This is the softcopy of the sumary of The Village By The Sea. It can also be found in iVLE. I got it from there. As the test covers only from Chapter1 to Chapter 8, there is only the 8 chapters of summary.
Summary of all the chapters of ‘The Village by the Sea’
This chapter begins with Lila praying at the holy rock in the sea. It clearly gives us an indication of things to come. Lila as a thirteen year old is doing what the mother in the family would do- namely offer prayers for the well-being of the family. It is also described as the most peaceful time of the day for her giving the readers a hint about the rest of the day being hectic or filled with problems. Anita Desai then goes on to give the readers a background about Lila’s family where the father owned a boat a long time ago which was sold to pay debts as a result he no longer fished, while the family bore the burden of a weak and a sick mother as well. When Lila gets back home she has her two younger sisters waiting for her to make tea so that they can set off to go to school (typically a role that is fulfilled by the mother). Desai provides us with a detailed description of their home with its crumbling earthen walls, dry and tattered thatched roof, a clear symbol of the hard times that the family was facing. The only one who seems to be standing by Lila’s side appears to be her younger brother Hari who seems as trapped in the situation as she is herself. Both have quit their education due to poverty but seem to be managing to keep afloat because of their sheer determination and will to survive. Lila takes care of home and the sick mother lovingly giving her tea with extra milk to nourish her while Hari finds ways and means to make money by running errands, selling coconuts and also takes his younger sisters to school. All the children are scared of the father who has resorted to drinking alcohol to drown his sorrows leaving his family to fend for themselves, but though Lila worries about him Hari has grown to hate his father because of him shirking his responsibilities. A change in the situation seems to be on the horizon with timber arriving onto a site where a factory has been proposed to be built. The youth of the whole village seem to be swept away in this excitement, only Hari realizes that this may take a long time and meanwhile he needs to look for alternatives. Hari tries to work on their dry, arid field behind their hut and Lila gives him lunch which comprises of dry chapattis and green chillies (poor man’s food in India). Even their leisure time conversations are all about them trying to find solutions to their problems when Hari proposes that he may go to Bombay to work with the De Silvas.
In sharp contrast are Hari’s friends Bhola, Ramu and Mahesh who quit studying simply because it was too boring. They also believe that fishing and farmimg were for the uneducated without realizing they were on the way to being so themselves. They hope to get employed in the factories with high salaries and perks, but Hari seems to be the only one who realizes that they were probably not skilled or educated enough to do so. Bela and Kamal help out in their own way by collecting the mollusks from the barnacles and we have a sharp contrast drawn between the village women and the family of Biju who seems to be the richest man in Thul. The kids manage to get through a normal day in the village without any untoward incidents except for the night where they sleep terrified of their drunken father. Lila worries that the toddy will destroy his health where Hari wishes him dead. In the night once they all retire the night is described to be full of fear, anger and nightmares.
This chapter shows a little hope in the lives of the children. Hari has managed to sell coconuts so Lila has money to shop for provisions. She goes to the village market dressed in her best sari feeling younger and prettier. She meets her friend Mina who urges her to come to see the village play. This incident clearly shows us how the village seems to be blissfully unaware of the problems that Lila and Hari are going through. Meanwhile the village seems agog with the talk about the construction of Biju’s boat, which was supposed to be the first motorized boat of the village that will also have a deep-freeze.
Biju shows off to the villagers by making a big deal of how much he has spent on the boat, while the villagers out of sheer envy do not let go of one opportunity to ridicule him. Hari meanwhile dreams of Bombay with its bright lights. He feels it’s a very rich city and he might be able to make money only after going there. Hari would have kept worrying about their circumstances if it were not for the unexpected relief in the form of the De Silvas who arrive at their holiday home Mon Repos. The next few days Lila and Hari are kept busy running errands for the De Silvas in return for payment which they give them before they go back to Bombay. This time however things are a little different as Mr. De Silva asks Hari if is father would like to work as the watchman of their holiday home. Hari supports and brings his father to talk to Mr. De Silva but he refuses after seeing the drunken stupor that Hari’s father is in. Hari feels humiliated and enraged. Hari’s frustration mounts and he wants to escape his world of troubles, he also wants to put a smile back on his sisters faces but feels weighed down. It is then he meets the watchman of the construction site of the factory who confirms his worst fears where he tells him that people will be coming from all over the country to work in the proposed factories. He also calls him and villagers ‘pumpkin-heads’ thus adding insult to injury. Hari realizes that he would never earn enough to take care of his family or marry off his sisters so he would probably have to go to Bombay to work.
