Ten-year-old Chamdi has rarely ventured outside his orphanage and entertains a fantasy of what Bombay is like beyond its garden walls a paradise he calls Kahunsha, the city of no sadness.” He runs away to search for his long-lost father and finds himself thrust into chaos. Moving, poignant, and wonderfully rich in the sights and sounds of Bombay, this novel is the story of Chamdi's struggle for survival on the city's dangerous streets.
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Anosh Irani was born and brought up in Bombay, India, and moved to Vancouver in 1998 to become a full-time writer. He is the author of the acclaimed novel The Cripple and His Talismans. His first full-length play, The Matka King, premiered at the Arts Club Theatre Company, Vancouver, in 2003. His new play, Bombay Black, was produced in Toronto in 2006 by Cahoots Theatre Projects and received the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play.
In an interview with The Georgia Straight, Irani discusses how the Zoroastrian Parsi community he lived in was affected by the riots: "One night the Muslims and Hindus had a street fight right outside the gates of our compound. At one point, they wanted to burn down a gas station which was right next to one of the buildings in which people of our colony lived, so people had to beg and say, 'Look, if you burn this gas station down, the buildings will explode. And we are not part of this violence.' Luckily, people listened, which is quite rare."
He goes on to express his admiration for the street children of Bombay and their ability to look beyond their dire circumstances: "A lot of these street children, when you talk to them, they have dreams. They are very poor. They live in grinding conditions, but they have very large dreams: some of them want to become doctors and find cures for diseases; they want to become movie stars, singers, dancers; some want to join the police force and bring about real change. They are all about change, because they know that if they don’t hope, if they don’t create some kind of dream, survival for them is going to be very difficult."
Without warning, the man rams the iron rod into the face that peers through the window. There is a sickening crunch and the face disappears. That must be Hanif the taxiwala, thinks Chamdi. The man stands guard outside the window, the iron rod by his side. He looks ready to repeat his actions should the need arise.
In the darkness of the lane, Chamdi can hear a woman scream from inside the blue shack. He imagines Hanif lying on the ground, his teeth smashed with an iron rod, blood streaming from his nose and mouth, while his wife bangs on the bolted door with her fists.
Chamdi is unable to move. None of the neighbours come to the family’s rescue. Most of the men and women return to their shacks, and the few that remain outside look just as terrified as Chamdi.
Chamdi stares at Anand Bhai, who stands rooted to the ground. Dressed in black, Anand Bhai looks like he is part of the night itself. Chamdi cannot understand how Anand Bhai can smile at a time like this.
Chamdi runs his hands across his ribs.
He tries to push his ribs in, but it is of no use. They continue to stick out of his white vest. Perhaps it is because he is only ten years old. When he grows older, he will have more flesh on his body and his ribs will be less visible. With this thought, he walks down the steps of the orphanage.
He stands barefoot in the courtyard. He never wears slippers because he likes to feel hot earth against his feet. It is early January, and the rains are still far away. Even though a new year has begun, the earth looks old, the cracks in its skin deeper than ever. The sun hits Chamdi’s black hair and forces him to squint.
He stretches his arms out and walks towards a wall, where his world ends and someone else’s begins. As he nears the wall, he hears the city – faraway car horns, the hum of scooters and motorcycles. He knows Bombay is much louder than this, but the courtyard is not near the main road. Beyond the wall is a small marketplace where women sell fish and vegetables from cane baskets and men squat on their haunches and clean people’s ears for a few rupees.
Pigeons sit in a row on the wall and chatter. Spikes of glass are placed along the edge of the wall to prevent people from entering the courtyard. Chamdi asks himself why anyone would bother sneaking into the courtyard. There is nothing to steal at the orphanage.
A loud cycle ring causes a few pigeons to flutter away, but they quickly regain their places on the wall. The shards of glass do not seem to bother the pigeons. They know where to place their feet.
Chamdi touches the wall and feels the black stone. He smiles when he thinks of the moss that will appear. Rain can make life out of walls. But it is still a few months before he can inhale deeply and take in his favourite scent. The smell of the first rains, that of a thankful earth satisfied by water, is what he dreams about all year long. If only the inside of the orphanage could smell like that, it would be the most loved orphanage in the entire city.
