My Daddy and the Well paints a restful landscape filled with the simple pleasures of childhood—a world that any reader can recognize and delight in. With his lips stained pink with the juice of kokum fruit, the child protagonist takes us through his various adventures while visiting his native village in Goa along with his father. The short story is beautifully illustrated by Lavanya Naidu, emanating a nostalgic retreat into childhood while exquisitely capturing the essence of a Goan village. Newly back from the city, the child is enraptured by the freedom that the countryside represents. He spends endless hours catching fish, climbing old stone walls called durigs and helping his father cook dodol out in the open.
But it is only through his ‘daddy’ that the child is able to re-imagine the little village Moira in Goa—as it was—without the electric lights and the water pumps. At the centre of this quiet past life in Moira lay the Moira bananas, which were red and could be ‘as big as a boy’s arm’. These bananas were constantly thirsty and needed a complicated system of irrigation, which required ‘daddy’ to jump into the well repeatedly in the morning every day, after having had his delicious kanji with mango pickle. It is only after the coming of the water pumps that the daily ritual disappears. But so do the Moira bananas. As everyone, very much like the child’s father, moves to the city for a better life, the ecological and emotional cost of urbanization becomes apparent. The child’s father doesn’t just bemoan the disappearance of the bananas but rather deplores the passing of the old ways, in which children built their own playthings and were raised to respect the environment.