22 December 2007

Meher Pestonji, Sadak Chhaap, 2005

‘Sadak chhaap’ means ‘street kid’ in colloqial Hindi, and this charts five years in the life of Rahul, one of Mumbai’s many thousands. The book opens with him discovering a baby girl wrapped in newspaper on a railway station, but this hint of a plot-in-the-making is dropped in favour of Rahul’s ups and downs as he frequently tries to makes good before regularly letting himself go, preferring the unstructured freedom that street life offers. This spirals down into drug abuse and paedophilia while friends watch on in despair. Realistic in its rather plotless form, one is often left wondering where the book will end up though Pestonji is thankfully uncompromising in her refusal to provide a fairytale ending.   PY

  Meher Pestonji has campaigned extensively for a change in rape laws, housing rights for slum-dwellers, and a more sensitive understanding of street children and their special needs. She lives in Mumbai.

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