Through Gauri’s flashbacks to the weeks leading up to Udayan’s death, Subhash learns that Udayan had been plotting large-scale explosions. When setting off a bomb, Udayan’s hyperthyroidism-related tremors caused him to mishandle the device and blow off the fingers of his right—and dominant—hand. Udayan’s mangled hand, then, becomes a symbol of the Naxalite movement’s ultimate failure. The CPI(ML)’s involvement in the Naxalite movement, and the violent acts of terrorism they carried out on its behalf, ultimately made them an easily-spotted target, and their mission of bringing Maoist values and politics to West Bengal ultimately imploded. Udayan reflects on his own political futility shortly before his death, thinking in his final moments that his dedication to the revolution has helped no one and instead sown only discord. Udayan having blown off his own hand in pursuit of getting his party’s message out is symbolic of the party itself becoming so myopic, violent, and narrow-minded that it caused its own downfall. Later in the novel, Gauri injures her own right wrist at a crucial moment, when distracted by unpleasant memories of her involvement with the Naxalites after a visit from a former student, researching the movement, stirs them up. Gauri’s injury, which echoes Udayan’s, comes up again to remind her of Udayan’s futile involvement with the Naxalites—and her own futile attempt to forget the days of the rebellion.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Udayan’s Hand appears in The Lowland. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 3, Chapter 2
...later, Gauri can hear something emerging from the flooded lowland—it is Udayan. He lifts his hands above his head, following the officers’ orders, and is marched over to his family. The... (full context)
Part 7, Chapter 1
Part 8, Chapter 2