Born to Be Killed
M.C. Raj‟s latest novel
born to be killed,
is an interestingexperiment in novel writing. Moving away from the traditional emphasis on plot
and characterization, Raj‟s novel assembles together a host of historical
figures thinly veiled by fictionalized names and places them in a series of events and situation over a long period of human history spread over differentparts of the world. This gives the writer an enormous freedom to re-viewsignificant moments in human history related to faith, governance, politics,culture and social formation and offer his own readings. His perspectivesreflect a valorization of Marxist, feminist discourse, a commitment towardsempowerment of D
alits and “indigenous peoples”.
Such an ambitious and all encompassing vision requires an astute design thatis grounded in an ideological matrix that is lucid, rationalist and well-nuancedin history and scholarly research. M.C. Raj, however, chooses a differentformat
a series of conversations amongst the characters. A post-moderntake-off on the epistolary form and the quest narratives,
uses long conversations amongst characters whose names faintly echo or recall Christ, Karl Marx, M.K. Gandhi, Ambedkar, Martin Luther to name a few!While the conversational mode of narrative is engaging initially, the narrator /
ejaculatory, exclamatory, judgmental comments are not onlyexasperating, they are often superfluous and break the trajectory of theconversation/ confrontation mode of the novel. Further, confrontation betweenopposing perspectives is never allowed to crystallize in an ideological clarity.Instead, it enters the space of dreams and hallucinations and thereby scuttleshistory and chronology of events.While the survival of Jesus contemporaries on the one hand and post war
celebration of Karl (Marx) on the other are wrapped in fantasia, thespiteful duping of Ambedkar over the Poona Pact by Gandhi is peppered bygossip over his strained relations with Kasturba. While the novel highlightscaste biases and discrimination against Dalits and depicts Gandhi(Karmachand in the novel) most uncharitably, it strangely fails to represent Ambedkar (Bhim Raj in this novel) as a dignified intellectual, an activist withan earnest spiritual pursuit. He is shown to be rather hysterical and morose, aheavy drinker who regrets his decision to embrace Buddhism!