M C Raj

The Story Line
A young Dalit researcher, Veeran from India strikes a friendship with a young Sami philosopher, Ramona in Alta through internet chatting. As their friendship grows they connect to their indigenous history. Veeran expresses his desire to do a research on Samis in Norway. She is highly excited. She manages to get financial support for his research from the Sami Parliament. They meet in Alta airport. She takes him first to Karasjok where the Sami parliament is located. They walk around and become close to each other. “Earth is our Mother, Reindeer is our Ancestor.” The captivating sound of Disney technology replayed in Sapmi, the Land of the Sami people. Veeran recollects the story that buffalo is the ancestor of the Dalit community. Veeran was watching the movie in the specially constructed theatre of the Sami people in Karasjok. It was an arduous journey to Samiland, a dream come true. He remembered his childhood days. What he heard then was ringing in his ears now after that powerful documentary on the Sami people. He gathers a lot of research material on the emergence and establishment of the Sami Parliament. As the research grows their intimacy also grows in leaps and bounds. Introduction of the villain of the novel takes place through a flash back to India. The villain is Kathir, a half educated political agent of the caste lord in his village. He is unable to stomach the fact that Veeran goes to a foreign country for studies and with Boraiah, the caste landlord plots to scuttle the issue of passport to Veeran. But Veeran’s friend and former professor find succor from a top Dalit bureaucrat in the office of the President of India and Veeran ultimately obtains his passport. Kathir vows revenge.

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They move around the picturesque Town of Alta. Ramona is from Alta. Narration of history and the struggle in Alta captivates Veeran. The panoramic beauty of Mother Alta encapsulates him in a world of deep admiration and emotion. In the banks of river Alta! Love blooms but not yet blossomed. She speaks to her parents and friends in high excitement. They caution her on possible cultural gaps. Cecil her mother is all understanding. She is the one who led the Alta struggle and narrates to Veeran all about the struggle. He has a dream of the World War II in Norway. Ramona informs him that it was a dream for him but in reality it was history that he dreamt. Laestadianism is explained to him by Cecil. He becomes one of the family in Alta. Cecil understands that he will soon be her son-in-law. She yoiks for Ramona and for Veeran. Veeran find a similarity with Yoik in the Sobana of the Dalit art form in India. Ramona is the embodiment of a philosopher in all her interactions with him. The Sami and the Dalit meet. The scene shifts to India. A Team of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation pitches its tent in Veeran’s home to take documentary on the achievements of Madderakka, the daughter of Ramona. She has been chosen for a very prestigious International award called the Yoikana Indigenous Award. Veeran has become very old by then. He retires to bed after witnessing a full day’s shooting. In his sleep he walks with Ramona and has a full flashback on how the story unfolded in India. Veeran and Ramona return to India together. Ramona reveals to him that she hid from him her plan to go to India to do a research because he was the first one to reveal that he wanted to go to Norway. Ramona is welcomed in traditional Dalit way and becomes the cynosure of the village. But she also has much cultural shock in store. Kathir calls for a meeting of the village panchayat to raise the issue of the legality of Veeran’s marriage with Ramona. Veeran’s Mother protests against the caste panchayat and leaves the meeting with Veeran challenging the entire village. But the Dalit community decides that there should be a formal ceremony of marriage. Veeran places Deepti’s marriage as the prominent one in order to downplay his own. Deepti is married to his close friend Ramesh. Deepti, his sister is a specially constructed flamboyant character throughout the novel. Ramona becomes very popular among the Dalit people and large gatherings attend some of her public meetings. Amma, Veeran’s mother suggest to both of them that they should visit the first ever Dalit Ashram in India and meet the two sages living there to have a fine grasp of issues that afflict the Dalit community. Though they go there out of curiosity they are completely overwhelmed by the cosmic experience in the Dalit Ashram, a never hear of place and it provides them the much needed impetus to take up many struggles. Ramona plunges herself into a land struggle in Karnataka. Kathir has powerful connections among the caste lords and is supported by them to put down Veeran. Ramona begins to take up leadership among the Dalit

