Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Behind the Beautiful Forevers Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Zehrunisa is terrified that the police are coming to her house to arrest Abdul for the attack by the disabled man, but the police have come to ask if anyone knows where Kalu’s relatives are because Kalu is dead. Abdul is shattered by the news, both grieving for his friend and convinced that he will be arrested for this murder, as well.
Abdul’s intense grief over Kalu’s death has many layers due to the complicated nature of relationships in Annawadi. Though Abdu truly did care for his friend, concerns about mourning a loved one are also mixed up with concerns about Abdul’s personal well-being and the further loss that could come from this crime.
Themes
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
Some of the slum boys, including Sunil, run to see the body, both out a morbid curiosity and to make sure that it is really Kalu who has been found. The police keep them away from the body, but Sunil sees Kalu being loaded into a police van. Sunil walks home along the beautiful forever wall, feeling more hopeless than ever about the fate of small slum boys in a big world.
The slum boys understand that Kalu could have been misidentified, knowing that the police do not care enough about slum boys to tell them apart. Kalu’s unceremonious death, on the rich grounds of the airport, reminds Sunil that the divide between the rich and the poor in India is too wide for him to cross.
Themes
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
The Sahar Police Station makes a habit of recording the murders of “inconsequential people” as deaths due to disease. It is decided that Kalu died of tuberculosis and his body is cremated to erase any signs of attack. The police also take advantage of Kalu’s death to make sure that no other slum boys are allowed on airport grounds. They arrest any boys found inside the airport fences and threaten to charge them with Kalu’s murder if they stay in Mumbai, neglecting to mention that Kalu’s death record has already been filed away.
For the police, the majority of Indians are inconsequential people because their families could not afford to pay the police to do a full investigation. The deaths of the poor do not matter to the officials in India, such that Kalu’s death is used as a further excuse to scare the slum boys and restrict their movements.
Themes
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
Sanjay, one of the Annawadians arrested after Kalu’s death, comes sobbing to Zehrunisa with the real story of how Kalu died. Kalu had been attacked by a prominent gang for no understandable reason and Sanjay is now just as afraid that the gang will come for him as he is that the police will arrest him again. Sanjay flees Annawadi and moves back with his mother in the slum Dharavi, five miles south of Annawadi.
Life and death follow no understandable path to slum boys like Sanjay. There is no true reason why Kalu was killed, and his death will not matter to anyone of a higher social class. Living in Annawadi, for Sanjay, means accepting that he could be the next to die a faceless and meaningless death.
Themes
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
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Back in Dharavi, Sanjay becomes much more protective of his younger sister in the wake of his friend’s murder. His younger sister is confused, wondering if Sanjay is so saddened by the news about Kalu because Sanjay is high on Eraz-ex. Sanjay tells his sister to get proper sleep, then seems to fall asleep himself on the floor of their hut. A few hours later, Sanjay’s mother comes home to find Sanjay convulsing on the floor. It turns out Sanjay drank rat poison while his sister was making dinner. He dies two hours later. His death is recorded as the suicide of a heroin addict who couldn’t afford another hit.
Sanjay’s suicide, rather than a rejection of life all together, is a passionate refusal to live a meaningless life. In his conversations with his sister, Boo shows that Sanjay does care deeply about those around him and wants them to have prosperous, comfortable lives. Yet Sanjay cannot see a way for a slum boy like himself to ever matter. He takes his death into his own hands rather than waiting for someone else to steal his life as Kalu’s was stolen.
Themes
Life and Death Theme Icon
Sunil and Abdul become closer after Kalu and Sanjay’s deaths. They theorize on who killed Kalu, guessing that airport security guards or drug dealers had gotten to him. Kalu’s father can find out nothing, while Sanjay’s mother is completely distraught. No one will tell her anything about why Sanjay would kill himself, not wanting to get into the messy circumstances of Kalu’s murder. Meanwhile, the police and the airport security forget anything about the deaths of two meaningless boys.
Kalu and Sanjay’s families are given no closure, as helping these grieving people would open the other Annawadians to the hardship and death that these boys faced. Again, personal profits have to take precedence over kindness. To keep living themselves, the Annawadian must forget Kalu and Sanjay – though it is more painful for them to do so than it is for the authorities to completely forget the lives of these two boys.
Themes
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon