Funny Boy

Radha Aunty Character Analysis

Appa’s younger sister, who comes back to Sri Lanka when Arjie is seven. She is engaged to Rajan Nagendra, whom she met during her four years studying in America. However, she is nothing like the fair-skinned, elegant, formal aunty Arjie was expecting; instead, she is rebellious, freethinking, a poor pianist, and “as dark as a laborer.” But she also lets Arjie dress up in her clothes and wear her makeup, which turns them into best friends. They join a local production of The King and I together, and during their rehearsals they meet Anil Jayasinghe, who starts hitting on Radha and eventually wins her attention. After Ammachi threatens Anil’s family, loudly voices her opposition to Radha seeing a Sinhalese boy, and decides to send Radha to Jaffna to get her away from Anil, she starts to fall for him. However, Aunty Doris’s warnings about forbidden love make her question her feelings, and then she gets attacked by a Sinhalese mob on her way home. A family friend saves her, but half of Radha’s face is badly bruised, and she grows solemn and pessimistic in the following days. She finds herself unable to keep seeing Anil and decides to marry Rajan.

Radha Aunty Quotes in Funny Boy

The Funny Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Radha Aunty or refer to Radha Aunty. 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:
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of Funny Boy published in 1994.
2. Radha Aunty Quotes

This was not how a bride-to-be was supposed to behave. It was unthinkable that a woman who was on the brink of marriage could look like this and play the piano so badly.

Related Characters: Arjie (speaker), Radha Aunty
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
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"Because he’s an engineer and he doesn’t have insanity in his family."

Related Characters: Arjie (speaker), Radha Aunty, Ammachi, Anil Jayasinghe, Rajan Nagendra
Page Number: 49-50
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

“Be careful. We Sinhalese are losing patience with you Tamils and your arrogance.”

Related Characters: Anil’s Father (speaker), Radha Aunty, Ammachi, Anil Jayasinghe
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Radha Aunty didn’t answer for a moment. “Until a few days ago I only thought of Rajan, but now I find myself thinking of Anil as well.”

Mala Aunty sighed. “It’ll never work.”

“But other Sinhalese and Tamil people get married.”

“I know,” Mala Aunty replied, “but they have their par­ents’ consent.

“If two people love each other, the rest is unimportant.”

“No, it isn’t. Ultimately, you have to live in the real world. And without your family you are nothing.”

Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Sometimes I wonder if it was all worth it in the end. To have made all those sacrifices. Life is a funny thing, you know. It goes on, whatever decisions you make. Ultimately you have children or don’t have children and then you grow old. Whether you married the person you loved or not seems to become less important as time passes. Sometimes I think that if I had gone to England with them maybe I would have met somebody else….” She clicked her tongue against her teeth and laughed. “Anyway, there’s no point in thinking about that—no?”

Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
5. The Best School of All Quotes

I felt bitter at the thought that the students he punished were probably the least deserving. They were the ones who had broken his rules—no blinking, no licking of lips, no long hair—a code that was unfair. Right and wrong, fair and unfair had nothing to do with how things really were. I thought of Shehan and myself. What had happened between us in the garage was not wrong. For how could loving Shehan be bad? Yet if my parents or anybody else discovered this love, I would be in terrible trouble. I thought of how unfair this was and I was reminded of things I had seen happen to other people, like Jegan, or even Radha Aunty, who, in their own way, had experienced injustice. How was it that some people got to decide what was correct or not, just or unjust? It had to do with who was in charge; everything had to do with who held power and who didn’t.

