Suket, Raghu and Shams are no strangers to taking on powerful political interests. They’ve never shied away from speaking their minds, with words or on the streets. And they’re used to a few bones being broken every now and then for it.
But something feels wrong about the state of affairs in the country now which they can’t quite put their finger on. Increasingly hard living conditions are met with breathless praise for the great work of development by the government. A politics of identity—of the religious kind—has all but replaced the pursuit of social justice. And people’s sentiments are so easily hurt that just about any divergent word you speak may bring a mob to your door. What has gone so wrong? Why does it feel like the entire nation has been lobotomized?
There are days when the three friends think they are close to an answer. But they have no idea how little they know.
In any case, their time’s up. They’re going to find out tonight. The National Commission for Hurt Sentiments is bringing them in for a ‘friendly interaction’.
Purushottam Agrawal’s NaCoHuS is a cautionary tale of a splintering nation at the mercy of a dangerously powerful government. In alternatingly comical and evocative prose, it brings us face to face with a dystopia that lies not in some distant future but may already be upon us.