national Arts Festival Banner

Friday, June 12, 2009


Fiona M Khan produces a work of fiction based on the facts of indentured labour in Natal.

Reeds of Wrath by Fiona M Khan is a recently-released novel that transcends two countries and continents; from the palaces of Moghul India and rule of the British Empire to the rolling cane fields of colonial Natal. This is a work of faction. that is, a work of fiction based on the facts of indentured labour in Natal.

Cassiopeia Pennywhistle takes a sojourn to India to be with her father who is on a mission by the British Government. She falls pregnant by an Indian officer. Her visit to a woman for an abortion, who is also a seamstress to the colonials triggers events that has rippling repercussions on two families that are now bound by friendship, love, war and brotherhood.

An Indian family caught in the contrast of culture and loyalty against the atrocities and rape of their country traverses the plains of India to unwittingly sell themselves to slavery coined delicately as ‘indentured labour’ in the British colony of Natal. Tempted by visions of wealth, they arrive in the last outpost to find that they are sold in a square to a sugar baron. Their term of indenture transcends between five and ten years until they can buy back their freedom.

Jahan is the illegitimate child of Cassiopeia Pennywhistle, adopted by an Indian family and also sold to slavery. Her fate now lies in the hands of her employer. She is captivated and her heart entrapped by Patrick Buchanan who is not only her employer but becomes her lover. Caught between love, her freedom and her loyalty to her fellow slaves, she chooses her calling of liberating fellow mates in their education and edification. She is faced with the dire consequences but triumphs against all odds because of her beliefs and principles. Reeds of Wrath, is wrapped within the mysteries and battlefields of India and rustles to the riddles of the cane fields in Natal.