Anita and Me

by

Meera Syal

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Meena Kumar Character Analysis

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. Her desire to rebel against traditional norms and conventions finds an outlet in her friendship with thirteen-year-old Anita, which also puts many of Meena’s principles to test. With Anita, Meena takes part in some reckless behavior, defying her parents’ authority by lying, stealing, and accusing others of her misdeeds. On other occasions, though, Meena proves deeply thoughtful and family-oriented. She often uses her imaginative powers—including lying—to protect her family members and demonstrate empathy for others, for example showing concern for Anita even when the older girl acts cruelly toward her. Meena also proves courageous and high-minded in her efforts to fight racism and discrimination, as she stands up to others to defend her vision of justice. Ultimately, Meena demonstrates her self-confidence and ambition by working hard at school to pass the eleven-plus exam and leave Tollington. Marked by her mixed Indian and English backgrounds, by the end of the novel Meena eschews categories and concludes that she is free to choose however she wants to define her own identity.

Meena Kumar Quotes in Anita and Me

The Anita and Me quotes below are all either spoken by Meena Kumar or refer to Meena Kumar. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oberon Books edition of Anita and Me published in 1996.
[Untitled] Quotes

I do not have many memories of my very early childhood, apart from the obvious ones, of course. You know, my windswept, bewildered parents in their dusty Indian village garb standing in the open doorway of a 747, blinking back tears of gratitude and heartbreak as the fog cleared to reveal the sign they had been waiting for, dreaming of, the sign planted in tarmac and emblazoned in triumphant hues of red, blue and white, the sign that said simply, WELCOME TO BRITAIN.

Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

I’m not really a liar, I just learned very early on that those of us deprived of history sometimes need to turn to mythology to feel complete, to belong.

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker)
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

‘You’re so lovely. You know, I never think of you as, you know, foreign. You’re just like one of us.’

My mother would smile and graciously accept this as a compliment. And yet afterwards, in front of the Aunties, she would reduce them to tears of laughter by gently poking fun at the habits of her English friends. It was only much later on that I realised in the thirteen years we lived there, during which every weekend was taken up with visiting Indian families or being invaded by them, only once had any of our neighbours been invited in further than the step of our back door.

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Mrs. Kumar (“Mama”)
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

I rarely rebelled openly against this communal policing, firstly because it somehow made me feel safe and wanted, and secondly, because I knew how intensely my parents valued these people they so readily renamed as family, faced with the loss of their own blood relations.

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker)
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

But to be told off by a white person, especially a neighbour, that was not just misbehaviour, that was letting down the whole Indian nation. It was continually drummed into me, ‘Don’t give them a chance to say we’re worse than they already think we are. You prove you are better. Always.’

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Mrs. Kumar (“Mama”) (speaker), Mr. Christmas
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

But whatever he did to make money was not what papa really was; whilst my Aunties and Uncles became strangers when listening to him, papa became himself when he sang. My tender papa, my flying papa, the papa with hope and infinite variety. And then one day I made a connection; if my singing papa was the real man, how did he feel the rest of the time?

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Mr. Kumar (“Papa”)
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

I wanted to tell him about the old lady, but then I looked at his face and saw something I had never seen before, a million of these encounters written in the lines around his warm, hopeful eyes, lurking in the furrows of his brow, shadowing the soft curves of his mouth. I suddenly realised that what had happened to me must have happened to papa countless times, but not once had he ever shared his upset with me. He must have known it would have made me feel as I felt right now, hurt, angry, confused, and horribly powerless because this kind of hatred could not be explained.

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Mr. Kumar (“Papa”)
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

Papa’s singing always unleashed these emotions which were unfamiliar and instinctive at the same time, in a language I could not recognise but felt I could speak in my sleep, in my dreams, evocative of a country I had never visited but which sounded like the only home I had ever known. The songs made me realise that there was a corner of me that would be forever not England.

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Mr. Kumar (“Papa”)
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

When I said that we talked, what I mean is that Anita talked and I listened with the appropriate appreciative noises. But I never had to force my admiration, it flowed from every pore because Anita made me laugh like no one else; she gave voice to all the wicked things I had often thought but kept zipped up inside my good girl’s winter coat.

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Anita Rutter
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

I had seen how in an instant, those you called friends could suddenly become tormentors, sniffing out a weakness or a difference, turning their own fear of ostracism into a weapon with which they could beat the victim away, afraid that being an outsider, an individual even, was somehow infectious.

