Contemporary

Squeezing Lemons

by Amrita Anand Nayak
This story revolves around Piyali aka Piyu and Ajoy. Piyu, a lovely, spirited and compassionate woman, is a successful and well-known stage-comedienne working in Mumbai. She hails from a poor family in a small village of West Bengal from where she fled to Kolkata at the age of five, along with her elder brother, Ajoy. Ajoy is the other main character of the story. He is mute and deaf since birth, though his sharp intellect and intuitive brain make up for this disability and he is determined to turn the destiny for himself and his sister by his sheer willpower and sapience. Their childhood is spent in abject poverty and two meals a day is a luxury for them. Their mother tries her audacious best to provide them with food and education and their grandmother dotes on them. But their alcoholic father is a disgrace and after their mother’s death, he is all set to sell the kids off. The kids get a whiff of his contemptible intention and flee to Kolkata and their adventures begin. From there, the tale of their survival on the menacing streets of Kolkata picks up and they learn to keep the hopes and humour alive in the harshest of circumstances. A large part of the book revolves around their interesting escapades in Kolkata and their mentor, Mrs. Das, a woman of steel. Mrs. Das runs a hostel where Piyali and Ajoy find their second home. There are challenges galore but Ajoy and Piyali are seasoned fighters by now, who face the troubles with great aplomb. Ajoy works as a young busboy in a local café, where he cuts and squeezes hundreds of lemons throughout the day, with a smile on his lips. His hard work pays off. Later, the story moves from Kolkata to Mumbai as the siblings let their ambitions soar. Ajoy ends up opening a unique restaurant, where all the staffers are mute and deaf and Piyu becomes a stand-up comedienne who occasionally performs using sign language too. Both of them meet their love interests in Mumbai and Ajoy gets married to Kimaya, a rich, overweight girl who is depressed beyond imagination over being ‘fat’ till she meets Ajoy and Piyu. Piyu is charmed by Robbie, a suave Goan restaurateur. Piyu’s life comes a full circle when she gets entangled in the life of her house maid, Neeta, her abusive husband and her young daughter Saishaas she realizes that Saisha resembles a young Piyu in many ways. Towards the closing of the book, the readers are forced to ponder about the pros and cons of adoption through Piyu’s predicament. In a society where adoption is still not very popular or easy, and the mindsets are still not progressed enough, Piyu has to go through a lot of opposition and emotional turmoil to save a young girl’s childhood and her future. Piyu and Ajoy’s journey has many ups and downs but when the going gets tough, the tough gets going! In the end, hope and fortitude overpower despair and adversities.
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