Saturday, 7 April 2012

The Village by the Sea

Date of Reading: 19/10/2006
Author: Anita Desai
Publisher: Puffin Books
Year: 1982

          Untouched by the 20th century, the small fishing village near Bombay is still ruled by the age-old seasonal rhythms. Hari and Lila have lived in Thul all their lives, but their family is now desperately down on its luck. Their father drinks; mother is seriously ill and invalid; and there is no money to keep them fed and clothed. Lila is the eldest in the family and Hari is next. Bela and Kamal are their younger sisters.
           Hari is fed up with this family and so he runs away to Bombay where he gets a job in Sri Krishna Eating House owned by Jagu. He also learns the gift of watch mending from Mr. Panwallah.
          Meanwhile their mother's condition gets worse and help comes from the de Silvas who have come to stay in the nearby bungalow for vacation. She is taken to hospital and on hearing the news, their father turns a new leaf in his life. He spent the whole time in the hospital nursing her and even stops drinking. The de Silvas goes back after the vacation and their friend Sayyid Ali Sahib comes to stay instead to study birds. Lila and her sisters do all the housekeeping work.
          On Diwali Hari returns and finds the atmosphere in the home changed. Mother is well now and factories are being opened in Thul. So Hari decides to open a poultry farm to sell chicken to outside people. He also has plans for a watch repairing shop. Story ends there with dreams for future.

Rating: Very Good

         Book adheres completely to the Darwinian dictum "Survival of the fittest". If u r feeling a little down now and wants to read an Indian novel for comfort, go for this one. When one door closes, another window opens; everything is for the best. [I don't believe this, but that doesn't mean you should not].
--- It has won the Guardian Children's Fiction Award.

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