Telling tale

Print edition : January 20, 2017

A TELLING tale of the fishing community around Thoothukodi. The realistic portrayal of their lives makes this story highly credible. What is even more significant is that it is one of the few stories that deal with the devastations of environmental damage; in this case a thermal plant that destroyed the fish around the area, stripping away the livelihood of a people who possess no other work skills. The ash-ridden effluence not only snuffed out the lives of the fish in the sea but also the warmth in their hearts, wiping out entirely all the niceties that govern life. The shocking end will jolt any reader out of her complacency. In this nuanced story by Dhamayanthi, there are no antagonists, only victims completely brutalised by abject poverty brought about by environmental degradation. The crotchety old lady—never a saint—turns into a veritable harridan when she is denied the fresh catch that her tongue has savoured all its life. The man and wife, already reduced to straitened means, are forced to take an extreme step.

Dhamayanthi has used the colourful Thoothukodi dialect with utmost ease. Though this could not be replicated, the chattiness and informality had to be brought out, taking care not to overstep in any way. Local terms for the fish were quite a challenge. We had to negotiate the end of the story very gingerly since the horror had to be rendered in the discreet, matter-of-fact tone of the author.

Dilip Kumar and

Subashree Krishnaswamy

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Editor, Frontline

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