Friday, July 27, 2007

The Song of Kahunsha


I had never heard of "The Song of Kahunsha" nor had i heard of "Anosh Irani".. Then how did i pick this book up? Well, i was jobless one day and homesick enough to search for books with the tag "india" in my local library.. of the numerous results i got, the name "kahunsha" stood out. It wasn't a name i had ever heard and out of sheer joblessness, i googled it to see what it meant.. to my surprise.. all hits returned only this book and its reviews.. kahunsha was a name Anosh Irani had come up with.. his name for paradise..a land with no sorrow.. That made me pick the book up. The story starts in an orphanage in bombay. narrated in third person, it mainly revolves around an inmate in the orphanage - chamdi. A small thin weak looking boy with big dreams about the world outside the orphanage compound walls.. Just when you start pitying the conditions in the orphanage and thinking how lucky you are that your life is protected, he leaves his shelter and goes out into the city. He runs away from the orphanage searching for his father who left him as an infant on the doorsteps of the orphanage. Chamdi has no clue about the outside world. From inside the gates of the orphanage, he has often dreamt about how it would be outside the gates. He gives the land outside the gates a name - Kahunsha (City of no sadness).
Armed with just this dream, Chamdi leaves the orphanage. What he finds in the city is of course, no where close to what he had in mind.
But Chamdi is lucky. He finds himself companionship on the streets of Mumbai - Sumdi and his sister. At this point, we are taken into an even more cruel world- the world of forced bondage. The world where thugs like Anad Bhai literally "own" street beggars and get daily commisions from them.
The Song of Kahunsha is a brilliant book - harsh, cruel, unforgiving, without any mercy..but still gripping and heart wrenching.

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