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San Cassimally

Scottish-Mauritian novelist and playwright.

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(Kilmahog, Scotland, 2000)

Osmosis and diffusion...

Book 1

Chapter 1: The Ancestors

(Allapur, Bihar, Late 18th century)

Allapur, the most charming little gaon in the Gaya district of Bihar!

Chapter 2: Inhambane

(Inhambane, Mozambique, 1790s)

The Chopi people had always had a unique relationship with elephants whom they called their forest cousins.

Chapter 3: Year of the Sheep

(Scottish Highlands, 1792)

The granny-to-be was overjoyed at the news of the new addition, but in keeping with her no-nonsense nature, her first reaction was, 'What? Another mouth to f...

Chapter 4

(Stroud, Gloucestershire, 1828)

Annie began earning a few pennies doing odd jobs for the people at the Fair and begging when there was no work. She was not averse to a little thieving when ...

Chapter 5

(Tolpuddle, Dorset, England, 1834)

'Gentlemen,' he said finally, 'it is with regret that I say this: the law now gives us the power to withhold our labour-'

Chapter 6

(Sundarbans, Eastern India, 1820s)

Raju's memories of his pre-Sundarban days, was a mixture of half-remembered facts and stories told by elders which had become more real every time he heard t...

Chapter 7: Insurrection in the Highlands

(Scottish Highlands, 1792)

The seed for the insurrection had scarcely been put into the all too fertile soil of discontent, had not even been watered by illicit brew, than it had sprou...

Chapter 8: Pictou

(Canada, 1773)

Hughie dear boy, the letter began, I am writing to you from Pictou in Canada, where I have been these last few years. I am writing to tell you that I never m...

Chapter 9: The Enemy Approaches

(Inhambane, Mozambique, 1790s)

Midala had slept not a wink all night. Shortly after the first crow of the cock, the tom toms had begun to rumble. This time things were happening nearer hom...

Chapter 10

(Sundarbans, Eastern India, 1830)

As a child, Shanti had instinctively sensed Raju's apprehension whenever he came to their house. Her Pitaji treated the boy with contempt, as if he had just ...

Chapter 11: Inverness and Cromarty

(Scottish Highlands, 1795)

‘We are at the dawn of a new age,’ he said with an almost religious fervour, ‘soon the country will be unrecognisable, it will be the age o...

Chapter 12

(Sundarbans, Eastern India, 1835)

Unexpectedly, as they were watching the river that morning, they saw a speck on the water in the distance, and she guessed that it was Jayant's boat, and ind...

Chapter 13: Strathnaver

(Scottish Highlands, 1800s)

One night Mam surprised everybody by telling the young pair that if they stopped fighting, she would tell them a story. Hugh did not remember her telling him...

Chapter 14

(Calcutta, India, 1835)

The road from Sonarkhali across the Pargannas to Calcutta could be fraught with all sorts of danger, none of the oft-repeated assurances to the contrary that...

Chapter 15: Dunrobin

(Dunrobin, Scotland, Early 1812)

On that cold spring afternoon, with scattered snow still covering the tops of ridges, Sir John Sinclair sat in his coach dressed in his finest, feeling that ...

Chapter 16: The Startled Fawn

(Calcutta, India, 1840s)

Shanti dozed off for she did not know how long, but when she woke up, Jayant had not come back. That Jayant is so unreliable, she thought.

Chapter 17: Clearance

(Highlands, 1800s)

What happened next was something nobody was prepared for. A few weeks later, Hugh had gone to Golspie and was drowning his sorrow in a tankard of ale at the ...

Book 2

Book 2 Chapter 1: Leaving Inhambane

(Inhambane, Mozambique, 1790)

Midala had stopped feeling the pain in his ankle and wrist, but what was worse was that his whole body felt numb.

Book 2 Chapter 2: Mahébourg

(Mahébourg, Mauritius, 1791)

Think of Missié Victor as your father, your mother and your god. He has all the power, and if he decides to beat you to death, it is his right, there is no o...

Book 2 Chapter 3: Grand River North West

(Les Sept Cascades, Mauritius, 1793)

The cane stalks in the ground were firm and dark scarlet, and the leaves fluttering in the breeze, like a green sea, the colour of jade. Flourishing above th...

