Litanies of Dutch Battery by N.S. Madhavan, translated from Malayalam by Rajesh Rajamohan, is set on the island of Dutch (Lantham) Battery, north of Fort Kochi. The narrator is Jessica who starts talking to us right from her mother’s womb. She grows up into a strong-willed Catholic girl, watching events unravel before her, observing the foibles of the inhabitants of the island.
The book oversees the rise of communism in Kerala and various other events that occurred in the state. Midway it becomes a personal story when Jessica is fondled by her maths tutor. Most of the people advise her to forget it, but shockingly, her family decides to overlook the matter and orders her not to talk about it. The priest doesn’t intervene because her abuser is not a Catholic, hence deemed as already condemned, while the local communist leader vouches for the character of the tutor and accuses her of imagining the sexual abuse. Jessica is filled with revulsion and toys with the idea of suicide.
Penguin Books India