2020 Aug 21
An ominous editor’s note sets the unsettling tone for the rest of Nihal De Silva’s ‘The Giniralla Conspiracy’, the third and final completed work of the author’s short-lived career. Said to be written out of 5 journals written by a young girl during the years of her university life and early career, the reader is left to decide if the terrifying conspiracy is the product of an over-imaginative mind or if the entire plan was derailed by the courage of a simple village girl and the sacrifice of the man who loved her.
“Being called a bitch helps to steady my mind”
The very first sentence of the book instantly alerts the reader of the headstrong mind and the iron will of Sujatha Mallika, whose story starts on her first day at Sri Jayawardenapura University. However, her outward portrayal is dowdy and meek, terrified of her unfamiliar Colombo surroundings.
Nihal De Silva’s knack of filling his characters with rage and resistance shines through in all three of his works but seems to stand out even stronger in this book. Without it, the book is merely a melancholic tale of the youth lashing out against class and caste oppression through violence.
Her dedication to the sadistic leader of the movement, who promises to eradicate the corrupt system quickly vanishes as she stumbles upon the mysterious ‘Giniralla Project’, a destructive plan to seize the power of the country.
The Giniralla Conspiracy paints a vivid picture of feeling, through the interaction of the main character with the others. Swept away in Sujatha’s emotions which are constantly contrasted by the acts of the other characters in the book, the reader is carried through the tide of her developing personality, from the scared village girl to a sharp, witty journalist. Haunted by her own demons from her childhood, Sujatha struggles to form romantic connections but remains fiercely loyal to her close group of friends. At times, the book is too invested in Sujatha and loses focus of its plot which unravels a bit too rapidly towards the end of the book.
Overall, the entire book is filled with simmering rage which erupts tumultuously in the book’s conclusion. The reader is made aware of the extent of ragging in local universities and how deeply some of the students are invested in politics in these institutions. Nihal De Silva perfectly captures the undercurrent of rage that is still present in today’s generation. A great read which offers insight and understanding into the minds of the youth.