Anita and Me

by

Meera Syal

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Meena Kumar

Protagonist and narrator Meena is nine years old when Anita and Me begins. A daughter of Indian immigrants, she has grown up in the English village of Tollington and struggles to define her cultural identity… read analysis of Meena Kumar

Anita Rutter

Anita is a domineering, self-centered thirteen-year-old girl who enjoys manipulating the people around her. Although Anita initially seems to share certain personality traits with Meena, such as a desire to rebel and a love… read analysis of Anita Rutter

Mrs. Kumar (“Mama”)

Meena’s mother is known in the Tollington community as a warm, kind, and beautiful person. She has a principle of being friendly with everyone, although she makes an exception for racist and intolerant people… read analysis of Mrs. Kumar (“Mama”)

Mr. Kumar (“Papa”)

Like his wife Mrs. Kumar, Meena’s father is devoted to his family and wishes he were closer to his Indian parents, to be able to take care of them. He has an occasionally… read analysis of Mr. Kumar (“Papa”)

Nanima

Meena’s maternal grandmother is a joyful, caring person who takes an immediate liking to Meena. She recognizes her granddaughter as a wild, boisterous soul—perhaps just as mischievous as Nanima herself when she was young… read analysis of Nanima
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Sam Lowbridge

Sam Lowbridge already has a criminal record at the age of sixteen and is thus considered Tollington’s rebel. He drives around the village with his gang on mopeds and intimidates little children, although he shows… read analysis of Sam Lowbridge

Tracey Rutter

Emotionally vulnerable, shy, and discreet, Tracey is the complete opposite of her rebellious older sister Anita. Tracey apparently suffers from sexual violence, likely perpetrated by her father Roberto. Perhaps because of this, Tracey… read analysis of Tracey Rutter

Robert

After breaking her leg, Meena meets Robert at the hospital, where he is confined to an isolation room and separated from Meena by a window. Robert is a boy who suffers from an unnamed, severe… read analysis of Robert

Deirdre

Recognizable by her high heels and mini-skirts, Anita and Tracey’s mother is an unstable presence in her daughters’ lives. Her obsession with sex makes her behave in unscrupulous ways, as she has sex with… read analysis of Deirdre

Uncle Alan

The youth leader of the local Methodist church and teacher of the Sunday school Meena goes to, Uncle Alan is considered handsome and charming by most women in Tollington. He is also devoted to taking… read analysis of Uncle Alan

Mr. Ormerod

The local shopkeeper is known for being gentle, talkative, and condescending toward foreign peoples. He proves close-minded about religious and social topics, and tries to convert everyone to Christianity. His views are largely patronizing, as… read analysis of Mr. Ormerod

Sherrie

The farmer’s daughter is one of Anita’s two best friends at the beginning of the novel. Meena finds Sherrie pretty and sometimes wishes she looked like her. When Sherrie receives a horse, Anita begins… read analysis of Sherrie

Fat Sally

Although Fat Sally (a nickname everyone seems to use) is initially one of Anita’s two best friends, she later shows herself inclined to stand up to Anita and challenge the girl’s opinions. When Anita… read analysis of Fat Sally

Mrs. Worrall

Meena’s family’s direct neighbor is kind, generous, and shows a strong interest in Meena’s happiness. Meena is soon impressed by Mrs. Worrall’s strength and endurance, as the older woman takes care of a severely… read analysis of Mrs. Worrall

Auntie Shaila

Auntie Shaila is the closest Auntie to Meena’s family, and is present at most family gatherings. Meena describes Auntie Shaila as “the fattest, noisiest, and most fun of all the Aunties.” Auntie Shaila behaves… read analysis of Auntie Shaila

Uncle Amman

Much quieter and self-effacing than his wife Auntie Shaila, Uncle Amman is the first person Meena’s father meets in England. Generous and kind, he helps papa become accustomed to England. He has a heart… read analysis of Uncle Amman

Mr. Turvey (“Mr. Topsy”)

Meena nicknames this neighbor “Mr. Topsy” because he insists on calling her “Topsy,” which he claims is easier to pronounce than her real name. Mr. Topsy—whose real name is Mr. Turvey—speaks Punjabi and impresses everyone… read analysis of Mr. Turvey (“Mr. Topsy”)

Mr. Christmas

A Tollington villager whose wife Mrs. Christmas soon dies of cancer. He remonstrates Anita and Meena for screaming in the entry by his house and threatens to talk to their mothers about it. He is… read analysis of Mr. Christmas

Hairy Neddy

Anita’s neighbor is given this nickname because of the extensive facial hair he has when he first moves to Tollington, a time during which he also has a rock band. He is the village’s… read analysis of Hairy Neddy

Harinder P. Singh (“Harry”)

The mysterious owner of the Big House is revealed to be Indian, which surprises Meena and her family, since they only discover this near the end of the novel. After studying at Cambridge, where he… read analysis of Harinder P. Singh (“Harry”)

