Translator: Lakshmi Holmstrom
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8187649135
A wry, humorous and a compassionate novel engaged with urban life in South India. Written against the backdrop of drought in Chennai, it is the story of ordinary man and women's daily, ingenious strategies and struggles to find enough water for their needs.
Against a more generalized story of the drought and the daily struggles of the ordinary people of Chennai, Asokamitran places the individual lives , sharply etched, of the two sisters, Jammuna and Chaya and their struggle to survive economically and spiritually in the chaos of the city. Charting of the drought months, as the story progresses, is paralleled cleverly, by the turning points in the girls' lives, Jammuna's inward struggle and her gradual discovery is juxtaposed all the time with the street scenes going on around her.
There are other ironies and contrasts embedded in the novel. One of the ironies that is very tightly woven in the novel is the notion of madi or ritual purity, rigidly maintained by some orthodox people even throughout the drought. This is brought out vividly in a central scene, where an old woman would rather empty out her hard won water, once it has been touched by others, than take it home and use it.