A cobra’s bite doesn’t hurt
Evocative and beautifully written, this powerful novel presents life in contemporary India with vivid realism. Not since A cobra’s bite doesn’t hurt has a novelist succeeded in conveying – with truth, dignity and power – the inhumanity of abandoned children on the streets of cities and towns across the country.
Those who have read the pilot copies have described it variously as audacious – bold – humorous – politically controversial.
The key protagonist here is Kalu, a chamar boy abandoned at birth by his young mother. Kalu narrates his life story in the form of an open letter to Prime Minister Mr Modi of India. Kidnapped by a gang of child traffickers from an orphanage near Haridwar, he is trained to pick pockets and forced into a gang of thieves in Bangalore. When Babu, their ruthless gang master murders his best friend Ramesh, Kalu – fearing for his own life – runs away to Kolkata. While still being pursued by Babu he meets and falls in love with Tanya, an educated career girl from an upper middle-class family.
Just finished reading the book. Crime novel it isn't, contrary to my expectation This is more a very engrossing, fast paced literary novel. It has taken me by surprise, a pleasant one I have to say. Loved the central character Kalu with whom the reader can't help but empathize intensely, even when he is out picking pockets or committing other misdemeanours. The story clearly has a serious social message. It should be read by everyone.
Humorous, intensely serious, heart rendering, romantic, it is everything. I even shed a tear once or twice, much to the amusement of my husband. 'Its only a novel,' he said. 'work of fiction.' The style of writing - descriptive, atmospheric - transports one to the very heart of Bangalore and Kolkata and keeps you there for ever and on. Though it briefly looses some of the vigor in the second half, it makes up by the endearing characters, such as Baldev, the landlord and Raju, the school teacher. Thank you. I recommend this book highly.
A Different Side to India. This book is very atmospheric and obviously written by an author who has lived and breathed India. Like Slumdog Millionaire it exposes the ugly underbelly of Indian society where people are fighting for survival. Kalu starts his life in an orphanage but then progresses to working as a pickpocket, all the while yearning for the family he never had.
Great read. Just finished reading the book. Crime novel it isn't, contrary to my expectation This is more a very engrossing, fast paced literary novel. It has taken me by surprise, a pleasant one I have to say. Loved the central character Kalu with whom the reader can't help but empathize intensely, even when he is out picking pockets or committing other misdemeanours. The story clearly has a serious social message. It should be read by everyone.
Thoroughly recommended. I really enjoyed this tale of an orphan who is abducted from a children’s home in India by a gang and forced to pick pockets in Bangalore. After his friend is murdered, he escapes and moves a thousand miles to Kolkata, where he works the streets on his own. Sadly, the bad men from his past soon catch up with him. However, despite his odious crimes, teenager Kalu shows he has a compassionate side when he finds a love letter in a wallet and seeks to reunite two lost sweethearts. This is an engaging story of sadness, inhumanity, tragedy, humour, and hope and inspiration. This author, who is new to me, brings alive the colourful street life of modern-day India, with all its sights and sounds, in this fast-moving tale. Thoroughly recommended.