Falak, a young journalist from Delhi, is assigned to a remote village in southcentral India where a moneylender is found dead, hung from a lamppost in front of his house by an entire village united against injustice. Falak coldly hunts the story for a page-one byline. He does not allow a corrective conscience, an attitude that had in the past cost him his relationship with Vani, a journalist from rival newspaper. Within hours of reaching the village, his story is ready – a villainous moneylender killed by long-suffering villagers. But Falak has also unearthed a disconcerting fact: the moneylender was a kind-hearted, generous man whose death was being used to intimidate other moneylenders. Outstanding loans are written off to buy peace with villagers, but the politically well-connected and dangerous moneylenders plan a brutal retribution. Shambu, a farmer, seems to have masterminded the death with Bhanu, the moneylender’s son. Falak hates the villagers for committing the crime but also sympathizes with them. He hates the half-truth he reports, but covets the byline it gets him. Truth rescues him from this twilight of dilemma. It devastates him, transforms him. And ironically, also makes him lie.
About the Author
Kota Neelima has been a journalist for fifteen years, starting her tenure in the profession while studying at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. She writes on politics, rural economy and agriculture.
Her first novel Riverstones (2007) was about the extent and causes of rural despair leading to farmer suicides and a comment on the response of journalists and media houses to such issues. The author is also an impressionist-abstract painter and lives in Delhi with her husband.