Lila and Hari’s mother’s health takes a turn for the worse and she is now also suffering from high fever. Since there is no doctor in the village and the closest medical help was only in Alibagh they resort to asking Hira-Bai for help. She is the mother of the scary Khanekar brothers who are after Lila’s father to pay their debt. Bela and Kamal are scared but still go down to the Khanekar estate to ask for help. Hira-bai sees them and enquires if they have come to borrow money from them to buy toddy, rice, tea or anything else. It was then they manage to tell her that they were there to ask for her help as their mother was worse off than before. She offers to send for the Medicine man for help who apparently has herbs and powders that can cure illnesses. Pinto who follows the girls is hit by one of the Khanekar brothers and comes back home howling and limping with them. The Medicine man arrives and instead of attending to Lila’s mother first demands that his ‘holy cow’ be given grass and water. He then built a fire into which he throws a handful of dried flowers accompanied by a whole lot of chanting, when the fire dies down he takes the ash produced by it mixes it with water and forces Lila’s mother to eat it claiming that it was purified ash. He then demands a payment and walks away with the only piece of jewellery in the house which is their mothers old, blackened sliver ring. This part of the chapter gives us an insight into the superstition rife in the village and people who are willing to take advantage of that aspect. The day only worsens when on of the Khanekar brothers arrives to threaten the girls and demands the money that Lila’s father owes them and refuses to believe when they claim that they had no money. Rescue comes in the form of Hira- Bai who saves the girls and chases her son away but before he leaves he threatens to kill lila’s father and Pinto because he attacked him. Hari walks in to discover his distraught sisters and feels more helpless than he already is and they are unable to find a solution to their problems.
Hari goes to the beach to see if he can get a job on Biju’s boat. The boat is almost done and it has been named Jal Pari and the villagers make fun of Biju’s boat and the name. Meanwhile the watchman comes along to add insult to injury and explains how the new boat was of no use as the government would soon take up the land for the new factories that were to be built. Hari’s friends are very excited at the confirmation of this news while Biju says he refuses to sell his land. He then confirms that there will be people brought in to work from different parts of the country and the villagers would definitely not be hired. Ramu is enraged. The village is filled with anger over the prospect of the government taking away their lands and a crowd collects outside the village temple by Adarkar and was a member of the legislative assembly, who egged the people to go to Mumbai with petitions so that they could not take away their lands or destroy the fish in the sea. Plans are made to collect at Rewas at the pier to go in a boat to Bombay to meet the minister. Hari goes to collect some ice for his sick mother all the while caught in the dilemma of wondering whether to stay back or accompany the villagers to Bombay. By the time he goes back more disaster awaits him and he finds out that Pinto has been poisoned and killed. His sisters are grief stricken, and this proves to be the last straw as he feels frustrated by the debt, the poverty, the grief and the helplessness surrounding him and instantly makes up his mind to go away to Bombay and put some distance between himself and his problems.
Biju’s boat is ready to be launched and he is full of pride. Biju gets the boat decorated with flags of different colours made from his wife’s sarees. All the villagers poured out of their huts and houses to watch. His wife breaks the ceremonial coconut to launch the boat. But when the winches that support the boat are removed and it was heaved onto the greased tree trunks to move it smoothly into the water the boat nearly topples over causing Biju to get very angry. All the people around laugh at Biju’s misery. When one of the young men informs him that people from Alibagh and Thul have gone to Bombay to protest against the factories, so that they can continue fishing and farming Biju tells him that they are not aware of the right way to do both these professions. That’s when Ramu still with his sense of undying optimism taunts him by saying that they are clever because they will be getting jobs in the factory which will not only be safe but will also give them plenty of money in their pockets. The workers are unable to launch the boat then and even after the tide came in. She is finally set to sea in a very quiet manner and without pomp and show a few days later ignominiously in the dark of the night. Meanwhile Hari has set off for Rewas.
Hari has managed to get a lift from a kind bullock cart driver to Rewas. He reaches the peirs where the boats with the protestors are getting ready to leave for Bombay. The Rewas pier is teeming with people. Hari is almost trembling with a combination of fear and excitement. The boat fast filled up with men and boys of different ages and sizes and they were also dressed in their cleanest clothes. Adarkar was the organizer from Alibagh and called out instructions as the people filed onto the boats. The boats set off and all the way the people sang and shouted with Adarkar constantly shouting to remind them of the whole purpose behind the trip that they were undertaking. Food and tea are passed around and Hari to manages to get some refreshments as he is mentally preparing himself for the hard times ahead as he gears up to find employment in Bombay as he knew it was going to be the most strenuous day of his life. Hari is awestruck by the sights, smells and the sounds of the city. He is shocked with the amount of traffic as the crowd from Alibagh heads towards Kala Ghoda running across the roads not in the least bit mindful of the traffic or the traffic lights. The police of the town appear and pass derogatory comments on them when they say that they had come to speak to the Chief Minister. Meanwhile Hari and the villagers are transfixed by the sight of another procession, one that only comprised of women clearly showing the demarcation between the sexes in the villages.
Finally when they reach Kala Ghoda the crowd is addressed by a man named Sayyid Ali who appears to be an environmentalist and also a spokesman for the citizens of Bombay.
