Shoes of the Dead by Kota Neelima – a hardbound book, published by Rupa Publications, has a neatly woven storyline. It has a strong bunch of negative and positive characters scripted in an interesting and powerful manner. I received this book for review from BlogAdda under their Boook Reviews Program. Kota Neelima is a Political Editor for The Sunday Guardian. She is also undergoing her Research Fellowship for South Asia Studies at John Hopkins University, Washington DC. She already has a twin hit of her previously published novels under her belt – Riverstones, and Death of a Moneylender.
This is a sensitively written book presenting both ends of a typical Indian scenario – where on one hand poor farmers keep following suicide spree due to various reasons as most of them depend heavily on monsoon rains, political and local moneylenders support and living with low temperament always worried about the next meal for their family; political leaders keep taking advantage of these situations with just motive of keeping their vote bank intact with whatsoever measures they have to take to achieve it. One bad monsoon creates a big debt for a farmer and forces him to get pushed under heavy weight of loans drifting him to more poor and uncertain conditions. Local politicians and moneylenders unite and create a kind of mafia to loot poor farmers and mint money by grabbing their land, money, jewelry and home. Very few who understand this ballgame get screwed badly if they try to resist.
The whole game starts with the suicide of Sudhakar Bhadra who belongs to Gopur village, kills himself out of huge debt and no possibility of any healthy conditions returning back so as to live a normal life. He leaves his wife and two kids behind him. Gangiri (the main lead of this story), when comes to know about it, leaves his teaching job in city and returns back to take care of Sudhakar’s family and a single motive of fighting with the poor conditions being faced by other farmers in his village. Sudhakar’s wife plea of considering Sudhakar’s suicide as debt driven and hence sanctioning relaxation in the payable loans by him gets rejected by the local committee stating it otherwise.
Shoes of the Dead is a fight of poor against rich, good against bad, common man against politics and administration. Overall it is an interesting read passing through various twists.