The small, dusty town of Ranipur, not distinguished for anything in particular, is shaken out of its somnolent pace by a series of apparently mysterious events.
Trees bear fruit out of season; the teenage bride of the aged temple priest disappears without trace from a moving train. Twin sisters wake with heavy facial growth after gorging on a chicken dinner. A guard dog appears to have robbed the local branch of a bank. Bewildered and fearful, seeking the cause of the strange events, some take refuge in their faith, the anger of the gods, or simply the coming end of the world. The authorities, unable to offer a plausible explanation, merely declare the happenings intolerable.
The Mysteries of Ranipur, the second part of Krish Day’s Indian trilogy, offers both entertainment and an underlying reflection on the persistence of superstition and the irrational, in an age dominated by science and technology.
Flowing at a brisk pace through events farcical and whimsical, the narrative is peopled with a colourful cast: a police inspector, mild and modest, harassed by a querulous wife; a hormonal specialist who delights in altering the physical contours of his patients; a bank manager in flight from an overly lascivious wife; a decrepit merchant’s tragic attempt to impregnate his young wife by proxy; a holy man, expert in emptying pockets and seducing the innocent, overplaying his hand, to come to a sad end. Moving across a panorama comic, absurd and melancholy, unravelling the simpler mysteries of the natural world, the narrative gradually illuminates the greatest mystery of all: the human heart!
The Mysteries of Ranipur is a beguiling and intriguing work, combining the contrasts and comedy of modern India, that will appeal to readers of cultural fiction. It will also be enjoyed by fans of Krish's previous novels.