Rajesh Bhatra (“The Indian Bank Manager”)

This Indian man, who Meena thinks looks like a bank manager, works for the men in charge of building the motorway that passes through Tollington. Meena feels an instinctive affinity toward him because both of… read analysis of Rajesh Bhatra (“The Indian Bank Manager”)

The fortune teller

This woman, whom Meena calls the Mysterious Stranger, gives Meena and Anita accurate predictions about their future, foreseeing challenges but success for Meena and a mediocre lifestyle for Anita, whom she predicts will likely become… read analysis of The fortune teller

Sunil

Meena's younger brother, who is born in the middle of the book. Meena is initially jealous of her brother, who gets all of Mama's attention (even other characters think that Sunil is too… read analysis of Sunil
Minor Characters
Mr. Worrall
Mrs. Worrall’s sick husband is unable to move or communicate. However, despite not understanding Punjabi, he immediately connects with Nanima and Meena concludes that the two old people understand each other through their grunts.
Roberto
Anita and Tracey’s father’s personality remains largely unknown. He works at a tire factory and is probably the author of the sexual violence against Tracey, although this remains undetermined.
Mrs. Christmas
Mrs. Christmas, who is sick of cancer, behaves kindly toward Meena. She also generously donates her clothing, as she knows that she is soon going to die.
Sandy
A divorcée, Sandy soon shows interest in Hairy Neddy and tries to seduce him in various ways. It is only after she gives up on this pursuit that Hairy Neddy reciprocates, ultimately asking her to marry him.
Mireille
Mr. Singh’s wife welcomes Meena into her house after Meena tells her that Tracey has fallen into the pond. Although Meena initially believes that Mireille is a witch, the old woman proves extremely talkative and affectionate, sharing with Meena the story of her life.
Pinky
– One of Auntie Shaila’s daughters and Meena’s “cousins,” Pinky is sweet and gentle. Although Meena initially enjoys spending time with her and her sister Baby, she later finds them too boring.
Baby
Pinky’s sister, one of Auntie Shaila’s daughters and Meena’s “cousins.” Meena steals Mr. Ormerod’s can of money in Pinky and Baby’s presence and then accuses Baby of this misdeed. The girls prove too shy and guilt-ridden to defend themselves.
Kevin and Karl
These young twins, whom Meena describes as hyperactive, form part of Anita and Meena’s gang. They are cruel and inclined to humiliate others, as they make fun of Tracey.
Glenys
Sam Lowbridge’s mother is the oldest single mother in Tollington. Meena’s mother disapproves of Glenys’s habits, which involve smoking and playing bingo. Glenys seems detached from her son’s life, having little control over his actions and little knowledge of his whereabouts.
Dadaji
Meena’s paternal grandfather was a staunch communist who kept papa from having an acting career because he believed people should devote their lives to politics, not entertainment. His anti-religious views affected Meena’s father, who believes that people should act in the name of humanity, not religion.
Nanaji
Nanima’s husband and Meena’s maternal grandfather, he only appears in photographs and in Nanima’s stories. During British colonization in India, he was committed enough to his principles to refuse to fight in the British army, which caused him to be sent to prison.
Dadima
Meena’s paternal grandmother, a kind-looking lady whose face is marked by suffering, only appears in photographs.
Dave “The Poet”
A boy whom Anita meets at the fair and begins to go out with. He abandons Anita, whom he was kissing minutes earlier, to go have sex with her mother Deirdre.
Tonio
A member of Dave’s group of friends, Tonio spends time with Sherrie at the fair, kissing her.
Gary
A member of Dave’s group of friends, Gary spends time with Fat Sally at the fair. Although he is initially disappointed to be stuck with Sally, whom he perceives as unattractive, he later shows relief not to be matched with Meena, thus revealing his racist views.
Jodie Bagshot
A four-year-old girl who went missing for three days and was later found to have drowned accidentally in the Big House pond.
Cara Mitchell
Cara, a young woman in Tollington, shows signs of mental illness, and is sent to a psychiatric institution against her parents’ will. This shocks Meena, who believes that the girl needs open spaces instead of being locked up in a cell.
Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell
Meena calls Cara’s parents the “Mad Mitchells.” Of humble economic means, they live in a cluttered house next to Meena’s family.
Mr. Pembridge
A local Tory councilor and businessman, Mr. Pembridge lives in a mansion in Tollington. He opens his house’s gates every spring for Fete, in which local artisans can sell their products and donate to charity. He gives lofty speeches in an authoritative manner.
Beryl Pembridge
Mr. Pembridge’s wife proves infinitely less elegant and refined than her husband. She speaks in a miner’s accent and embarrasses her husband by behaving drunkenly at Fete.
Reverend Ince
The church vicar gets into an argument with Uncle Alan at Fete about how to spend the money they have collected. He acts selfishly in his decision to use the money raised to repair the church roof.
Sylvie
A kind nurse at the hospital who helps Meena enter into Robert’s isolation room and talk to him face-to-face for the first and only time.