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Anita Rutter, Tracey Rutter, Kevin and Karl
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

I knew I was a freak of some kind, too mouthy, clumsy and scabby to be a real Indian girl, too Indian to be a real Tollington wench, but living in the grey area between all categories felt increasingly like home.

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Anita Rutter
Related Symbols: Mama’s Necklace
Page Number: 149-150
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

‘They’ll want cookers!’ giggled mama. ‘Doesn’t he know we were fitting bidets into our houses when their ancestors were living in caves? Oh God!’ and then she went suddenly quiet and looked hard at papa. ‘God Shyam, is that how they see us? Is it really?’

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Mrs. Kumar (“Mama”) (speaker), Mr. Kumar (“Papa”), Mr. Ormerod
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

It was all falling into place now, why I felt this continual compulsion to fabricate, this ever-present desire to be someone else in some other place far from Tollington. Before Nanima arrived, this urge to reinvent myself, I could now see, was driven purely by shame, the shame I felt when we ‘did’ India at school, and would leaf through tatty textbooks where the map of the world was an expanse of pink, where erect Victorian soldiers posed in grainy photographs (…).

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Nanima
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr Topsy/Turvey watched her with devoted eyes. ‘I served in India. Ten years. Magical country. Magical people. The best.’

‘Shouldn’t have bloody been there anyway, should you?’ I muttered under my breath. ‘Who asked you to lock up my grandad and steal his chickens?’

I was by now walking fast, making Nanima puff and trot a little to keep up, but I could still hear him shouting behind us, ‘We should never have been there. Criminal it was! Ugly. You look after your nan! You hear me, Topsy!’

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Mr. Turvey (“Mr. Topsy”) (speaker), Nanima
Related Symbols: The Big House
Page Number: 222
Explanation and Analysis:

‘. . . understand why, but just think if you could use all that energy to do some good. Find out who the real enemies are, the rich, the privileged, not the other people trying to make a living like you, not people like . . .’

Related Characters: Uncle Alan (speaker), Meena Kumar, Nanima, Sam Lowbridge
Related Symbols: The Big House
Page Number: 226
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

Sherrie did not even know that her parents were thinking of moving, Sherrie and Anita did not know what I suddenly realised now, that Deirdre had no intention, ever, of buying Anita a horse. Sorrow flooded me until it rose up to my eyes and made them sting. Anita, the same skinny harpy who had just narrowly missed gouging out another girl’s eyes, was now whispering lover’s endearments into a fat pony’s ears. She needed me maybe more than I needed her. There is a fine line between love and pity and I had just stepped over it.

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Anita Rutter, Deirdre, Sherrie
Page Number: 242
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

I decided there and then to heal myself, both in body and mind. It was time. I asked mama to bring in all my school books to prepare for the eleven-plus, I would grow my hair long and vaguely feminine, I would be nice to Pinky and Baby and seek out their company willingly, I would write letters to India and

introduce myself properly to that anonymous army of blood relatives, I would learn to knit, probably, and I would always always tell the truth.

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Mrs. Kumar (“Mama”), Pinky, Baby
Related Symbols: The Eleven-Plus Exam
Page Number: 284
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

I now knew I was not a bad girl, a mixed-up girl, a girl with no name or no place. The place in which I belonged was wherever I stood and there was nothing stopping me simply moving forward and claiming each resting place as home.

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker)
Page Number: 303
Explanation and Analysis:

‘You wanted to hurt people, you mean!’ I yelled at him. ‘How could you say it, in front of me? My dad? To anyone? How can you believe that shit?’

Sam grabbed me by the wrists and I sucked in air and held it. ‘When I said them,’ he rasped, ‘I never meant you, Meena! It was all the others, not you!’

I put my face right up to his; I could smell the smoke on his breath. ‘You mean the others like the Bank Manager?’

Sam looked confused.

‘The man from the building site. The Indian man. I know you did it. I am the others, Sam. You did mean me.’

