A Village by the Sea - Anita Desai

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Anita Desai?s novel, The Village by the Sea, is a vibrant narration of perseverance and hope in distress. It is a saga of changes and adaptation, a little of evil and more about the goodness of nature and human kindness. Based on true events, it is a story set in a small coastal village Thul near Bombay. The two main characters of the novel are a brother and sister duo, 13-year-old Lila and 12-year-old Hari. They have two young school-going sisters, Bela and Kamal, a chronically ill mother and a good-for-nothing drunkard father. Their father had sold his paddy fields, fishing boat and even cattle long back to pay his toddy debts. Eventually the burden of looking after the family falls on the small shoulders of Hari and Bela, which they take on themselves with a sense of duty. Lila does the household chores and takes care of her sisters and ailing mother and Hari earns a little money by doing odd jobs or by selling vegetables he grows in his garden. Close to their hut is a country house, Mon Repos, owned by a rich family of De Silvas from Bombay. Occasionally, De Silvas come to Mon Repos for holidaying and Hari and Lila work for them as part-time domestics to earn some extra money. Mr De Silva is a kind man and he gets impressed by the hard work of Hari. He gives Hari his city address as an invite to work for him in Bombay. On one evening Hari finds a recently raised hut near the village. The man living in the hut tells Hari that soon there will come up a fertilizer factory. He says the paddy fields and coconut groves of 14 villages from Rewas to Alibagh will be acquired by the government to build roads, railway tracks and housing colonies. The news spreads in the village like wildfire and the villagers become apprehensive about their future. There are mixed reactions among the villagers on the factory. Some are optimistic of getting jobs in the factory and some fear the consequential pollution, loss of livelihood and impact of industrialization on their ways...
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