He informs the villagers of the long term side-effects of having a factory come up in Rewas. Hari is quite stunned that an urban man could have so much information about the lives of the people in the villages. Sayyid Ali further goes on to say that the factories would cause much pollution in the surrounding areas compiled with the fact that their lands would be taken up by the government, all these leading to them losing their livelihood and moving to the already congested Bombay in search of employment. Hari feels that the speaker was directly addressing him as he had come to Bombay in search of work. He is followed by a speaker from the meteorological observatory who spoke about the geo-magnetic observatory and how it would have to be moved if the factories are built. The third speaker is Adarkar whose speech the villagers actually comprehend as he speaks primarily from their point of view. The representatives of the people then decide to march on to the Mantralaya (the parliament house) while the people waited for them at the pier. Hari stays back, left alone and desolate, wondering what to do next. Meanwhile in the hut the girls are taking turns at keeping a vigil by their sick mother’s side, giving her sips of water putting wet cloths on her forehead trying to bring the fever down. They finally sleep completely exhausted and when they wake up they are surprised to find Hari still missing. Lila wakes up and sends Bela and Kamal to get ice for their mother and look for Hari. The girls run into Mina in the village who then informs them that Hari was last seen accompanying the protest march to Bombay. When the girls get back Lila has finished burying Pinto and they give her this latest piece of information. Lila is stunned at the fact that Hari had deserted them and realizes that it was now up to her to rise above their troubles and come up with a solution and she also realizes that the prospect was frightening and difficult. Just when she is making up her mind to got to Alibagh to see a doctor for her mother the De Silvas arrive at Mon Repos again.
Meanwhile Hari is still stuck at Kala Ghoda and he realises he was very hungry so he decides to buy some coconut water to drink. He is stunned that it can cost as much as 2 rupees where in his village all he had to do was climb a tree and get one for himself. The coconut seller finds him a smaller one and sells it at a cheaper price to him. He then gives Hari some advice on Bombay and on how the government really did not care for the people and all it did was eat into the income of the people by charging them taxes. He tells Hari that the best was to be free and independent and to reach out and take what was needed instead of being polite. Hari then runs into a beggar who offers to teach him the deceptive ways of Bombay and how to make quick money for a fee. Hari moves off as he comes across as a dangerous man and reaches an area right next to the sea. He keeps walking on till he reaches a beach where different kids of food are being sold and is crowded with people. He asks for directions to Mr. De Silvas residence and gets the impression from the vendor that the De Silvas lived in a very posh area. Hari lands up in Malabar Hill and finds the building where he has the unique experience of getting into a lift. He reaches the 10th floor only to be ironically told that the De Silvas had gone to Thul.The lift operator sees him hovering around the building and then offers to take him to a friend of his who will probably provide him with a meal. This man’s name was Hira Lal and had been the watchman of the building for 12 years. He takes his to see Jagu who runs a cheap restaurant. Jagu provides him with a meal and also a place to stay for the night.
The Sri Krishna Eating house was a very shabby and a badly maintained restaurant run by Jagu and catered to cheap food for the labour class. The tables and chairs were covered with soot and cobwebs hung everywhere. As people had no fixed working hours the restaurant opened way before dawn and closed after midnight because of which Jagu had no time to clean up the restaurant or the money to decorate it. Jagu worked hard all day and had two boys to help him around in the kitchen. Hari requests him for a job in return for food and shelter and Jagu hires him offering to pay him 1 rupee a day. The other two boys spoke to each other in Tamil which was a language he did not know and they were not adept in Hindi or Marathi which were the languages he was fluent in. As a result they all worked in silence.
Hari would have probably continued like that if it was not for the owner of the shop next door called Ding Dong Watchworks called Mr. Paanwallah. Mr. Paanwallah tells him about Jagu and his kind nature and how he has often helped a lot of destitute children. Hari then remembers that he has a family to write to and borrows money from Mr. Paanwallah and goes to the post office to buy one. He addresses his letter to his mother informing her about his well being and lets her know that he is working in Bombay, feeling happy to have corresponded with his family but scared at the same time to have committed to staying back in Bombay for employment. Meanwhile Lila takes over the task of running errands for the De Silvas and also helps them in cooking and cleaning. Mr. De Silva offers to go to Alibagh for provisions the next day and that is when Lila sets her plan into action. Lila requests Mr. De Silva the next day to help her take her mother to a hospital and offers to pay him back by working for him. Even though she was sitting in the motorcar for the first time she could hardly enjoy the experience as her entire attention was on getting her mother safely to the hospital. Her mother is admitted in the hospital the doctors offer to take care of her. Mr. De Silva promises to bring her back to visit her mother and says that she should go back as her sisters would be helpless without her. When Lila goes back she is questioned by her father about the whereabouts of her mother. He is enraged to find out that she has been taken to Alibagh without informimg him and wants to go to be by her bedside. He also tells her that he would sort out the mess with the Khanekar brothers before he left. Lila is terrified that he would create a scene at the hospital but has no control over him so she lets him go. When she visits her mother at the hospital she is pleasantly surprised to find her father very sober and waiting in the verandah outside he mothers room. Even her mother is looking better had has been diagnosed with extreme anaemia and also having a touch of T.B. Mr. De Silva offers to pay the hospital bills and give her a salary. He even left a little money with her father as he stayed back in the hospital. He also informs Lila that after they leave a friend of theirs was to come to live at their house during the monsoons, and if she continued to help around the house then she would be paid well. In the last few lines of this chapter they finally receive Hari’s postcard.