Endurer by Kapil Raj: Review
Author: Kapil Raj
Publisher: Write India
Price: Rs 175
Rape has become an inflammable issue in these already turbulent times. The sexual aspect of rape is viewed particularly as a humiliating assertion of dominance. Undoubtedly, ambiguity about rape is common in literature, which stimulates the readers' own thinking about such a theme. In Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy is ambiguous about Tess' first sexual encounter with Alec D'Urberville. Hardy places the blame squarely on Alec. Much to the chagrin of prudish Victorian audience, he proclaims Tess "a pure woman" after her violation.
Nonetheless, 'Endurer', by Kapil Raj, realistically employs a fictitious female character to reveal the bestiality and barbarism of monstrous men who have long forgotten the real meaning of humanity and are perpetually on the prowl. Similarly, this gut-wrenching tale concerns a young girl Palak who yearns for love. She believes that love can fetch her soothing comfort. In her pursuit of love, she comes across many men. As the narrative unfolds, Palak remains constantly occupied in finding new love, falling for new crushes, patch ups, break ups and unplanned trips. The other day, she is excited over the prospects of making merry in a rave party. A lack, she’s brutally ravaged instead. Thereafter, Palak sheds her individuality and emerges as a representative of all those women who had to suffer the unbearable trauma of the heinous crime of rape. The emotional upheaval raging in her wounded psyche intensifies her agitation and agony all the more and she begins to consider herself an object of social disgrace and disdain. Undeniably, when it comes to the dastardly acts of rape, our so-called modern society is still medieval in attitude. Much to our satisfaction, the writer rips off this mask in this blood-curdling novel of ideas.
Distraught, frightened, forlorn and alienated by her crush and stabbed in the back by a few well-wishers, the victim seeks refuge in a small town, oscillating between sanity and insanity. Thankfully, the whole of humanity is not dead yet. If there is a vast majority of callous and sadistic people, a few compassionate souls also exist. So, this hapless girl is supported by the mother of one of her friends who has his own demons to battle with. The story takes a new turn when Palak eventually musters up the courage and decides to take up the cudgels against the injustice meted out to her.
A new Palak is born out of her own ashes like the mythical Phoenix. Coming out of the welter of self pity, she now resolves to trace out the perpetrators so that they are brought to book. Having regained her lost confidence she asserts in the end: "If your life does not mean anything to you, give it to the ones who need it. Yes, I was raped. But instead of dying, I live it."
The language used by the writer to delineate the ghastly spectacle is very apt with a liberal dose of slangs which facilitate the plot. Ultimately, this book is one that makes you ask the question as to why do so many people get away with blaming the survivor? Isn’t it patriarchal? That the novel makes one think and question underscores its relevance.