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Sam Lowbridge (speaker), Rajesh Bhatra (“The Indian Bank Manager”)
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:
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Anita and Me PDF

Meena Kumar Character Timeline in Anita and Me

The timeline below shows where the character Meena Kumar appears in Anita and Me. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
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Meena Kumar reflects on the earliest memories she can recall. She lists what she describes as... (full context)
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Meena admits that her first memory involves understanding an actor’s pun on television. Her mother says... (full context)
Chapter 1
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As Mr. Kumar drags Meena down the street, past the posh mansions, and toward the center of Tollington and Mr.... (full context)
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Meena and her father pass the Big House, a mysterious, closed-off house that always looks deserted.... (full context)
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Meena notes that everyone’s front yards are filled with flowers and gnomes, but that her own... (full context)
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When Mr. Kumar and Meena reach Mr. Ormerod’s shop, Meena recalls speaking to Anita Rutter and her closest friends, Sherrie... (full context)
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The day after Anita told Meena about the poster, Meena saw Roberto at the bus stop and asked him about his... (full context)
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By the time Meena and her father reach Mr. Ormerod’s shop, Mr. Kumar confronts his daughter again, asking her... (full context)
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Meena recalls getting into trouble once, after a boy at school said that this region was... (full context)
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Meena knows that she should tell the truth to her father before they walk into Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 2
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On the steps outside her house, Meena sits and eats her candy, concluding that feeling sick will be adequate punishment for stealing... (full context)
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On the way back, Meena was eating a hot dog in the car when she felt the sausage get stuck... (full context)
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Meena describes her mother as someone who does not raise her voice often but who is... (full context)
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Meena calls the group of Indian friends who regularly come to her house “Aunties” and “Uncles,”... (full context)
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Meena also describes learning about her parents’ love story through the Aunties. She discovered that her... (full context)
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Reflecting on her Aunties, Meena describes once complaining to them about the fact that her family does not have a... (full context)
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As Meena eats her candy in front of her house, she hears her parents take part in... (full context)
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Meena describes her alternate fascination and boredom with her mother’s stories about home in India, though... (full context)
Chapter 3
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While Meena is sitting on the steps in front of her house, Anita Rutter walks by. She... (full context)
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Meena follows Anita from a certain distance, knowing that it is an honor merely to be... (full context)
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Meena explains that Mrs. Christmas has cancer and is likely to die. Meena then realizes that... (full context)
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Meena is about to ask Anita if she has seen Mrs. Christmas recently when Anita suddenly... (full context)
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...needs peace and quiet. He threatens to tell the girls’ mothers about what has happened. Meena, who feels as though she has already gotten in enough trouble for one day, begs... (full context)
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Meena tries to get Anita to apologize as well, but Anita merely says that she doesn’t... (full context)
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A few minutes later, when Meena and Anita reach Anita’s house, Meena sees Tracey, Anita’s sister, a pale, weak-looking child, the... (full context)
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Hairy Neddy is the only bachelor in the village and Meena recounts an anecdote when his musical band tried to drive away with their various instruments... (full context)
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Meena describes the village’s atmosphere, noting that adults sometimes get into vicious fights. She explains that... (full context)
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Meena is thus forced to walk home, wondering if she behaved in the wrong way. On... (full context)
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When Meena reaches her house, she sees her mother at the Bike Shed, a small shed in... (full context)
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Mama walks to Mrs. Worrall, giving her an old vase. Meena says that she is hungry but refuses the Indian food her mother offers her, asking... (full context)
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After mama walks back into the house, Mrs. Worrall asks Meena if she would like to help her out with cooking. Meena has seen Mrs. Worrall’s... (full context)
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Mrs. Worrall tells Meena that she is making jam tarts, which her husband, Mr. Worrall, loves. Meena accepts to... (full context)
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As Meena gets ready to leave, she realizes that Mrs. Worrall is courageous to take care of... (full context)
Chapter 4
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When Meena enters her home, she sees her parents sitting on a fake leather chair, which they... (full context)
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After the story, Meena apologizes for lying and asks her father if he, too, fought in the war and... (full context)
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Meena describes the magical atmosphere that her father creates during such evenings. She recalls being woken... (full context)
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Now, Meena is excited to hear what her father might have to say about Partition. Papa then... (full context)
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That night, Meena is woken up by the sound of an ambulance siren. She looks outside and sees... (full context)
