Few years ago, Jose Saramago published a book called "Death at Intervals". Building up a world of chaos at the result of death's absence, in his own inimitable style. Satirical , witty and with great restraint ( its easy to go haywire with such a theme), he produced a brilliant work to me the last significant work by the Nobel Laureate. When I read the blurb of Ajith Janardanan's new book, the reference of Saramago's book came into mind. I am not comparing a novice to the Nobel Laureate, but bringing to your attention a class work around death, or its absence there of.
Ajith Janardananan's short Novel, which won the Manorama Online Novel Carnival award ( I guess it can be read online here), looks at the duality of world, where the mortals, won over the death thus eventually achieving what the entire human civilisation was working towards for generations to generations. They discovered the magic medicine, to prevent death and aging. However, for every step towards progress(?), there have to be an opposition. There were equally strong rejection to the medicine ( called Live Green 30) and defying the will of God by the other half of populace. The world debated and split in line with their believes. Those who supported 'immortality" chose to find their own world called "Bravo" and those who wish to remain faithful to the God's wishes retained their world 'Alpha'. A Great migration between the worlds ensured clear differentiation despite the initial chaos and loss of human lives.
For the people of Bravo, the initial excitement did not last long. The population grew in the absence of death. The had to mandate that people take necessary precaution ( giving up birth) before they have been accepted to the fold of 'immortals' by ceremoniously taking the 'Live Green 30'. There were rebellious voices which had to be curbed. The inventor himself ( One David Kinman) came out against his invention ( albeit discreetly). Many people grew disappointed with life and wanted to return to the normalcy. There are no new births of kids and many professions seems to be of no value in the new system ( gynecologist, teachers).
On the other side of the world, David Kinman's son ( who along with his mother refused to move to the new world) trying to find remedy to his father's mistake. He believed it is his moral obligation to correct his father's error. While the youngsters are now finding the 'immortality' an attractive options and certain quarters are rumored to have been developing the clandestine version of Live Green 30. There were also news of an imminent attack by the Bravo , struggling to provide for its growing population with resources.
It is in this world where few youngsters in Bravo, attempting to make some changes. They build temples, "old age homes" for people disillusioned with life, maternity clinic for those refuse to tow the line of authorities. They also wanted David Kinman to break his silence and talk to the world, by attempting to get an interview published. The book then looks at the various possibilities for both Alpha and Bravo voices of rebel and authorities , not very convincingly though.
While the short novella has nothing to claim in the literary side, it is a curious attempt to build upon a possibility in its fullest extend. To me, Ajith Janardanan had succeeded in that front. Despite few clieched, often expected lines of writing, it did bring out a freshness in the narration in Malayalam writing.
ലൈവ് ഗ്രീന് - 30 / Live Green 30 ( 2012)
D C Books