A powerful, beautifully imagined novel from Githa Hariharan asks when the tide will turn to make this dream real.
Hundreds of years ago, Chikka, son of a cattle skinner, finds a home in Anandagrama, among people who believe everyone is equal; people whose prayer is inseparable from song and work, the river and the land, friendship and love. Chikka becomes Chikkiah the washerman who sings by his beloved river. But the Anandagrama movement against caste is torn apart, and its men and women slaughtered or forced to flee.
In the present day, Professor Krishna makes a discovery. The saint-singer Kannadeva is none other than the son of Chikkiah. The poets and fighters of Anandagrama have been forgotten; Kannadeva has been whitewashed into a casteless ‘Hindu saint’. Professor Krishna reconstructs many lives of resistance from his findings in a palm-leaf manuscript. But will the bigots, armed with bullets, bombs and hit-lists, let scholars and poets do what they must?
Three Dalit students—Asha, Ravi and Satya—dream of a future that will let them and their families live with dignity, just like everyone else. From Chikkiah’s story to theirs, a few things may have changed, but too much has remained the same.
Three distinctive narratives intertwine past and present in compelling ways to raise an urgent voice against the cruelties of caste, and the destructive forces that crush dissent. But they also celebrate the joy of resistance, the redemptive beauty of words, and the courage to be found in friendship and love. I Have Become the Tide is deeply political, but it never loses sight of humour, tenderness—or the human spirit.
Githa Hariharan has written novels, short fiction and essays over the last three decades. Her highly acclaimed work includes The Thousand Faces of Night which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book in 1993, the short story collection The Art of Dying, the novels The Ghosts of Vasu Master, When Dreams Travel, In Times of Siege and Fugitive Histories, and the collection of essays Almost Home, Cities and Other Places. She has also written children’s stories; and edited a collection of translated short fiction, A Southern Harvest, and the essay collection From India to Palestine, Essays in Solidarity. For more on this Delhi-based author and her work, visit www.githahariharan.com.
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