As yet another anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy comes and goes by and the clamour for justice continues, I must mention a book that was inspired by the incidents and the aftermath of this disastrous night that ruined several thousands of lives- Animal’s People. I might have talked about it earlier, months ago, when I actually read it; it is a book that stays in your head and haunts you for a long time once you’re done with it.
Set in the imaginary town of Khaufpur, it sees the world through Animal’s eyes- a young man maimed by the tragedy, but possessing a dauntless spirit. He utters the worst profanities possible and has lecherous thoughts, but is embroiled in a constant battle to find justice in a murky world that reels from the consequences of a tragedy long gone by, politics playing its part as usual. He goes ‘Namisponding, Jamisponding‘, lives with a French nun who has quite lost her sanity, speaks a mix of English, French and Hindi. He falls hopelessly in love with a girl who treats him unusually kindly, not like the ‘Animal’ that the rest of the world calls him. The arrival of an American doctor rouses suspicion in the village- could it possibly be a continuing conspiracy of the company that lay at the bottom of the tragedy all those years ago.
Touching and thought-provoking, this book shows reality in its full, stark form. It doesn’t gloss over the unmentionable, it uses strong language, it gives you goosebumps. But you see life through the eyes that tell you the true story.