Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Ekkos Clan - Book Review


The Ekkos Clan is undoubtedly one of the most promising debuts on the Indian literary scene. There are good books, bad books, average books and there are books which make you dance in ecstasy. The first part of the ekkos clan definitely made me jump from my seat and dance in joy. I was very happy to read something which was so effective. It was a poignant tale of partition. Yes, India-Pakistan partition. But not the one which we have seen umpteen times in novels and movies. It was the tale of India-Bangladesh partition. Bangladesh was known as East Pakistan then. The tale of suffering strikes an immediate chord with the reader. It translates the pain of partition. Though the gory details that follow make you realize that this was the trick used by the writer to shake you, well up your emotions, you can not deny that the writer has succeeded in having an impact of his story on you.


Kubha loses her husband to the communal riots which erupt at the time of partition. However, with the help of a kind hearted Muslim she manages to arrange to send her three children to India. The novel then takes a quantum leap to make Krotu its protagonist. Krotu is grandson of Kubha. He is the son of one of her sons who succeeded to make it to Kolkota. He has never seen Kubha. However, Kubha has always been with him through her stories. The stories of Kubha are documented by his sister Kirti. Kirti and Bhirgu, Kubha's other (elder) son, have died in two separate but similar car accidents.

Krotu is studying at Stanford. A linguistic palaeontologist by name Afsar first becomes his friend and then more than a friend. She finds that Kubha's stories are too familiar with the hymns in Rigveda. She believes that the stories are older than the hymns in Rigveda. The stories lead them on a trail to find the true homeland of the Aryans. Afsar is sure Kubha carried a secret in her insides. Perhaps it was the secret that took life of all her family members. Destiny had saved Kubha from being killed, perhaps for a reason.

Kubha's stories are a legacy which she has carried. One wanderlust by name PK or Pradip Kumar had tried to document the stories from her ancestors. He lost his life but left behind some diaries. Did he lose his life because he had unearthed the secret?

Krotu too narrowly escapes the attempt on his life. An organization wants to wipe off Kubha's future generations as well. The religious Hindu fanatics are afraid that revelations from Kubha' stories would eventually destroy all their tall claims of India being the homeland of the Aryans. Ekkos clan is the story of how Krotu meets his own people in his own land inspite of all the odds.

The first chapter hooks you to the story and you keep on turning the pages up to the last page inspite of knowing that Kubha is Nanima and where is her homeland. There is lot of technical language used regarding music, astronomy and of course linguistic. Hence, the novel requires attentive reading. Otherwise it will be difficult to comprehend. The drawings in the book could have been done away with. The concept of pur and the Arkaim excavation could have been used more effectively. Lines like “I threw an appreciative glance at her. Her reception unit amplified the signals and repeated to the world through the huge amplitudes of a smile” and “A mixture of tumultuous emotions and effervescent memories compressed into the cylinder of a V6 engine by a powerful piston of time got ignited suddenly by a spark plug and the rapidly expanding gas wanted to come out of the lone exhaust valve with full force,” may exhibit jugglery of words but they do mar the comprehension. 

There is ample usage of Bengali terms. Their meanings are given in the notes at the end of each chapter. It would have been easier to read the book if they formed footnotes on each page. I even located a spelling mistake on page 230 in the following line. “Day after tomorrow, when the suri rises in the morning from a particular notch in the mountain, we, the old people will announce the beginning of the noa sal, the New Year.” I guess the writer meant sun. 

Shingraye is a remote village lapped in the mountains inaccessible by motor vehicle. It has no electricity and hence no internet or TV. Then too the village head man, who has not stepped outside of his village, refers to trains. This sounds a bit out of place. Kubha's stories form epilogue of the book. It would have been better if they were incorporated in the main narrative itself.

Still the ekkos clan is an interesting read. The debutant has passed his first test with flying colours. 

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