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...if Anita hadn’t disturbed Mr. Christmas, no one might have known about Mrs. Christmas’s death, Meena feels sick and has to lie down. She worries that Anita’s and her screaming might... (full context)
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...three weeks later in his sleep. While mama gets ready to go to the funeral, Meena notices that her father is in one of his bad moods. She argues that he... (full context)
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Meena then describes what she knows about her grandparents, noting that her paternal grandfather Dadaji was... (full context)
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After Meena’s parents talk about their own parents, she sees them holding hands and realizes that her... (full context)
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As Meena reflects on these issues, realizing that her father always gets depressed whenever he hears news... (full context)
Chapter 5
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The next time Meena runs into Anita Rutter is in late October, by which time her mother’s tummy has... (full context)
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From that moment on, Meena's mother decides to treat Deirdre coldly, showing her only a polite façade, at odds with... (full context)
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That day, Meena’s mother has been cooking for weeks to prepare for Diwali, what she refers to neighbors... (full context)
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Meena’s mother tells her that all religions coexist peacefully in India, and that religions all lead... (full context)
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The day after this, Meena’s mother took her to the gurudwara in Birmingham, the Sikhs’ place of worship. This was... (full context)
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Meena exited the car and apologetically asked drivers to go back. She had expected aggressiveness, but... (full context)
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Meena was so shocked by the woman’s words that she could not concentrate on the prayers... (full context)
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On Diwali, Meena’s parents organize a mehfil with the Aunties, Uncles, and their children. Meena, who wishes she... (full context)
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When Meena and Anita pass by the Big House, Anita crosses herself, saying that a witch lives... (full context)
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When the two girls reach the fair, Meena reflects on the fascinating, romantic life that the fair people must lead, as they move... (full context)
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...boy called Tonio, which leaves Fat Sally and the last boy, Gary, to stay together. Meena sees the boy’s disappointment about being stuck with Fat Sally change into relief when he... (full context)
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...to them, finally admitting that he said he wanted “to shag the arse off me.” Meena, who until then has felt completely invisible, concludes that this must be a compliment. Noticing... (full context)
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When Meena arrives home, she pretends that she is fine. She looks at herself in the mirror... (full context)
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After Meena comes back down and notices the various groups that have formed, she realizes that her... (full context)
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Meena thus finds herself forced to sing. As Meena sings in Punjabi, though, she notices people... (full context)
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In her room, Meena changes out of her Indian outfit. She goes back down after a long time, though... (full context)
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After stepping outside, Meena heads toward the fair instead of their outdoor toilet. She notices Sam Lowbridge and his... (full context)
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Meena then walks toward Sherrie and Tonio. She sees a bruise on Sherrie’s neck and does... (full context)
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Anita then yells at Meena that she is going to buy some food and Meena agrees to wait for her.... (full context)
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When Anita returns, Meena decides that she will not leave the girl alone. She lies to Anita that Deirdre... (full context)
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...later, after Anita has screamed to Gary to tell the Poet to call her tomorrow, Meena once again tries to keep Anita away from the caravans. However, Anita leads Meena past... (full context)
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Meena decides to follow Anita, who shows her Hollow Pond, where Jodie Bagshot drowned years ago.... (full context)
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The sudden sound of Anita running interrupts Meena’s moment of fascinated stupor, and Meena realizes that an angry dog is following them. Completely... (full context)
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When Meena reaches her home, which is still brightly lit and full of activity, she is surprised... (full context)
Chapter 6
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After Meena’s brother Sunil is born, she decides that she immediately hates him, although she is surprised... (full context)
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Once Meena’s brother Sunil enters their household, everything changes. During the weeks when mama is in the... (full context)
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When mama returns home, she spends most of her time taking care of Sunil, and Meena decides to spend most of hers with Anita. The two girls decide to start a... (full context)
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Anita and Meena call their gang the Wenches Brigade. The two girls plan their future life in London... (full context)
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...twin brother Kevin then says he can hit a nearby clover patch with his pee. Meena feels underwhelmed by the sight of the boys’ penises, which she compares to mushrooms. Anita... (full context)
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...Tracey to participate. She tells her to take off her pants. Shaking, Tracey does so. Meena notices how thin the girl’s legs look and begins to feel very uncomfortable. She wants... (full context)
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Meena decides that she needs to act quickly if she does not want Anita to start... (full context)
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Reflecting on these events, Meena realizes that she has recently noticed such behavior among Tollington’s adults as well. After the... (full context)
