The Sound Of Waves; Slippery Crevices Of Love, Morality And Nationalism

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Bengaluru: The Sound Of Waves originally written in Tamil language as Alai Osai by Kalki Krishnamurthy is now translated by Gowri Ramnarayan. To escape the despair of his all-consuming, failed relationship with Dharini, Raghavan agrees to meet Lalita for an arranged match. Finding Lalita’s cousin, the vivacious and captivating Sita, a far more amenable fit, he marries her instead. With a charming wife and a powerful government job in pre-Partition Delhi adding to his smugness and conceit, Raghavan turns a blind eye to the evils of the British Raj. Along comes Sita’s cousin Surya, a dauntless revolutionary burning to right the wrong. His commitment to the socialist credo leads him to Dharini, a young and spirited party member, the woman Raghavan continues to long for. Cracks appear in the brittle foundations of their lives as the characters move from rural Thanjavur, Madras, Bombay, Karachi, New Delhi, Agra and Calcutta to Lahore.

With poignant detail and lyrical prose, Kalki’s tour de force lays bare the emotions of ordinary people grappling with extraordinary changes, their circumstances rived with misfortunes, disasters and the carnage of Partition. The Sound of Waves is an impassioned tribute to everyday citizens and their woes, and an acute commentary on the aspirations of an emerging nation.

This book by Gowri Ramnarayan is the English translation of the bestselling Tamil novel Alai Osai by freedom fighter and novelist Kalki Krishnamurthy (1899 –1954).

Kalki R Krishnamurthy(1899-1954) was an iconic writer and a pioneer of modem Tamil literature and journalism. His induction into journalism was facilitated by his involvement with the freedom struggle. Beginning his career in the scholarly journal Navasakti and the anti-liquor manifesto Vimochanam, he served as the editor for Ananda Vikatan, before launching Kalki, the eponymous nationalist weeklyA prolific writer, along with novels and short stories, he churned out political essays, reformist propaganda, travelogues, music and dance critiques, film reviews, biographies, scathing satire, humorous essays, songs, poems, a film script or two, and translation, including Mahatma Gandhi’s The Story of My Experiments with Truth.

Revelling in controversial debates on political, aesthetic and ideological issues, Kalki used his writing talent to crusade for several causes. He had chosen the name of Lord Vishnu’s final avatar for the destruction of the world as his pseudonym because he was resolved to work towards a new and better world. Today, Kalki is best known for his historical fiction, a genre in which he remains unsurpassed. He is the author of Sivagamiyin SapathamParthiban Kanavu and the mammoth Ponniyin SelvanAlai Osai, which the author deemed his best work, documents the turbulent decades of the freedom struggle between 1934–1949, seen through the eyes of ordinary people who were inevitably affected by the socio-political changes.

Gowri Ramnarayan is the founder, in-house playwright and artistic director of JustUs Repertory. Formerly deputy editor at The Hindu and vocal accompanist to renowned Carnatic musician MS Subbulakshmi, Ramnarayan has authored original plays, children’s books, and a biography of MS Subbulakshmi. She has translated the plays of Marathi playwright Vijay Tendulkar, the short stories and the biography of Tamil writer ‘Kalki’ Krishnamurthy, served on the Fipresci Jury in international film festivals, and is now chairperson of the Rukmini Devi Arundale Trust, a senior associate editor for Sruti Magazine, adjunct faculty, Asian College of Journalism, and a freelance journalist.

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