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women and in the company of Deepti spearheads a cultural and political change in the community. But Kathir manages to arrange for hired goons from Mumbai to rape Ramona. They fail in their attempt as Ramona fights them physically. Ramesh rushes to Ramona’s rescue and is killed by one of the goons. They run away leaving Ramona. Deepti becomes completely reclusive against her nature after the death of her husband Ramesh. She begins to take up to books and reflection and presents a study in contrast. The character of steeling in oppressed psyche is brought out very powerfully through this phase in Deepti’s life. The local bureaucracy is very angry with Ramona for having transferred the police inspector who was hands in gloves with Boraiah and Kathir. The Collector deports her to Norway on the flimsy ground that she campaigned for Deepti in the local election. Ramona goes back to Norway promising to come back soon and resume her mission in India. She discusses the issue with the Sami Parliament and they are happy to offer jobs for both of them in the Parliament itself. Veeran returns to Norway with the hope of taking Ramona back to his people. News of her pregnancy completely changes the reclusive character of Deepti. There is a huge celebration in Veeran’s village led by Deepti and the Dalit women begin to sing Sobana for the child in the womb. Ramona gives birth to Madderakka, a beautiful daughter. As the child grows up Ramona joins the Labor Party of Norway and campaigns for the victory of the Party in the elections to the Samediggi (Sami Parliament). She becomes a very famous person in Norway and internationally. In one of the conferences in Argentina she dies of electrical shock in the hotel in which she is accommodated. Both father and daughter return to India. Madderakka who is fondly called Akka in India takes up the unfulfilled mission of her mother. She becomes the heroine of the second part of the story. She starts with the land struggle from where Ramona left in Karnataka. But drawing inspiration from Sami culture and Laestadius she combines cultural resurgence with political and economic revolution. She shifts the focus of the struggle to demand from the government of Tamilnadu a legal policy to distribute five acres of land to each landless Dalit family. She becomes very famous in India and starts an exchange programme with the Sami Parliament. The Government of Tamilandu establishes an Award in honor of Ramona and confers the first Award to Veeran. At the same time the Samediggi establishes an International Award known as the Yoikana Indigenous Award. They choose Madderakka as the first recipient of the Award. The strange combination of Sami and Dalit brings about the liberation of the Dalit people through this daughter of the Sami Ramona and the Dalit Veeran. The Government of Tamilnadu simultaneously enacts a policy to provide five acres of land to each Dalit family.

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Veeran escapes often into the woods to converse with his beloved Ramona. In one such meeting, while the Norwegian Telecasting Team is busy shooting interviews with Madderakka he merges with Ramona. The conversation between Ramona and Veeran on this day is very philosophic and cultural. He dies in the lap of Ramona as she sits and holds him as a cumulative embodiment of her thought and feeling waves that refuses to enter into entropy till Veeran dies. His death is celebrated by all Dalits in the village with the belief that both Ramona and Veeran have transcended their bodies to live among the people in form of waves. The novel brings a heady mixture of romance, history, culture, poetry and the rise of the oppressed people. It stresses on the immense possibility before the poor and the marginalized people to create a win-win situation. It is full of artistry while describing the beauty of Alta, the reindeer, the nature and the people in both countries. It excels in character creation. The readers will find themselves in one or other character of the Novel. It is a pure fiction. Though it has a lot of resemblance to what happens in actual life it is not drawn from anybody’s life. But it is filled with realism.

Some Excerpts
Mother Alta…. When she is tired because of her eternal flow of energy and life the heavens come down and clad her with their mist. She is most beautiful when she is draped in the sari of nature and when she is completely naked making only the sky as her cover. If her energy level is low and she tends to get into a depressing mood they sense her need and come descending on her in torrents and fill her with replenishing energy. In this ‘sangama’ of heaven and earth they burst out into a spontaneous song and dance sequence that can never be matched by any choreography of all the experts on earth put together. It is nature at her best. Her lover and lifetime partner was long in waiting for her so that he could recline on her and feel secure for life. The city of Alta was full of Sami people representing their history and culture. The natural flow of this great lover, Mother Alta had deprived them of all their resistance. They just fell flat for her in her absolute beauty and character and settled together and built a personality around her. She loved it all and made her home in the city of Alta. It was romance par excellence. The father city and the mother river intertwined with each other like

