Kali Ma is a fictional account of the journey by an English gentleman and his wife from Calcutta (modern Kolkata) to the ruined fortress at Raj Mahal, in 1850-52. They are investigating a possible resurrection of the thuggee movement, but instead get embroiled in the Santhal Hool/Hul rebellion, which was much closer to a Communist insurrection than banditry.
Thematically, the novel focuses on the interplay between two modern ideologies – nationalism and feminism – with the essentially medieval attitudes of the male protagonist.
The working title, and the garish image above, both refer to misconceptions on the part of the “Britishers” as to the reasons for the insurrection. There were reports of human sacrifice associated with the worship of Kali as late as the 1820s, and the thugees horrified the British colonialists with their brutality. The cover image tries to capture that horror and (ironically) its roots in ignorance. That being said, I am actively searching for a replacement image – I fear that the one above will appear too cartoonish to the Western eye. A more appropriate picture would somehow merge traditional religious imagery of Bengal with something more modern (in the 19th century sense of the word) … I’m really not certain what. Suggestions are most welcome.
This story, like July 1918, is one that I sincerely hope I can finish before I die. I estimate that I need approximately 90 uninterrupted days to do so. It will be time well spent. The story is about a very important and much neglected period of Indian history that I feel I have an compelling take on: I’m certain it’ll be a good and very informative read. If you are a historically minded Indian billionaire perhaps you’d like to finance me?? I need little more than food and – ideally – transport up the Ganges to Raj Mahal 🙂