Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Review: Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai

Sampath Chawla is unusual, different from others. On the day he was born, it rained after a long dry spell and missed monsoon causing drought. He always looked slow and rather dull while growing up making his father lose all hopes on him. But his grandmother was optimistic and used to say “Though it appears he is going downhill, he will come up out on the other side on top of the world. He is just taking the longer route”. But Sampath induced confidence in no one else. He loses the job he had as a post-office clerk. He does not seem to get the ways of this world.

One day he disappears from his house and reaches a guava orchard and settles himself in a guava tree. The family learns this later and makes all attempts to get him down but unsuccessfully. One doctor examines Sampath on the tree and gives up; another suggests arranging a marriage would help solve the issue. Sampath’s family finds a match for him, bring the bride to the tree but the girl falls off from the tree. When multiple attempts to bring Sampath down from the tree fail, his family begins to live in the orchard and make arraignments to supply food to Sampath using a rope and pulley.


A band of monkeys arrives at the tree Sampath is housed and they too approve his stay on tree top. They begin to protect Sampath from those trying to trouble him. The news spreads and attracts people from surrounding places. People begin to identify Samptah as ‘Baba’, and few start calling him ‘Moneky Baba’ too. Monkeys on the tree develop a taste for the alcohol which the visitors had left behind. They became a menace and to put an end to it, District Collector orders to catch all of the monkeys to leave them in a distant forest. When the staff arrives along with nets to catch monkeys and surround the tree, Sampath is to be seen nowhere. At the place he was sitting a guava with a mark resembling a birthmark of Sampath is found. Leader of the monkeys picks it up and the whole gang of monkeys moves away from the tree towards the hill top.

This was the first book of Kiran Desai. She surely has inherited writing talents of her mother, a well known author Anita Desai. One can see the making of a Booker winning author in her first work itself.