by Mala Pandurang
Chinnamani’s World, Mukunda Rao. Penguin Books, India, 2003.
Chinnamani is eleven years old and lives in Indira Slum, one of the five hundred slums in the growing cyber-city of Bangalore. A large number of the slum dwellers in Indira Slum are migrant laborers from Tamil Nadu and work as construction laborers at rapidly expanding middle-class-housing layouts. Chinnamani reluctantly attends a nearby corporation school. He is passionate about cricket, and worships the Tamil ‘superstar’ Ranjnikanth. His father (Tharkari Thangamani) is a multi-lingual vegetable vendor filled with remorse at his inability to break his habit of drinking His mother (Parvati) does backbreaking construction work to ensure the family does not go hungry. It is Parvati’s determination to give Chinnamani an ‘English medium’ education that keeps him at a school he detests attending.