The celebrated novel CHOMANA DUDI written by Dr. Kota Shivarama Karanth is 1931 is very heart touching and raises some serious in our society. Untouchable (Holeya), Conversion (Matantara), Landowner's cruel handling of workers (bonded labour), and his strong belief and faith in Hindu Gods. Though at one point he decides to convert and till his own land, he just could not move forward God's place (Pajurli Bhoota).
In "Chomana Dudi" Karanth writes the ambitions of Choma who has one burning wish in his life - to till a piece of land. Choma is an untouchable. Even among the untouchables he is from the group Mari, the lowest among the four groups of untouch-ables. His hut is on the outside of the small village, almost where the forest begins, away from every other house.
Choma is an untouchable bonded-labourer in a village who is working along with his family for a landlord, due to a paltry loan of twenty rupees borrowed from him years ago. Due to his social status, he is not allowed to till his own land, something that he desires most. Though he managed to rear a pair of bullocks that he found straying in the forest, he cannot use them to till the land. He comes in contact of Christian missionaries who try to convert him giving him the lure of the land, but Choma does not want to let go of his faith. He releases the fury that fate has beset on him, by beating his drum.
He has three sons and a daughter; two of his elder sons work in a distant coffee estate trying to pay off the debt. One of the sons dies of cholera and the other one converts to Christianity by marrying a Christian girl. His daughter, Belli works in the plantation and falls for the charm of Manvela, the estate-owner's writer. She is raped by the estate owner, who then writes off Choma's debt. She returns to Choma's home without telling him of the reality. His youngest son drowns in a river, with nobody coming to save him because of him being an untouchable. He then finds his daughter in an compromising position with Manvela. With anger, he beats her and kicks her out of the house. To defy his fate, he starts tilling a piece of land and then chases off his bullock into the forest. In the climax, Choma shuts himself in his house and starts playing the drum till he dies.
Though I read this novel years ago, still reading now made it very refreshing.
Sunday, January 20, 2013