This tenth year has been hard for Chamdi. He is beginning to understand many things now. When he was a child, he had many questions, but now they might be answered, and he is afraid he will not like the answers at all.
He turns away from the wall and wanders towards a well made of grey cement.
As he stares at his reflection in the water, he wonders if he looks like his mother or like his father.
He believes he has his mother’s eyes, large and black. Was it his mother or father who dropped him off here? He wonders if they are alive.
He puts one foot on the parapet of the well.
Bougainvilleas surround him. They are his favourite flowers. So pink and red, full of love, he thinks. If these flowers were human they would be the most beautiful people on earth.
He puts his other foot on the parapet of the well and stands tall.
He looks through the open window of the orphanage. Most of the children are huddled together on one bed. He can hear them sing “Railgaadi.” The girls make the chook-chook sound of a train, while the boys shout out the names of cities and towns at great speed – Mandwa, Khandwa, Raipur, Jaipur, Talegaon, Malegaon, Vellur, Sholapur, Kolhapur. There are so many places in India, Chamdi says to himself, and I have not visited a single one.
He likes how tall he feels with the added height of the parapet. Perhaps one day he will grow to this size. But it will still take years. And even if he does grow tall, so what? He will still have nowhere to go. There will come a day when he must leave the orphanage. But there will be no one to say goodbye to. No one will miss him if he goes.
He stares at the water in the well.
It is extremely still. He wonders if he should jump in. He will swallow as much water as his body will allow. If his parents ever come back for him, they will find him sleeping at the bottom of the well.
The moment he has this thought, he gets off the parapet.
He walks quickly towards the orphanage and climbs up the three steps that lead to the foyer, where the children’s rubber slippers are placed in a neat row on the ground and a black umbrella hangs from a hook on a yellowed, patchy wall.
His small feet leave dirt marks on the stone floor. He enters the sleeping room and receives an angry look from Jyoti, who sits on her haunches and washes the floor. She always scolds him for not wearing slippers.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Descrizione libro Milk Weed, 2007. Hard Cover. Condizione libro: New. Condizione sovraccoperta: New. First Edition. This is a new hardcover first edition copy in a new DJ. (Small half wrap DJ, brown). Codice libro della libreria 032562
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Descrizione libro 2007. HRD. Condizione libro: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Codice libro della libreria V7-9781571310620
Descrizione libro Milkweed Editions. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. 1571310622 *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Codice libro della libreria NATARAJB1FI692827
Descrizione libro Milkweed Editions, Canada, 2007. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. It is 1993 and Bombay is on the verge of being torn apart by racial violence. Ten-year-old Chamdi has rarely ventured outside his orphanage, and entertains an idyllic fantasy of what the city is like beyond its garden walls - a paradise he calls Kahunsha, the city of no sadness. But when he runs away to search for his long-lost father, he finds himself thrust into the chaos of the streets, alone, possessing only the blood-stained cloth he was left in as a baby. Fuelled only by a desire to find his father and the dream that Bombay will someday become Kahunsha, Chamdi struggles for survival on its brutal streets. But when he is caught up in the beginnings of the savage violence that will soon engulf the city, his dreams confront reality. Codice libro della libreria BTE9781571310620
Descrizione libro Milkweed Editions, 2007. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria M1571310622
Descrizione libro Milkweed Editions, 2007. Hardcover. Condizione libro: Brand New. first edition edition. 320 pages. 8.50x6.00x1.00 inches. In Stock. Codice libro della libreria 1571310622
Descrizione libro Milkweed Editions, 2007. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Never used!. Codice libro della libreria P111571310622
Descrizione libro 2007. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Hardcover. It is 1993 and Bombay is on the verge of being torn apart by racial violence. Ten-year-old Chamdi has rarely ventured outside his orphanage, and entertains an idyllic fantasy .Shipping may be from our Sydney, NSW warehouse or from our UK or US warehouse, depending on stock availability. 311 pages. 0.517. Codice libro della libreria 9781571310620