Tanu Shree Singh
FRIENDS BEHIND WALLS by Harshikaa Udasi Puffin Books/Penguin, 2020, 144 pp., 199.00
November 2020, volume 44, No 11

This book was like revisiting my childhood and the boys’ all at once. The story is set in Deolali (Maharashtra) and echoes the memories of our childhood. The excitement of being in a new place, the thrill and apprehension of meeting new people and having to make new friends, forbidden or permitted. Friends Behind Walls is a nostalgic trip to a place that the reader might or might not have been to. Before this book, I didn’t know Deolali existed outside the odd map exercises in Geography classes in school. And yet, it feels like a page out of my own story. The book revolves around Putti and Inu. Putti has just come to Deolali for a vacation with his parents and Inu is his next door neighbour. Soon the two discover that they are not allowed to play with each other. No explanations are given by the grown-ups. However, Inu and Putti find a way out just as we did when we were kids. They work out a convenient system to meet at an abandoned house, play and then get scolded by their respective parents. As time goes by, the curiosity about the current state of affairs in Shanti Park, the society that they live in, is kindled and the two decide to dig out the truth behind the adults not talking to each other, and in the case of Inu’s and Putti’s parents, almost at each other’s throat.

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