Vulnerability of Andaman`s tribals brought alive through fiction

New Delhi: Attempting to reach out to a wider audience and highlight the vulnerabilities of tribal communities of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands who are in constant conflict with the world at large, an author and researcher has penned a fictional tale to offer lyrical insights into the pristine archipelago that has been a tourists` delight.

Pankaj Sekhsaria`s `The Last Wave` (Harper Collins, Rs; 350) introduces readers to the story through Harish, in his early 30s, whose broken marriage has left him grieving. He accompanies his journalist friend for a story to these breathtaking islands
and during the course of his stay, understands the complexities involved in the constant conflict between the tribals, the other residents and nature.

It is here he meets Seema, a local-born who is researching on the people who hadn`t come from other countries to settle in the islands but were born there.

Their paths cross at a time when the islanders are amused at the changing behavioural pattern of the Jarawa community - their hostility to the outside world comes to a sudden end and their demeanour changes.

Sekhsaria has been travelling to the islands for almost two decades to research on various aspects of their history, geography, the people and the ecology. Author of two non-fiction works on the islands and the Jarawa community, he chose to pen a fictional tale to go present their struggles and vulnerabilities intertwined with a love story.

"This is an extremely rich place in all these contexts and yet the islands are only
remembered for the Cellular Jail or for tourism and, more recently, for the many controversies surrounding the Jarawa community," Sekhsaria said.

"My effort this time is to tell a story that plays out in the islands as also tell a story about the islands. I don`t think I could have done it if
I had stuck to the non-fiction genre. Story telling allows a different space and
frame," he added.

Having been completely absorbed in the wilderness and mysteries of the islands and their inhabitants, the Hyderabad-based author has been writing features to generate awareness about the many issues that go unnoticed.

"I have tried in the novel to go beyond the journalism and research to see if we can reach a wider readership and to see whether we can gain newer insights and understandings," he said.

"This story gives a message of the vulnerability of tribal communities and the challenges that they face as does the environment," he added.


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