The recent furore created in Egypt by the conscious common man, protesting against the tyrannical rule of Hosni Mobarak and later the euphoria of liberated Egyptians on being successful in throwing over the three decades old dictator grabbed the eyeballs all over the world and the newspapers and channels were flooded with the pictures of contented people celebrating the supposed advent of democracy in their beloved country.
And, since, I am a die hard novel lover and love to apply my fictional knowledge into real life, all these events reminded me of The Chronicler’s Daughter by Kishore Thukral that I read more than a year ago. I felt as if the real life was following fiction and I was more than surprised to see the first part of this novel being enacted in real life.
For all those who are curious to know, the Chronicler’s Daughter is a story about U Belly, a perfect country where every citizen is entrusted with a specific role (read, job) and is supposed to adhere to that role generation after generation, with no possibility of any change. There are four Elders in the country, who have been ruling the country for several generations and are more than contented to live in their four walled city and do not want their innocent U Bellians to be corrupted (liberated) by the outside world.
All remains well unless the City Chronicler’s daughter decides to voice her thoughts freely, against the oppressive shortsighted elders and is able to expose the feeling of dissatisfaction, simmering dormantly in the hearts of many U Bellians. And, sooner than expected, the regime of Elders is thrown off with the euphoric citizens taking the reins of their beloved country in their own hands, in the able guidance of the Chronicler’s daughter.
But, in this rapidly changing world, only change is constant and the U Bellians soon realize that dictatorship and democracy both have their own advantages as well as shortcomings. The newly elected democratic Government of U Belly, with the Chronicler’s Daughter being the head of the nascent free country, soon face some financial hardships and are forced to take help from a rich neighbor Moneymania and in the process of gaining money, the U Bellians are infected with some of the modern day diseases i.e. envy, poverty as well as discriminations and unjust classification of people.
And, as expected, very soon, people are bored of running the country and want to revert to their old laid back lifestyle. Will the U Bellians return to their archaic but contented life or will they adjust themselves with the bright yet hectic modern lifestyle, forms the mainframe of the novel and makes for an interesting read.
Thukral’s novel is imaginative, thought provoking and within the rigid framework of a fictional novel challenges the strictness of unjust tyranny and the free hand of lenient democracy equally well and I was quite impressed by this unusually witty book. I just hope that the Egyptians will carry their new found burden of democracy much more sensibly than the U Bellians and would love to track the further developments.