Book 2 Chapter 4: Leaving Calcutta

(Calcutta, India, Late 1840s)

When Jayant reappeared alone some time later, Shanti was filled with an inexplicable hatred for the young man, as if it was all his fault that he had not fou...

Book 2 Chapter 5: The Bagne

(Mauritius, 1790s)

He had already made up his mind that the strangler fig was going to be his gate to freedom. It was surprising how often that blessed tree had featured in his...

Book 2 Chapter 6: Penang

(Penang, Malaysia, 1800s)

When he reached the paternal home, his father was livid with rage, but the moment he saw the ravaged face of his son, his anger immediately metamorphosed int...

Book 2 Chapter 7: Mont Calme

(Mauritius, 1840s)

'I am not greedy,' lied Victor. It was not that he was not greedy, but he understood that if he had the governor as an ally, the sky was the limit.

Book 2 Chapter 8: Transportation

(Hunter's Hill, Australia, 1834)

Hunter's Hill is the peninsula between rivers Lane Cove and Parramatta, which the Aborigines call it Mooroocooboola, which means the meeting of the waters.

Book 2 Chapter 9: Atlantic

(Crossing to Canada, 1800s)

They had all told her that for an unmarried mother, life in the Highlands was going to be unbearable, and urged her to go to Canada with John Robert.

Book 2 Chapter 10: Oxenham On (1)

(Oxenham, Rice Lake, Canada, 1800s)

John, having miraculously escaped death when he missed the Moonglow at Cromarty, was advised that there was the possibility of catching another ship at Green...

Book 2 Chapter 11: Oxenham On (2)

(Oxenham, Rice Lake, Canada, 1800s)

Mark was a fund of knowledge of Ojibwa traditions and religions. He knew where the secret scrolls were buried. He was an expert carver and made sculptures in...

Book 2 Chapter 12: Young Raju's Ebony Fish

(Mauritius, Late 1840s)

Raju, without seemingly listening to the endless stories of hardship and hard work, knew how proud the two grandparents were of their prosperity. Jayant neve...

Book 3

Book 3 Chapter 1: Illiwarra

(Hunter's Hill, Australia, 1837)

They fell in love with the place, as instantaneously as Annie had fallen for James. Here in this place they were going to live happily ever after, like in th...

Book 3 Chapter 2: Reverse Transportation

(Hunter's Hill, Australia, 1839)

After the men from Tolpuddle had been been found guilty, workers all over the country began to fearlessly proclaim that it was a blatant miscarriage of justi...

Book 3 Chapter 4: Demerara

(Demerara, Guyana, 1862)

When Donald Robertson finished university in Cambridge with a first class honours in Natural Sciences, he booked his passage on the Scotia, the latest Cunard...

Book 3 Chapter 5: Georgetown

(Demerara, Guyana, 1860s)

When her father had become mad, the company had told him that the best they could do for him was to keep him on as night watchman on the plantations, pending...

Book 3 Chapter 6: Essequibo

(Demerara, Guyana, 1862)

Donald was told that because of the rapids, the Essequibo was unnavigable, but he decided that if a circle had to be squared, he was the man to do it.

Book 3 Chapter 7: Devi

(Demerara, Guyana, 1866)

Devi was almost as sad as Mr Don about the breakup of the two people she loved above everybody else in this world, apart from poor Baba. She would have liked...

Book 3 Chapter 9: Babi Yar

(Ukraine, 1941)

He watched this scene in a state of shock. Someone pushed a bottle of vodka towards his mouth and he took a swill. At first he thought he was going to be sic...

Book 4

Book 4 Chapter 1: From Allapur to Ullapool

(Ullapool, Scotland, Now)

Katrina had cycled extensively in the Highlands and had spent three days in Ullapool. The town was charming enough but not riveting, and she had thought of g...

Book 4 Chapter 2: Hesperus

(Calcutta, India, 1840s)

With a forced smile Raju had followed the older man. The moment the family was out of earshot, Sukhdeo was all smiles and back-slaps, and he said that the be...