Kumar and Raman are champion kite flyers. Lakshmi makes delicious burfis. Their friendship develops on the banks of the Kaveri in a tiny village named‘crow shit’. They are inseparable till tragedy strikes, shattering their idyllic childhood and altering the course of their lives.
The story then moves to Madras, into a house of eunuchs and the barber salon, Cool Cut. These are searing times in Tamil Nadu, and MGR is the revolutionary leader – God to his followers, who surge forward, their voices linked, their tongues loyal only to their mother tongue and to their deity. As the story follows the three friends coming to terms with their new lives, the author vividly brings to life 1970s Madras, with its politics of caste, geography, gender and language. Ultimately, The Kite Flyers is a poetic fable of friendship, severance and redemption.
Sharad P. Paul was born in England in 1966, but grew up in India. He is a doctor, writer, medical law-degree holder and social entrepreneur. His first novel, Cool Cut, was published in 2007. He is the man behind the Baci Group which includes Baci Lounge, an award-winning independent bookstore/café; Baci Cosmetologie, a skin care company; and Baci Foundation, a charity which runs literacy and mentoring programmers for disadvantaged children.
Visit him at www.sharadpaul.com.
For more on the book, visit www.tokillasnowdragonfly.com.
Kumar, the owner of Cool cut, a barber shop. He is kind-hearted and a good one with scissors. He is an efficient kite flyer too.
Lakshmi is a dreamer and a good friend who is brilliant in making coconut barfi.
Raman is an efficient kite flyer with dreams of making big. He is determined and doesn’t let circumstances to deter him. He continues to remain good in spite of the twist in his fate.
Gowrie teacher is a self-taught village school teacher. She is well-read and takes immense effort to lead her students towards the right path. She is the kind of teacher who forever remains in student’s memories.
Rajinder (The Evil One) has the heart of a mother… Mira (The Hooker) is understanding like a sister… Kamalam (The Professor) gives unconditionally without expecting anything in return.
What I think
To begin with, the cover page is very simple and depicts the essence of the book. It complements the title – The Kite Flyers. I also loved that fact that the book is hardbound with hard cover. It makes the book appear more interesting. The book blurb is brief, yet fascinating enough to arouse reader’s interest. The author’s note further garbs the reader’s attention and makes him/her wonder what is so special about the story.
I have a confession. When I saw the book’s name in IndiBlogger for review, the first thing that came to my mind is Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner; all the thanks to the similarity in the names. But then, when I noticed that the author Sharad P. Paul actually talks about the similarity in names, I fell in love with the book. I liked that humbleness in the tone.
Coming to the narrative style, it is outstanding. It starts as a first person’s narrative, from the point of view of a fifteen years old boy who visits Kumar’s Cool Cut. Then, as we are taken through the memory lanes of Kumar, Raman, Lakshmi and Gowrie teacher, it takes a third person narrative. But, such a shift in style is not confusing instead it makes the tale more intriguing. There are several thought-provoking sentences in the book that will linger in your memories. It also carries a tinge of philosophy with it.
Another interesting aspect about this books is that it talks about Tamil Nadu politics, the emergence of ADMK, the death of the celebrated MGR and the raise of Amma, Dr. Jayalalitha. It also touches the controversial topics like child marriage, the fate of untouchables/lower-caste people and the pitiable state of village schools. It extensively talks about the lives of eunuchs; their lives, thoughts and feelings. And most importantly, the love for the language Tamil and the hatred for Hindi; something that is still existing in Tamil Nadu.
Above all, a special thanks to the author for taking us through the villages of Tamil Nadu, Kaveri river, superstitions, adolescence, friendship and redemption.
The book is addictive.
It will linger in your thoughts and makes you cry!
Should you read it?
Don’t miss it…
It is an experience…
And you will enjoy it!