Page Number: 268-269
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Radha Aunty Character Timeline in Funny Boy

The timeline below shows where the character Radha Aunty appears in Funny Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
2. Radha Aunty
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
...Nagendra—an old friend of Appachi’s from Cambridge—wants to marry his son Rajan to Appa’s sister Radha Aunty. In fact, the couple met in America, and Rajan requested the wedding himself. The... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Arjie, now age seven, does not even remember how Radha Aunty looks, since she went to America four years before. He looks at old photos... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
The first spend-the-day after Radha Aunty returns to Sri Lanka, Arjie wakes up excited to finally meet her. When his... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Radha Aunty asks Arjie why he is not “playing with the others,” and he lies that... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
At one point in the afternoon, Arjie asks Radha Aunty when she is to marry Rajan, and she jokingly pretends not to know who... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
...talks loudly about her bride-bride plans, wearing a bedsheet instead of a sari. Arjie imagines Radha Aunty dressed up for her actual wedding and feels “a glow of pride” for refusing... (full context)
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...of the King of Siam’s children in The King and I, a play in which Radha Aunty will also be acting. Excited about the prospect of “wear[ing] makeup and costumes and... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
On weekends, Arjie goes to Sonali’s girls’ school for rehearsals, where Radha Aunty introduces him to Aunty Doris, a white woman who curiously speaks with a Sri... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
The second time Anil drives Radha Aunty home, Ammachi interrogates her about “this boy you’re taking lifts from.” Ammachi is distraught... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
On the next spend-the-day, after play rehearsal, Janaki tells Radha Aunty that Ammachi has visited Anil’s family and told them to keep their son away... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Anil invites Radha Aunty and Arjie inside, and then Anil’s father comes in and sends Anil to go... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
At the next rehearsal, Anil asks Radha Aunty why her mother is so anti-Sinhalese, and Radha explains that Ammachi’s father was killed... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
At lunchtime, rather than ride with Anil, Radha insists on taking the bus, to Arjie’s confusion. At lunch, Radha and Arjie take the... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
The aunts reach Anil, Radha, and Arjie’s table; Kanthi Aunty asks, “what are you doing here?” but Mala Aunty escorts... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...Aunty’s car is out front and the whole family is waiting at the dining table. Radha Aunty briefly stops in her room and then follows Arjie to dinner. Ammachi explains that... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
From the house’s side garden, Arjie listens to Radha and Mala talk. Radha admits that she was never interested in Anil until Ammachi got... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
When Ammachi calls to get Radha Aunty kicked of the play, Aunty Doris refuses. They agree that Radha will stay in... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
...Aunty Doris’s experience losing her family, and he realizes that this is “a warning to [Radha]” and she might be kicked out of the family if she does marry Anil. Afraid... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Radha Aunty continues meeting with Anil in secret—even Arjie’s bathroom break at the zoo turns into... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
After Radha Aunty leaves for Jaffna, Arjie has to go to the play rehearsals alone, but feels... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
One day before Radha Aunty is set to return from Jaffna, the family hears of violent unrest there. Ammachi... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...and only listens to the radio, which reports a curfew in Colombo. During the meal, Radha Aunty arrives and reveals that, under her scarf, “the right half of her face [is]... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Ammachi leads Radha Aunty to her bed, where Mala Aunty, who is a doctor, examines her wound and... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Anil shows up at the house, asking for Radha Aunty, whom Kanthi Aunty says is not at home. Ammachi and Kanthi yell at Anil... (full context)
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...there was already violence near Arjie’s grandparents’ house, his immediate family brought Ammachi, Appachi, and Radha Aunty to stay with them for a while. One night, Arjie and Sonali wake up... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
...riots spread and stop, but Colombo remains safe. At play rehearsal on Saturday, Anil asks Radha Aunty about her wounds and then explains that he chose not to visit again because... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
After the next scene, Arjie and Anil notice that Radha Aunty is gone, and then find her crying outside the classroom. She sends Arjie back... (full context)
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
Radha Aunty and Rajan soon get engaged, and on the night of their engagement, Radha is... (full context)
5. The Best School of All
Masculinity and Queerness Theme Icon
Forbidden Love and Family Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...even though they “would be in terrible trouble” if anyone found out. He thinks of Radha Aunty’s love for Anil and Jegan’s fate at the hotel, both of which are similar... (full context)
6. Riot Journal: An Epilogue
Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Violence Theme Icon
Justice, Power, and Moral Awakening Theme Icon
...before, three days after Ammachi and Appachi were killed, and the day of their funeral. Radha Aunty came from America, and the way she held her head reminded Arjie of Ammachi.... (full context)