A Romantic Journey Through Cultures
M C Raj
Notion Press, 2015
ISBN 978-93-84878-78-8 (paperback)
The Harrington Review
A truly cathartic novel, M.C. Raj’s Madderakka hit the book market approximately 8 months ago. The prolific Indian-born author, philosopher, spiritual leader and international speaker stayed true to his chosen path of promoting universal human rights and representing indigenous peoples, while infusing hope, optimism and mystic power into his latest novel.
Madderakka is a love story that transcends personal fate. Beginning in an internet chat room, a symbolic romance blooms between a young Sami philosopher and a Dalit/Adijan anthropologist. Among local and international intrigue, they manage to build a life together that culminates in a mission that their beautiful daughter, Madderakka, fulfils.
The very first pages take the reader into Raj’s exceptionally uncompromising world: a beautiful exchange between two culturally sensitive characters representing indigenous peoples, filled with humility and understanding towards each other’s culture.
The following scenes and chapters reveal many examples of M.C. Raj’s trademark style. Unbridled sexuality (Ramona “busy with her nipples”, page 4), succinct portrayal of “the mysteries of caste dynamics of India” (page 41) with special attention to the “untouchables” (page 43), the use of dreams and flashbacks to propel the plot forward (Veeran’s dream of Sami history), and the ever-present celebration of women as symbols of empowerment, energy, leadership, and future, not only in the author’s native land, but all over the world. “It is our women who are the modern architects of the Sami community”, Ramona, one of the main characters, declares (page 52), undoubtedly representing the author’s point of view.
Chapter 6 begins with an awe-inspiring description of the Alta river of Samiland. From his previous books, M.C Raj’s imagery depicting nature still haunts me. In this novel, the graceful, sensitive description of the river Alta is a brilliant illustration of the author’s poetic soul (page 58).
Another trademark of M.C. Raj is the method of using an insider character to inform an outsider character – along with the reader- about the author’s topic and message. Both main characters, Ramona and Veeran, are insiders regarding their own cultural history, but as they compare and share their heritage, they also prove to be invaluable sources of information for the reader.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve striven to learn something new every day of my life. M.C. Raj makes it easy for me to keep up with my goal. Every page of his book is a new resource, loaded with information. Ancient history and traditions come alive in the modern mind-set and daily routine of authentic, 21st century characters, guiding and transforming the lives of attentive readers.
By drawing parallels between the Sami and Adijan peoples’ story, Raj explains the general fate of indigenous peoples that became oppressed by newer settlers all over the world. Yet, his description is not bitter, but rather objective, and many times full of hope. Hope and intelligent, cautious optimism saturate his words when depicting the similarities of the struggles of these nations and the ways they found to restore and preserve their culture, including the lessons they can learn from one another, and the grief they can exchange and share in order to lessen the burden of injustice.
At chapter eight, the more or less linear story line turns into a complex, multi-layered structure with several flashbacks and leaps into the future: another trademark Raj. First we meet Madderakka, the title character, in her adult life, then we learn about Ramona’s death, and finally, in chapter 9, we pick up the story where it was left off in chapter 7: Ramona and Veeran’s return to India.
I like the arch of the novel: starting from personal and local, it opens up to universal and communal. The celebratory last chapter gives me goose-bumps. Very touching speeches (page 178). I wonder about the boundaries of fiction and reality…
Whatever he does, speaks or writes about, M.C. Raj makes you think. He tests the limits of your imagination and pushes your cultural and emotional buttons. In other words, he challenges you to acknowledge that you are both a humble part of, and, at the same time, creator of the universe.
He is my personal hero.