Anita and Me

by

Meera Syal

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Mr. Kumar (“Papa”) Character Analysis

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 explosive personality, as he tends to express rage and frustration at Meena’s bad behavior even when it relates to aspects of life that Meena cannot control, such as the vulgar words she hears in the street. He occasionally proves conservative, as he feels strongly about protecting his daughter from bad influences, in particularly coarse conversations about sex. Meena also notes that he has difficulty expressing his emotions, as he tends to become emotionally withdrawn when he is sad, instead of openly letting his tears flow and feeling better.

Mr. Kumar (“Papa”) Quotes in Anita and Me

The Anita and Me quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Kumar (“Papa”) or refer to Mr. Kumar (“Papa”). 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:
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 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:
Get the entire Anita and Me LitChart as a printable PDF.
Anita and Me PDF

Mr. Kumar (“Papa”) Character Timeline in Anita and Me

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Kumar (“Papa”) appears in Anita and Me. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
As Mr. Kumar drags Meena down the street, past the posh mansions, and toward the center of Tollington... (full context)
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Meena and her father pass the Big House, a mysterious, closed-off house that always looks deserted. The house stands... (full context)
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...him Mr. Topsy because he calls her “Topsy,”—he says he cannot pronounce her name. While Mr. Kumar stops to chat with Mr. Topsy, Meena uses this opportunity to eat a piece of... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
...Meena that the sailor on a commercial for cigarettes on Mr. Ormerod’s shop was her father Roberto, who received medals for serving in the Navy. Anita’s two friends then giggled and... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
By the time Meena and her father reach Mr. Ormerod’s shop, Mr. Kumar confronts his daughter again, asking her if she is... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
Meena knows that she should tell the truth to her father before they walk into Mr. Ormerod’s shop and thus make her embarrassment public. She hears... (full context)
Chapter 2
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...in a heated argument and wonders if they are fighting about their house, which her father is tired of, in part because it has an outdoor toilet and he has to... (full context)
Chapter 3
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
...focuses on her daughter, gently asking her why she stole money and lied to her father, but Meena stubbornly answers that she didn’t lie, even though she knows that her parents... (full context)
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...vegetables and the fresh smell of spices at the moment, preparing a meal that her father desperately needs after his day at the office, which he never talks about. Usually, as... (full context)
Chapter 4
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
...makes leathery farting sounds. Her mother stands up to go to the kitchen and her father tells her to sit down. He asks Meena to tell them in the future if... (full context)
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
After the story, Meena apologizes for lying and asks her father if he, too, fought in the war and did dangerous things. Papa tries to explain... (full context)
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
Meena describes the magical atmosphere that her father creates during such evenings. She recalls being woken up once by a fierce discussion between... (full context)
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Racism and Violence Theme Icon
Now, Meena is excited to hear what her father might have to say about Partition. Papa then describes being paid to deliver a package... (full context)
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...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 should cry from time... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Meena then describes what she knows about her grandparents, noting that her paternal grandfather Dadaji was a staunch communist who kept his son from having an acting career because... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
As Meena reflects on these issues, realizing that her father always gets depressed whenever he hears news about death, her father suddenly announces that her... (full context)
Chapter 5
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
...religions coexist peacefully in India, and that religions all lead to the same god. Meena’s father never had a religious upbringing because of Dadaji’s communist beliefs, and is frustrated by what... (full context)
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Racism and Violence Theme Icon
...prayers and rituals and does not remember much about that day. Back home, when her father asked her about her day, she almost told him but then realized that her father... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
...of trying to look older, and Meena finally accepts to take it off at her father and her Auntie’s insistence. (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...her feel insecure, since, by comparison, she is too awkward in her own body. Meena’s father then begins to sing, and Meena is deeply moved by the music, feeling as though... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...shag the arse off it.” This comment leads to the adults’ sudden, shocked silence. Meena’s father angrily asks her to repeat what she said but Meena, suddenly ashamed, does not. She... (full context)
Chapter 6
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
...nor a party, but she still receives clothes from her mother and books from her father. That Saturday, her parents throw a party for her. Mama, who thinks that Meena might... (full context)
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Friendship Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
