Between a Village and the Metropolis
Usha Hemmadi
A THREAD OF LIFE by Anoop Verma Srishti, 2006, 329 pp., 195
March 2006, volume 30, No 3

Three people are enmeshed in a story with a varied background. The hero, Anirudh Shukla is just seven years old when he runs away with a Naga Sadhu who calls himself Jungali baba.The boy’s mother has died suddenly, leaving him to the wiles of his cousins, Hari and Jhankana, older than Anirudh, yet not old enough to discount fairy-tale versions of a wicked stepmother in the offing. When his father does marry again, the child forgets the very great love his family has shown him, and lets himself be traumatized. It is somewhat incredible that he accompanies the trident-carrying ash-smeared sadhu on a journey through villages, towns, fearsome jungles and cremation grounds. Wherever they go, they rely on the locals to feed them or scrounge for food in the forests. Six years later, they reach Rishikesh. By now, Anirudh is satiated with a routine both idyllic and boring. Longing for a life as normal “as the one he had run away from”. He realizes that “in the battle in his mind Jungali Baba was squarely beaten by every man on the street that was properly attired, lived in a proper house, ate proper food.”

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