Neela and Navi live with their Grandmother in the town of Marasaw as their own mother, Mari, is living in another country trying to make money to send home. Grandmother is a strict disciplinarian always warning Neela to stay away from boys and not allow them to touch her lest she end up like her own mother, pregnant and out of wedlock.
Navi is an extremely intelligent boy whose mathematical abilities awe everyone who meet him. Summing up complicated math problems in his head without much thought garners him a position in the yearly math contest.
Marasaw has nothing to offer anyone in the way of employment and certainly not for teenagers. Neela meets and swoons over her boyfriend, Jaroon, and when the government promises to allow young women to come and teach at their "school" in a remote area called: 'Nasee-Ki', Neela sneaks off in the middle of the night without telling her grandmother or her brother Navi, and Jaroon promises Neela he will follow her shortly.
Arriving in Nasee-Ki, Neela soon realizes she's made a grave mistake for there is no school, only a concrete pad to teach the children at and the area is surrounded by soldiers who are unpleasant at best and mean. The only teacher there is Karha who offers bribes of cigarettes to the soldiers to bring her reading texts for the children of this under-developed town.
Jaroon finally arrives in Nasee-Ki and quickly becomes well respected by the soldiers and is soon guarded from any type of harm. Jaroon is using young boys from the school to conduct his dirty work, stealing beer and cigarettes. Neela has no idea that Jaroon is using her own students to do this until two young boys are found shot to death at the edge of the bush. She soon finds herself pregnant with Jaroon's child and confronts him about using these young and innocent boys to conduct his dirty work, Jaroon slaps her and tells her NEVER to speak back to him again. Neela becomes frightened of Jaroon and begins to make plans to escape Nasee-Ki and return to Marasaw. Before her departure she gives birth to her daughter, Seetha, whom Jaroon tries to steal from her in camp.
Does Neela make it out of camp? Does she get back to Marasaw? Does Jaroon manage to kidnap Seetha? Hmm...you'll have to read the story to find out because I'm not going to ruin an EXCELLENT book for you!
This was a riveting page-turner that held my attention right from the first page and for a debut novel it was excellent! I look forward to other novels by this author.
May 14, 2011