In Khasi, “Teilang” is both proper noun and verb - “build together” - a great concept. The character of Teilang gives life to that concept. The novel is a tribute to the good men and women of Khasi society in particular, and all good men and women in general. It celebrates the quiet revolution of industry and values at a time when opportunism and anarchy dominate news headlines everywhere. More
Teilang Pde belongs to the matrilineal Khasi tribe of North East India. His life and times are set against the backdrop of a late 20th Century town of Shillong - a by and large peaceful place that has to gradually confront with the ideas of violence and exploitation.
Teilang is born in the early 1960s to a couple who teach at a local University. His parents believe in raising their children right - how to be normal, productive human beings who choose to work rather than exploit, to love rather than hate. Eventually, in spite of growing pains and peer pressure in an open society of the Khasis and the cosmopolitan milieu of their hometown, plus the new challenges of a society now suffering from threats of another kind, he and his sister turn out okay as adults.
His younger sister Iada, a hopeless romantic, chooses to be a high school teacher and does end up marrying her Prince Charming, Michael, a young successful local businessman who takes his family business to new heights after getting his B.E. in the electronic sciences and an M.B.A. from two of India’s premier schools of professional learning.
Teilang chooses the Arts stream, earns an M.A. in Sociology and goes on to become a college lecturer. Three years down the line, twenty-eight, single and carrying the tag of an “ice” in his circle of friends, he experiences job dissatisfaction and badly wishes for a break. He quits his teaching and heads for Bombay where he studies social work and meets Jan who becomes the love of his life. He marries her two years later after he lands a new job in the Meghalaya Civil Service.
The exact opposite of Teilang are David Phngar and the likes of him who are ruthlessly milking their society of its capital, social, mental and emotional resources with their endless greed and megalomania, who turn their society’s collective misfortune into opportunistic amassment of personal wealth and power.
As Shillong wrestles with new lows in its social problems, Teilang and his significant others, in spite of trying to rise above these problems, find their well-ordered private lives disrupted when Michael, Teilang’s brother-in-law, becomes a target of extortion and faces death threats. Teilang finds himself tested even at the work place as an urgent, confidential ‘assignment’ involves ‘overseeing’ an investigation on a possible local extortion racket. The investigation produces stunning revelations. Two days after he submits the report written by the investigator handpicked by his superiors, Teilang finds himself transferred to another department in another town.
As people who have the fear of God and respect for humanity, Teilang and other like-minded members of his town seek solace in their mutual encouragement and firm commitment to their values. And being on the right side, in their case, grants them triumph in the end as they leave their tormentors at the mercy of the law of both God and man even as they continue to try to be the kind of people they desire their children and children’s children to be.