Monday, December 31, 2007

The Tale of a Dark Priest

I bought this novel about two years back but only now got the time to read it. It was short novel, 130 pages, so I was able to finish it quickly. It also helps me overcome the guilt that I keep hoarding the books, without actually reading them. Kala Padri a Hindi novel by Tejinder (the novelist just uses his first name) is set in the tribal areas of Chattisgarh and follows the growth of James Xaxa, a young man of Uraon tribe, who is studying to become a Roman Catholic priest. James is a 'talented' and intelligent young man who is expected to make it big, go to Rome, meet the Pope in person and spent three years studying theology. But he is also acutely sensitive to the socio-political upheavels that are happening all around him and which prompt him frequently towards poltical activism. There is also Soselene Minz, a young woman friend who gradually becomes more than a soundboard for his ideas and thoughts. The novel goes into the intricate details of the lives of tribal Christians and brings out rich and complex narrative of India's social, economic, political fermenting. The narrator of the novel is a young man called Aditya, a bank official who has recently been posted in Ambikapur. The working of the bank, especially the corruption disenchants him and he often spends time with his somewhat idealistic friend James Xaxa and Soselene Minz. And it's with them and through them that he's able to clear the cobwebs of prejudice and ignorance, and allows the novelist an incisive narrative.
(काला पादरी, तेजिंदर, नेशनल पेपरबैक्स, नई दिल्ली. 2005)