The Village on the Sea

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Anita Desai's wonderful novel tells the story of a family living in the small fishing village of Thul, 14 kilometres from Bombay, India. It is more precisely the story of two young people, Hari, a boy of 14, and Lila, a girl of 13, with a will to survive. Their task is not easy. Lila has to look after their mother who is very ill with fever and requires constant care. She is also in charge of all the household chores and has to look after their two younger sisters, Bela and Kamal. Hari on the other hand has to work in the fields, selling whatever he can at the market to feed the family. Indeed, their father has long ceased to be a fisherman, his sole occupation being to get drunk on toddy every night along with his chums in the village. Fortunately, next to their hut is a large country house called Mon Repos which is owned by the de Silvas from Bombay and whenever they come on holiday to Thul, Lila and Hari can earn some extra money by helping with the household or doing work in the garden. But there is a rumour in the village saying that soon the rice fields and the coconut groves will be replaced by a large fertiliser factory. The location of Thul was chosen by the Government for its closeness to the port of Rewas. So new highways and railway lines are to be build and the villagers are worried about their future. Are they skilled enough to get a job at the factory? What will become of their traditional way of life? Will the air and the sea be polluted by chemicals? When a delegation is sent to Bombay to express their worries to the Minister Sahib, Hari decides to join the party. Before leaving, he decides that Bombay may offer him a better life opportunity than his frightened sisters, his sad house, his ill mother and his drunken father. And it is indeed in Bombay where this delicate boy

|The Village by the Sea | |Author - Anita Desai | |Anita Desai’s Village by the Sea is set in a small village called Thul, which is 14 kilometres from Bombay. | |Lila, the eldest child among four siblings, is but thirteen years of age, yet she already has the outlook and maturity of an adult. Her| |brother Hari, twelve is the only person with whom she can share her troubles . Their mother is an invalid and needs constant care and | |nursing. Nobody knows what exactly is wrong with her but she grows weaker and weaker with every passing day. Their father, who has been| |out of work for months, is in a permanent drunken stupor, from which he arises occasionally to shout at his family. | |What with two younger sisters to take care of as well as their mother, life for Lila and Hari is not easy. Their father is most useful | |when he is away at the local toddy shop, getting drunk. There is a constant need for money as the family is almost always in debt. Then| |one day, Hari decides he’s had just about enough and leaves for Bombay '' the Bombay where dreams come true and ambitions grow into | |reality. | |Lila is left alone, to manage her sisters Bela and Kamal and her mother and somehow keep the family strings together. Help comes from | |an unexpected source, the rich DeSilva’s. | |Meanwhile, Hari is new in the great city of Bombay, and all alone. A kind restaurant proprietor, Jagu, takes pity on him and welcomes | |him to work in his restaurant. There, Hari builds a strong friendship with Mr. Panwallah, the lovable watch repairer whose shop is just| |beside Jagu’s....
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