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no other lovers in history in any part of the world. The inseparable companionship produced immense life for their children. Mother Alta was not only in her flowing best she was often also in her glowing best mesmerizing her onlooker with stunning beauty that surpassed all ages. The round faced moon was in full admiration of this dazzling flow of young energy through her every nerve. Heeding to her persistent request the thick dark clouds reluctantly split themselves up for the moon to heave a peep at this ever smiling bridal beauty. To her dismay the moon found the young Mother Alta fully covered with glowing lights from her lover and life time partner, the city of Alta who spread his heat and light around on her. She knew instantly that the moon was taking a stealthy glance at her ever increasing charm in the company of her lover and when the cool glance of the moon fell on her Alta smiled and laughed baring all her teeth in the twilight of the moon. Her sparkling white teeth put to shame the unkempt and clumsy face of the moon. Unable to bear the embarrassment the moon pleaded with the clouds to cover her blemished face from the enchanting looks and smiles of Mother Alta. The ever obliging clouds stretched out their hands together and covered the face of the moon leaving the City of Alta and the river of Alta to have all their unlimited romance throughout night, night after night.

Alta, the symbol of Sami liberation…… Both of them sat in the bank of River Alta under the rows of trees that laced her robe on both sides. Veeran was feeling very cold. Ramona knew it well. She lent her warm hand to him and rubbed his hand and feet to warm him up. He moved close to her. Taking Veeran into her warm carpet skin Ramona began to unfold the story of her Mother Alta. “Mother Alta is not a soft person as you imagine, Veeran. She is a strong woman. She is a fighter. She symbolizes the struggles and resurgence of the Sami People in Norway.” Ramona took off like a fighter jet plane in a war zone. As Ramona was speaking the wind from the banks of the river blew her loose skirt and her white thighs were fully visible. Ramona did not mind. Veeran could not remove his eyes for a minute. But he pretended not to have seen anything less he be misunderstood. He removed his eyes from the beautiful thighs and sharpened his ears. He knew well that anything could happen in a war zone. “River Alta is at the centre of the Sami struggle for our land, our language, our self-esteem, our culture and our property. But before we go deep into it you must

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know that there was already a movement brewing up in the Sami society after the War” “It is amazing that a people so small in number gathered all the courage in the world to rebuild your self. We call it resilience of the indigenous people in our Dalit context. Such resilience is unmatched. No one can defeat us. No one can destroy us. When everybody thinks we have reached the nadir of our life we rise from the ashes and stand up to the world” Ramona understood that the emotional being of Veeran should be given a free hand. She tightened her handgrip on him.

The flashback begins…. Veeran’s life had attained a transcendent vacuum with the departure of Ramona. He often saw his beloved Ramona walking by his side but when he turned to talk to her she disappeared without even leaving a shadow. He was convinced that nothing could replace the space that she occupied in his life. Her vacuum presence was very imposing when he lay down to sleep. For many years together he could not imagine sleeping all alone. He always needed the comfort of her presence at his side. She was the answer to many of his unfulfilled dreams. She had become silent for many years now. He was silent with her. It was with a deep longing for her that often Veeran closed his eyes. It became very assertive on occasions like the one that presented itself that day. It was Akka all the way. But Veeran was longing for his beloved Ramona. Communication between them started intensifying after her departure. It became a transcendental communication. They saw each other in different light now. She brought a new world to him and she began to see him in a way she had never known him before. Even as he closed his eyes he saw himself walking into the midst of mist. It was chill out there. As if by a quick reflex Veeran pulled up his bedsheet and covered himself. He was taking measured steps and could feel the grass under his feet yelling at him to walk slowly. Veeran was hyper sensitive not to hurt the creatures who had made their homes amidst the dancing grass. His eyes were fixed on the brightness at a distance. He saw the wind gathering a shape. It was heaps and heaps of waves. Was a storm gathering in front of him? He wondered. It was indeed a gentle storm. An unknown sensation gripped his whole being. He knew in his body the advent of something very close to him. He pinched himself a bit and made sure that he was alive. As he looked up there she was, the cumulative essence of his deep longing, his beloved Ramona.