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After the peeing competition, Anita sits down with Meena and tells her about sex, finishing her talk by noting that, afterwards, the woman needs... (full context)
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Though Meena finds the idea of sex disgusting, she also wonders if anyone will ever find her... (full context)
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During this troubled period, Meena celebrates her tenth birthday. She tells her parents she wants neither presents nor a party,... (full context)
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When Meena explains that she now has her own friends, her father asks her why she spends... (full context)
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Instead of longing to be something she is not, Meena then concludes that she is neither a Tollington native nor a full Indian girl, and... (full context)
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That evening, Auntie Shaila brings her two daughters to Meena’s birthday party. Although Meena used to enjoy Pinky and Baby’s presence, she now finds them... (full context)
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Anita then challenges Meena to steal as well. However, Meena is too scared to behave quickly enough, and Mr.... (full context)
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Stuck in this situation, Meena has the idea of asking Mr. Ormerod to grab some polish for her mother. While... (full context)
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On their way home, the cousins protest about what has happened but Meena forces them to keep quiet by saying that she could easily tell the police they... (full context)
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Later that evening, Mr. Ormerod comes to the Kumars’ house, after Meena has opened her presents and eaten happily, free of guilt. After Meena’s father talks with... (full context)
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After convincing Meena’s father to talk, Auntie Shaila discovers what has happened and decides to leave the house... (full context)
Chapter 7
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When Meena later reads about the Sixties, she realizes that Tollington had no real sexual revolution of... (full context)
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Meena’s mother does not want to go to Fete with Meena and her father. Meena explains... (full context)
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At Fete, Meena hears Uncle Alan argue with Mr. Ormerod, telling him that he believe Africans should be... (full context)
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Meena recalls another time her father and she overheard Mr. Ormerod discussing Uncle Alan’s ideas with... (full context)
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Meena also recalls the story of one of their friends, an Auntie, who was attacked by... (full context)
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At Fete, Mr. Pembridge makes a speech about the Tollington community. Sam Lowbridge, who Meena is shocked to see has cut his hair close to his scalp, interrupts him. Accompanied... (full context)
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When Meena reaches Sandy’s stand, she sees that the woman is selling home-made, shapeless stuffed animals, which... (full context)
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Hairy Neddy then passes a note to an overjoyed Sandy, and Meena realizes that he is proposing to her. As Sandy begins to cry and everyone applauds,... (full context)
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Meena then leaves her father, who wants to go gambling. Her father loves to gamble, even... (full context)
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Taking Meena’s hand, the fortune teller tells her that her mother will soon have health problems but... (full context)
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...her. Furious, Anita insults the fortune teller and leaves, taking the money with her. Afterwards, Meena tries to apologize for her friend’s behavior, but the woman ironically asks her if she... (full context)
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Meena spends the rest of the afternoon following Anita from a distance, since she knows not... (full context)
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As the afternoon draws to an end, everyone waits around to hear Mr. Pembridge’s speech. Meena notices her father waving a whiskey bottle at her, which he won by gambling. Mr.... (full context)
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At these words, Meena remains frozen in place. Though everyone suddenly becomes uncomfortable and looks at Meena and her... (full context)
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Sam finally drives off on his moped, and Meena sees people offer support to her father. As she begins to walk toward him, Anita... (full context)
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When they arrive home, Meena can tell that something is wrong. They find her mother in the living room, with... (full context)
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The next day, Meena sees Anita and Fat Sally take a detour by her house to show her that... (full context)
Chapter 8
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When Nanima arrives in Tollington, welcomed at Meena’s house by her family as well as Auntie Shaila’s, everyone in the village notices the... (full context)
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...the chair that always makes leather farting sounds, she begins to laugh uproariously, which makes Meena giggle. Nanima then takes Meena’s chin and tells her that she is a “junglee,” a... (full context)
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...answers people’s questions about home, though she tells stories about people no one actually knows. Meena’s father translates for Meena, and the young girl notices how happy everyone seems to be... (full context)
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...give Mr. Kumar many compliments, flirting with him playfully as they usually do, which makes Meena’s father blush but amuses her mother. At one point, while the adults are drinking and... (full context)
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During the party outside, Meena witness two strange events. She sees a man drop Deirdre off near the Big House,... (full context)
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When Meena goes up to her room, Nanima is sleeping on one side of her double bed.... (full context)
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Nanima’s arrival revolutionizes life in Meena’s house. Nanima’s presence has magically allowed Sunil to distance himself from his asphyxiating relationship with... (full context)
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Through her exchanges with Nanima, Meena learns about British soldiers stealing chickens from her family and sending her grandfather to prison... (full context)