When Meena explains that she now has her own friends, her father asks her why she spends so much time with Anita Rutter instead of Auntie Shaila’s... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
...house, after Meena has opened her presents and eaten happily, free of guilt. After Meena’s father talks with the shopkeeper, he takes Meena aside and asks her if she knows anything... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
After convincing Meena’s father to talk, Auntie Shaila discovers what has happened and decides to leave the house at... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Meena’s mother does not want to go to Fete with Meena and her father. Meena explains that mama has been overwhelmed by having to care for Sunil. To solve... (full context)
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
Meena recalls another time her father and she overheard Mr. Ormerod discussing Uncle Alan’s ideas with another woman. Mr. Ormerod told... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
...applauds, Meena concludes that this is the most romantic moment she has ever witnessed. Her father, though, is listening to an argument between Uncle Alan and Reverend Ince, the church vicar.... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Meena then leaves her father, who wants to go gambling. Her father loves to gamble, even though he is also... (full context)
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...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. Pembridge then announces... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
...remains frozen in place. Though everyone suddenly becomes uncomfortable and looks at Meena and her father, Anita, by Meena’s side, gives her friend no comfort. Meena is then horrified to hear... (full context)
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Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
Sam finally drives off on his moped, and Meena sees people offer support to her father. As she begins to walk toward him, Anita holds her back, telling her how alluring... (full context)
Chapter 8
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...takes Meena’s chin and tells her that she is a “junglee,” a wild girl. Although papa insists that this is not a compliment, Meena feels ecstatic, because she can tell that... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
...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 in... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...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 smoking,... (full context)
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...for the first time, Sunil begins sleeping full nights in his cot and sitting on papa’s lap to eat breakfast. (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...with Nanima, Meena learns about British soldiers stealing chickens from her family and sending her grandfather to prison for refusing to fight in the British army. Meena initially wonders if her... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
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...Meena has a fever. Meena lies down and wakes up hours later to see her father by her side. She asks him for water and her father gives her a special... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Friendship Theme Icon
...parents if she is a virgin and they react with shock and anger, cursing Anita. Papa then stands up, grabs Meena by the arm and says that she has become a... (full context)
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Meena’s father asks her mother if they should move, and Meena begins to panic, although she has... (full context)
Chapter 11
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
...tenth summer, like the fortune teller had predicted. The summer initially begins joyfully, as Meena’s father is awarded a promotion. Meena then realizes that she does not know exactly what her... (full context)
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Racism and Violence Theme Icon
Meena remembers going to her father’s work party as a child, where her father had talked with a man with a... (full context)
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When Meena asks her father what a promotion consists of, mama explains that it means more money and a bigger... (full context)
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Racism and Violence Theme Icon
The next morning, papa reads a report in the newspaper about an Indian man robbed and violently attacked in... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...unusual behavior—she asks Nanima what is wrong and sees her grandmother wipe off tears. Her father then says that Nanima has decided to go back to India the next day. Although... (full context)
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Racism and Violence Theme Icon
...believes that the girl needs open spaces instead of reclusion. When they finally arrive home, papa announces that while this is their home, they cannot stay there forever. That night, while... (full context)
Chapter 13
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
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Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...to behave like a typical Indian girl, studious and serious. One day, she overhears her father complaining about how happy Meena used to be. Mama interjects that Meena is happy, but... (full context)
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...with her about last night without talking to Sam. Meena tears the letter up. Her father, though, receives a letter from Harinder P. Singh, asking him to come to tea. Meena’s... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
...after hordes of reporters have tried to talk to Meena’s parents, Meena feels nervous. Meena’s father tells her that Tracey is accusing either Sam or Anita of pushing her into the... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
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...Meena takes the eleven-plus in her headmaster’s office. When she goes home, she sees her father setting up a “For Sale” sign in their front yard. Meena jokes that the exam... (full context)