Poetics Of Belonging: An Ecocritical Reading Of Kavery Nambisan’s The Scent Of Pepper

2016 words - 9 pages

In the 21st century marked by communicational advances and technological developments, issues related to environment have gained momentum. Man’s changing relationship to the natural world has become the focus of many literary texts produced in the contemporary era. The ambivalent attitude of man towards nature has been continuing since eons, as he is not willing to accommodate the role of the environment within the paradigms of the socio-cultural framework. The literary world has witnessed the production of numerous narratives which bring to the fore the existential and material crisis confronted by man within the space of the environment. The present paper titled Poetics of Belonging: An ...view middle of the document...

Kavery Nambisan is one of the significant voices of Indian English fiction whose The Scent of Pepper reveals her genuine concern for the pressing issues related to the age-old question of man’s relationship with the natural environment. In her brilliant evocation of the landscape of Coorg, Nambisan reminds us of Hardy or Narayan. Just as the Malgudian landscape permeates the spirit of Narayan’s novels, so also the appalling beauty and exquisite grandeur of Coorg leaves an indelible impression on the minds of the readers. It is interesting to note how the entire story of the novel gets unfolded against the robust Coorg, exploring its full potential, and with an emphasis on the material existenc of the natural beauty of Coorg which affects the life of its main character Nanji.
Cast against the story of the trails and tribulations in the life of Nanji, a Kodava woman, the novel displays a sense of strong commitment to nature. It is through the character of Nanji that Nambisan quite dexterously brings to the fore the interrelationship that exists between nature and man. The physical being and pristine beauty of the natural landscape of Coorg come alive in the imagination of the readers when Nanji takes the readers through its flora and fauna and climatic variations. As Nambisan observes:
...the climate of Kodugu- with its heavy rain, months of dry weather, and abundant shade- was ideal for pepper cultivation. Nanji, like many of her neighbours, had already experimented with a few vines, which she planted around the trees near the house. They produced just enough pepper to season her fried port. Now she planted them near every tree in a five –acre clearning of robusta. Within months, the vines with their shiny dark leaves climbed upward, festooning the trees like frilly apparel. (SP 34-35)
Nanji’s deep-seated emotional attachment with the land and its local environment need to be seen as co-existent with her concern for and environmental justice. It is true that Nanji, an ordinary woman, cannot bring about improvement in the environmental conditions on a large scale. Rather, she works hard as a manager of her immediate environment. Nanji who is put in charge of a large household looks upon nature as a source of culinary sustenance and moral support. She finds her alliance with nature as scared and comforting, and considers it as vital not only for her survival, but for the entire Kaleyanda clan.
Even from her childhood days, Nanji has been tutored in the fact that man exists in only in relation to other living beings. As Donald Hughes comments:
Human ecology, then is a rational study of how mankind interrelates with the home of human species, the earth; with its soil and mineral resources; with its water, both fresh and salt; with its air, climates and weather; with its many living things, animals and plantes, from the simplest to the most complex; and with the energy received ultimately from the sun. (3)
Having imbibed ecological...

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