Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Crow Eaters: A Brief Summary

Faredoon Junglewalla, nicknamed as Freddy, was a strikingly handsome man with a soft and pleasant voice. When he died at sixty-five he attained the distinction of being listed in the 'Zarathusti Calendar of Great Men and Women'. In his youth he had come to Lahore with his wife, daughter and mother-in-law as a penniless man.

In Lahore, he started a store and soon established himself as a successful businessman. His manly bearing and soft-spoken manners quickly found their way into Punjabi hearts. But there has always been a thorn in his flesh. It was his mother-in-law, Jerbanoo, who was a constant source of worry for him. She did everything to disturb him.
Sick of her, he visited a mystic who asked him to bring a strip of her hair. When Freddy tried to cut her hair, she woke up and slapped Freddy in the face. Freddy actual intentions could not be known at that time however he remained successful in frightening her. Sensing the sensitivity of matters, Putli stopped the tyrannies of her mother and took over the charge of home.
Now Jerbanoo found another point to bother Freddy. She would often initialize the topic of death and talked about that till Freddy began to feel awed and frightened.
An insurance officer visits the Parsi community in Lahore. Freddy too gets his valuables insured with him. Later he hit a plan to win the insurance money. According to this plan, Freddy saves the valuables of his store in a warehouse and sets fire to his store to claim for the insurance money. He remains successful and gets a handsome amount from the insurance company.
After the episode of fire Jerbanoo changed and stopped creating problems for Freddy. In Freddy's presence she was as quiet as a fat little mouse. Years went by. Freddy expanded his business. As opportunity beckoned, he dabbled in a variety of trades. After getting the money from insurance company, he had never looked back.
On a hot summer morning, Freddy finds some salt in the drinking water. It was an indication that someone from the family wanted to get married. He made inquiries from his elder son, Soli and daughter, Yasmin. But both were not interested in marriage at that time.
However, soon his other son, Yazdi approaches him with the desire to marry his class fellow, an Anglo-Indian girl, Rosy Watson. Freddy could not allow him marrying outside the community. So he clearly refuses to allow Yazdi to marry Rosy.
Yazdi, who is shown as an over-sensitive boy is upset at the decision of his father. Later when he finds that Rosy is a part-time prostitute, his world staggers and he turns into an overly generous boy who wants to leave every luxury and is eager to spend everything on beggars. He takes his share from the family money, leaves home and gets himself busy in spending the monthly profit on beggars.
From a Brahmin Gopal Krishan, Freddy learns that his elder son, Soli will die in three months. The news worries Freddy very much. He does everything to escape the tragedy but remains unable to change the fate. Soli dies at the said date.
This changes Freddy altogether. He starts to take interest in religion. The whole responsibility of business falls to the shoulders of Billy who is a thrifty and miserly person. Billy has been conscious about money right form the days of his childhood.
An advertisement is printed in the newspapers to find a match for Billy. Out of hundreds of letters received in response of the advertisement one from Easymoney's is selected and Billy goes to Bombay with his mother Putli and his grandmother Jerbanoo to see the girl, Roshan. In Bombay, Billy falls in love with Roshan's sister Tanya. After a mild twist in the story, marriage between Billy and Tanya is settled and both are married in a grand luxurious style.
The Junglewallas leave Bombay four days after the wedding and take with them all of considerable luggage of Tanya while the married couple goes to Simla for honeymoon. In train Billy and Tanaya read their congratulation telegrams. Some of them were very interesting.
After honeymoon when Billy and Tanya arrive Lahore, they are taken to a new house which is gifted by Faredoon to the newly we couple. A staff has already been engaged. Billy has tears of gratitude in his eyes.
The house is furnished with essentials. Putli has thoughtfully left the selection of those things a woman likes to choose for herself to Tanya. Tanya's luggage has been unpacked and arranged, and ornamental articles have been placed on show in the drawing room.
Putli and Jerbanoo make problems for Tanya who at last complains Freddy about them. Freddy, as a result, announces to take Putli and Jerbanoo to London for a six month visit. In all their life, Putli and Jerbanoo have been impressed by their English rulers. But when in England they see them as a common men and women, all their ideals about them shatter and break.
Jerbanoo takes a revenge of this breakage from Mary, the wife of their host, Charles P. Allen. She taunts her, pokes her nose in every matter of her and soon makes it unbearable for her entertain them. By and by things get worse and they have to leave the house of Allen and to shift into a hotel.
In Hotel, too, Jerbanoo creates a fuss by unlawfully taking bath in the balcony. The man living under Jerbanoo's room complaints to the management and they in turn go to Freddy. At this Freddy decide to return to Lahore.
Tanya has had a hard time during the absence of Putli and Jerbanoo. She is pregnant once again. This time she gives birth to a boy. Freddy sees in this boy the image of his dead son, Soli. This event brings on the last phase of Faredoon's life. He loses his sense of challenge and striving and is content to leave the entire management of his business to Billy. He devotes himself to altruistic deeds, holding audience in his office room. In the month of June, at the age of sixty-five Faredoon falls ill. He knows his days are over and his end is near. In the last scene he tells his children that if the country faces a partition, they will side with the rulers and the object of their lives will always be to obey the rulers and find the ways of their survival.

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3 comments:

Muneeb Ahmad said...

excellent novel family problems are skillfully described.

Muneeb Ahmad said...

excellent novel family problems are skillfully described.

rashad qudir said...

Bepsi Sidhwa is a very bold novelist. she doesn't feel timid while exposing the flaws lied in Parsee's community as well as in feminism.


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