The Last Wave by Pankaj Sekhsaria
Few fiction are written with real cause, few fiction are written to generate awareness, few fiction are written which blends in reality so well that it feels like reading a non fiction book. One such book is The Last Wave written by Pankaj Sekhsaria and I feel lucky to read such a thought provoking book.
My Awareness About The Island
The Last Wave is about the island Andaman & Nicobar, one of the seven union territories of India. My knowledge about the island is limited to the fact it is a divine for scuba divers and one which got seriously hit by the Tsunami in 2004.
But after reading the book The Last Wave and some googling I felt that I am largely ignorant about many burning issues of the island. That’s why I wrote in the beginning that few fiction are written to generate awareness.
Facts Through Fiction
Through the characters like Harish, an aimless drifter searching for a goal of life, Seema, a local born anthropologist, David, a senior biologist and Uncle Pame, a Karen boatman, author has brought out various issues that had affected the island.
Issues like dwindling number of crocodile from the marine ecology due to rising cases of poaching in spite of law enforced against hunting and killing crocodile.
The slow and gradual destruction of the rain forest of the island and that too being done by the Forest department. The manner in which the author bring out this issue and shows the evidence was marvelous to read.
According to one of the character in the book Prof SK Kutty, a biologist, pink orchids are beautiful flowers and they grow where there is abundance sunlight. Now these flowers are seen in many places in the forest which clearly shows that trees were cut for timber. Whereas the places where forest is thick these flowers cannot be found.
Andaman and Nicobar island is full of various communities who under various situation had made this island their home. Communities like the Onge, the Great Andamanese, Local Born, Karen, Jarawa are the few notable ones. But there seems to be a tussle between all these tribes and other civilized people. Tussle over the land.
Among all of them Jarawa Community or Adivasi as popularly known were most dangerous and fiercely protected their reserved forest and resources. Depleting forest forced them to visit the civilized area of the island for food. The so called civilized man can’t help but ogle and photograph Jarawa women which was severely condemned by the author through various characters.
The author has not spared policeman and politicians as well who plays an active role in encouraging poaching, hunting, cutting of forest and exploiting Jarawa community. Many tribes doesn’t exist thanks to the selfishness and hypocrisy of politicians and indifference of government.
All these burning issues and others were wrapped around a fictional tale of all the above mentioned characters. The fictional part of the book was just an outline and background to bring out the real story of Jarawa tribe. Facts and fictions was perfectly intertwined to tell an awesome tale of the island.
I also loved the part where author has vividly described the entire process of egg laying by sea turtles and hatching of mother crocodile’s eggs. It was mesmerizing to read. And equally heart rending was to read the rising and deadly waves of 26th December, 2004 which nearly destroyed the island and many countries in around sea.
The Last Wave, was indeed, an interesting read. It enlighten me about the history of Andaman and Nicobar island, about the problems of the island.
I completely agree with the author that Jarawas are not things for sightseeing and exploitation. They should be protected as they are the real champions of forest reservation of the island. They are harmless and could live in harmony with the so called civilized mainlanders. Jarawas like the rain forest are natural beauty of mother Earth let’s preserve them instead of wiping them out.
The author is a researcher and campaigner of environment and wildlife conservation with focus on Andaman and Nicobar island. He has published two non fiction work on the island. The Last Wave is more of a factual fiction book. It has been written in the simple language. Like a natural storyteller, Pankaj has magnificently told the story of the island. This marriage of fact and fiction was both interesting and knowledgeable to read. The book is written for masses and so highly recommended.
Definitely eager to visit this place both as tourist to explore the beauty of the island and as a person who has been enlighten about this place and its issues.
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