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Meena also discovers some of the less romantic aspects of life in India. After Nanima mentions... (full context)
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One day, at the beginning of Easter holiday, when Meena, Sunil, and her mother come home, they cannot find Nanima. Walking out to search for... (full context)
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Meena and her mother then go to Mrs. Worrall’s house, where they are bewildered to discover... (full context)
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Ten minutes later, Meena finds herself walking in the street with Nanima and Sunil. Meena attempts to use the... (full context)
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When the man whom Meena calls Mr. Topsy arrives, everyone is shocked to hear him speak Punjabi with Nanima. Meena... (full context)
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Meena and her grandmother then go to Mr. Ormerod’s shop to buy groceries. Meena, who sees... (full context)
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When Nanima returns, Meena counts the change and realizes that some is missing. Furious, she walks back into the... (full context)
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...their way home, they run into Uncle Alan talking to Sam Lowbridge and his friends. Meena overhears Alan tell Sam that he should use his energy to go after the true... (full context)
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On their way home, Meena keeps on feeling sharp pain in her head. When her mother sees her, she concludes... (full context)
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Later during the night, Nanima comes to lie down and whispers sentences to Meena in Punjabi that Meena is surprised to understand. Nanima recalls her short childhood, getting married... (full context)
Chapter 9
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The next day, Meena leaves Nanima alone with mama, who is also on holiday. She goes to Anita’s house,... (full context)
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When the two girls reach Sherrie’s farm, Meena chats with Sherrie’s father for a few moments. He tells her that he will be... (full context)
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Although Meena expects Anita to get angry at her, Anita merely complains about Tracey being there. When... (full context)
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...that everyone in the village says that Anita and her mother Deirdre are “slags,” and Meena is shocked to notice Anita’s acceptance of this violence, as though Anita had made Sally... (full context)
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...her head, Anita calmly stands up to ride Sherrie’s horse Trixie. When she does so, Meena is awed by Anita’s horseback riding talent. She has a natural, completely fearless attitude on... (full context)
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...will be wonderful for Anita to have a horse so that they can ride together, Meena realizes that neither girl knows that Anita will never have a pony, and that Sherrie... (full context)
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As Meena prepares herself to ride Trixie, they hear the sound of a car accident and run... (full context)
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When Meena returns home, she realizes that she does not even know how she walked home. Her... (full context)
Chapter 10
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A few days before the summer vacation, Meena notices Anita sitting by herself in the park. Anita goes to the comprehensive school, whose... (full context)
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Meena concludes that her last interaction with Deirdre represented Deirdre’s way of asking Meena to look... (full context)
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That evening, at dinner, Meena asks her parents if she is a virgin and they react with shock and anger,... (full context)
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Meena’s father asks her mother if they should move, and Meena begins to panic, although she... (full context)
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When Anita arrives, Meena is shocked by the girl’s bad manners, even though she already knows that Anita is... (full context)
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When Anita sees Meena’s parents eat their chapattis and curry with their fingers, she is shocked and disgusted. To... (full context)
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Throughout the evening, Meena notices that Nanima is expressing a strong dislike toward Anita. She blocks the television screen... (full context)
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After hours of trying on Meena’s Indian clothes, the girls walk back down. When mama hugs Anita to say goodbye, Anita... (full context)
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When Meena asks her mother if Anita can come over again, mama says that they could do... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Meena explains that her childhood started to end during her tenth summer, like the fortune teller... (full context)
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Meena remembers going to her father’s work party as a child, where her father had talked... (full context)
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When Meena asks her father what a promotion consists of, mama explains that it means more money... (full context)
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...Punjabi. Mama is impressed that her son can speak before reaching one year old, and Meena regrets not growing up bilingual herself. (full context)
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In the meantime, during the summer, everyone seems to be enjoying a carefree life. Meena goes to Sherrie’s farm almost every day, where she spends time with Anita. However, although... (full context)
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Trouble begins when mama discovers that her diamond necklace is missing and Meena, who does not like remembering that she lost it, says that she knows nothing about... (full context)
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...who begin to insult the diggers and drive around them with their mopeds. After joining Meena, Anita wants to go see what is happening. The two of them run closer to... (full context)
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Meena is furious to see Anita walking toward Sam, but Anita does not seem to care.... (full context)
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Meena loses sight of Anita and walks home, feeling saddened and degraded by Sam’s words. Back... (full context)
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...suffering from head injuries and broken ribs. Although papa tells Nanima that nothing has happened, Meena and her parents avoid eye contact. Unlike Nanima, they know that this is an earth-shattering... (full context)