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“You have changed a lot my kanna! How are you?” Veeran did not have to stretch his hand out. She was already holding it and was pulling him towards her in her inimitable style. “Come close to me Veeran. I have been missing you a lot these days. I have changed a lot. I am not any more having a body as you have. Then I have to be different.” Ramona was her unusual self. “But I am holding you in my hands. You do have a body. I am seeing you. And the dress you are wearing is very nice and bright” Veeran was a bundle of inexplicable emotions. “When you come into my world you will be able to see my body. My body is a bundle of waves and I enter the cells in your body whenever I want. I am longing for the day you will lose all the cells in your body and become waves like me. Then we shall merge with each other through entropy. We shall become one, inseparably one. I am longing for that time to come. I cannot live without you my dear.” “Sorry kanna! You have not changed a bit on this score. You are still the greatest philosopher that I have known.” Veeran tightened his grip over her and walked her to a side to make her sit. As if to contradict him Ramona went flat on the lap of Veeran as she used to do often even in her first life with him. This time round Veeran felt the difference much. As she was lying down on his lap there was no weight. She had become as light as one of the very sophisticated laptop computers that has only the weight of a paper. Veeran was reading her pulse. It was quite fast. He put his left hand under her head as he always did. His right hand was busy caressing her all over. She liked it immensely and was silent for a long time. She did not want to let go of this. “Great Kanna! You have not changed a bit even on this score. Hat off to you! You are a perfect combination of reason and emotion, emotive intelligence.” She knew he would say this. “When shall we be together again always?” Veeran spread his words and hands over her in equal measure. He was giving a silky touch to her hair. It was beautifully black against the background of white mist. “Veeran, my darling! I am always with you and you are always with me. I have fully entered each and every cell in your body and have filled you with my life. I keep myself alive by living in you. I am also in Madderakka. She draws enormous strength from me as I live in all her cells in the body.” “This is what you used to tell me when you were with us.”

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“I had learned it from our Shamans when I was alive in my body. This is what they taught. After our death we become waves. Even before we die we fill the cosmos with our thought waves and feeling waves. But after our death we lose our body and assume an existence as waves. Human beings and animals can communicate with us when we are in the form of waves. Shamans have developed the special skills to communicate with the waves of our ancestors.” “Forget your philosophy for a while Ramona. Let me enjoy the full pleasure of holding this light weight lady, my darling, in my arms.” Both of them enjoyed the touch of each other for a long time in silence. ….and ends too… ‘Yes, I am proud of our daughter Madderakka and am very fulfilled about the support Deepti provides her. Deepti herself has grown amazingly into a big leader of sorts. I am very proud of her. Now I am confident that they will carry the chariot of liberation forward.’ Veeran was still holding Ramona. He enjoyed her lying down on his lap and listening to him. ‘Yes, a very fulfilling life for you. I am proud to be part of this eternal saga.’ She added her mite. ‘But Ramona, I feel quite lost without my Ramona always at my side. I long for you every moment of my life. When I see the future of our people bright and shining I feel a vacuum, a sort of darkness in me. This vacuum is because you are not there always. You have been the downstream of my life filling every nook and corner of my being at all times. I have been constantly quenching my thirst with the munificence that you showered on me. It was your love that guided me always. When I was lost in the ever rising waves of the ocean you were my rudder. When I was lost directionless in the dark ocean you stood at the shore as the beacon guiding me. Please take me into you my Ramona. Let me be like you so that I can also have free access into your waves and let me merge with you inseparably.’ Saying this Veeran changed positions. He made Ramona sit straight and put his head on her lap. She embraced him, lifted his head high and kissed him on his lips. They remained so for a long time. Slowly Ramona released her hold on him and two drops of dew fell from her eyes into his mouth. Veeran tasted them in utter happiness. In sheer happiness he forgot to open his eyes and merged with his most beloved Ramona in eternity.

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‘What do you want to do when you are blissfully happy?’ Veeran used to ask her when they were in the initial stages of their love making. ‘I want to die when I am absolutely happy. What is the best way to die, Veeran? You should die when you are happy.’ The philosopher Ramona used to shock him. Veeran died when he was in the happiest moment of his life in the lap of Ramona. ‘Do not cry, please. We should be very happy for the way my father has died. I am sure he came here to meet my mother and both of them have decided to live together. Now it is our duty to give them a farewell that is very fitting for them. Let us celebrate my father’s death. Please bring all the Dalit drums, arrange a good meal and have firecrackers. My father was the most special man in the world and he should have the most special funeral.’ Madderakka took control of the whole situation in the village. Kathir had come for the funeral and was watching everything from a little afar. The funeral procession and the dancing on the streets while taking him to bury was telecast alive in Tamilnadu and in Norway. Even as the crew of the Norwegian Telecasting Corporation was winding up to go back the Director of the shooting team came near Madderakka and whispered in her ears. ‘When will you marry? Have you found someone?’ ‘Someone will come. I never lose hope.’ Madderakka kissed her and bade goodbye to the team. Deepti was at her side holding her in one hand and waving the other. Veeran and Ramona were standing on both sides and were smiling at each other.

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