Sunaina Luthra ON May 05, 2023, IN BOOK REVIEW, ONE SMALL VOICE BY SANTANU BHATTACHARYA-FICTION
- What happens when a woman is reattributed for raising her voice for her rights and forced to silently endure all the atrocities endowed on her?
- How does a queer person entrapped in its identity feel?
- What does a child go through when he is molested, an undeserving wrath, to finally swaddle in a cocoon?
- A catastrophic violence becomes a sore eye for a child when he witnesses the cataclysm. Has humanity lost its benevolence to allow such depredations to occur?
Turning a blind eye to these acts of inhumanity,surreptitiously wrapped and kept deep in the mind closet leaves one haunted, wounded and scarred for life.Silence becomes virtueand search for that one voice toliberate them out of their agony begins.
10 year old Shubhankar is one out of many ensnared in his ordeal.
1992—India- simmering under fire, drenched in blood and reeling under hatred! The century old Babri Masjid is obliterated into smithereens.The skirmish between Hindus and minorities plunges the country into uncertainty, distress and despair.
A witness to burning of a young Muslim tailorduring communal riots alters Shubhankar’s course of life forever. This savagerytorments him. The silent complicity of his family leaves himincapacitated for life.As years pass,still carrying the baggage of past wounds, Shubhankar sets foot in the city that never sleeps- Mumbai. But destiny has different plans. He fallsprey to hate crime of late 2000s—a period where Maharashtra is burning with anti-north sentiment. In an attempt to save a young boy from a mob,Shubhankaris brutally inflicted by another terrible act of violence leaving him mentally and physically. traumatized
While gathering fragment pieces of his life,Shubhankar realizes the grim reality of state of Indianpolitics and its hypocrisy. He is forced to believe that citizens are like a speck of dust not above the vote bank and thatpoliticians are the new ‘messiahs’ ,guardians of our ‘Constitution’. They are the future dictators of our social and religious interactions.He finds solace in his art and means to break the shackles of his past to lead a way forward.
‘One Small Voice’ by Santanu Bhattacharya highlights the dichotomy of democracy and how in spite of 76 years of Independence, the country finds communalism lurking in the most unexpected corner. The book brings forth a significant question “What is better?—to be bound by community or alienated by freedom.” The book offers profound insights on the rise of religious nationalism and some of the important political events from 1990 to 2000 –technology and globalization gaining momentum. The writing is lucid and invokes a deep sense of empathy.
We are a nation with religion deeply entrenched, a way of life for many and a catalyst for power by unscrupulous politicians. Pseudo-secularists have madereligion a mockery. We have been hearing that there is one Universal god that binds every community and resides everywhere; it is this belief that hails importance. Religious intoleranceis a testament of an enervating democracy unable to triumph over religious fascism.
It’s high time we challenge and rise above this idée- fixee.