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One day at Sherrie’s farm, Anita and Sherrie begin sharing information about their respective bras. Meena does not want to be dragged into the conversation and stays away. However, when Sherrie... (full context)
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...seeing someone, but Anita refuses to say anything, although she smiles knowingly. At that moment, Meena realizes that her best friend has not told her about her boyfriend, and that she... (full context)
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After leaving, Meena still hears the two girls talking. Anita excitedly relates taking part in a “Paki bashing,”... (full context)
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After this, Meena does not remember things clearly. She throws up by the shed and suddenly decides to... (full context)
Chapter 12
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In the children’s section of the hospital, Meena lies in between a girl called Angela and a vey sick boy, Robert, who is... (full context)
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Meena remains haunted by the image of Anita watching her get into the ambulance. She imagines... (full context)
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Meena finds her roommate Angela boring and begins to converse with Robert, who writes notes to... (full context)
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When Meena finally has paper and a pen, Robert and she begin playing games and exchanging pieces... (full context)
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When Meena’s parents arrive one evening with gifts and a birthday cake for Sunil, Meena realizes that... (full context)
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At the end of the evening, Nanima leaves, blessing and lauding Meena in Punjabi, and it is only once Meena’s family is gone that she feels the... (full context)
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One day, when nurses bring a plastic Christmas tree into the room, Meena notices that Robert’s bed is empty. She desperately asks a nurse what has happened, and... (full context)
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On December 20th, Meena gets ready to leave the hospital. Nurse Sylvie, who knows how much Meena cares about... (full context)
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Meena is initially quiet and shy, but they both agree to tell each other something the... (full context)
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As Meena’s parents drives her home, Meena is shocked to learn that the motorway is open, that... (full context)
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When Meena goes to the hospital for physiotherapy, she is told that Robert is having some more... (full context)
Chapter 13
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That year, Meena spends a lot of time on her own. She uses exhaustion as an excuse, and... (full context)
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Meena removes her cast at the hospital in mid-January, a sad experience since she is still... (full context)
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...moved out and there are plans to turn the old school into a big supermarket, Meena feels peaceful in her own protected world. She begins to behave like a typical Indian... (full context)
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Reflecting on her upbringing, Meena concludes that her parents’ well-meaning efforts to protect her from the outside world only made... (full context)
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Meena spends two intense weeks studying for the eleven-plus. During this time, however, when Tracey is... (full context)
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The night before Meena’s exam, her entire family is tense. Her parents try not to mention the exam, although... (full context)
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That night, when Meena is already in bed, she hears fierce knocking on the door and wakes up terrified.... (full context)
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Meena gets dressed quickly and slams the door. She runs after Tracey, who enters the Big... (full context)
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Finally, they reach the top of a slope overlooking the pond. In a clearing, Meena sees Sam lying and moving on top of Anita, while Anita, on her back, remains... (full context)
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In the meantime, Meena hides behind a tree and Sam easily picks Tracey up. Anita begins to insult her... (full context)
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Meena, who is still worrying about her exam the next day, is then terrified to hear... (full context)
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Meena then realizes that Sam has a frustrated, confused attitude, which Meena recognizes from spending time... (full context)
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Suddenly, Sam grabs Meena’s wrists and tells her that she has always been her favorite. He adds that Meena... (full context)
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In despair, Meena rings the doorbell at the front door of the Big House. When a small woman—who... (full context)
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Mireille then makes Meena, who is showing signs of exhaustion and nervousness, sit in a study by the fire.... (full context)
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Mireille’s monologue is then interrupted by Meena’s mother frantically calling out for her daughter. When mama finally hugs her, looking both angry... (full context)
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...next few days, this story soon becomes famous in the press, and reporters invade Tollington. Meena watches all this activity from her window. In emotional shock, Meena suffers from strong shaking.... (full context)
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The next morning, Meena receives a letter from Anita asking her to meet with her about last night without... (full context)
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When the police come to Meena’s house that morning, after hordes of reporters have tried to talk to Meena’s parents, Meena... (full context)
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When Meena remembers that the pain she felt for Nanima and Robert was much more intense than... (full context)
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The next day, Meena takes the eleven-plus in her headmaster’s office. When she goes home, she sees her father... (full context)
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...moving to a pleasant neighborhood, where half of their neighbors will be Hindu. She gives Meena a beautiful pen with a note explaining that Meena will need it at her grammar... (full context)