The reader learns about Swami’s grandmother, who lives with him in a passageway of his parents’ house and whom he calls Granny. Swami spends time with his grandmother after eating dinner, feeling warm and safe with her. He tells his grandmother about his new friend Rajam and how wonderful he is, and he expresses particular excitement that Rajam’s father is the Police Superintendent. Swami goes on to list all of Rajam’s good qualities, often cutting his grandmother off rudely when she tries to speak. She tells him about his brilliant grandfather, but Swami ignores her and continues talking about Rajam.
This first scene featuring Swami’s grandmother shows again how reliant Swami is in these early chapters on the unfailing comfort of his home and family. Still self-centered, Swami seems barely aware of his grandmother’s personhood but nevertheless derives security from her presence. Swami’s enthusiasm for befriending the son of the Police Superintendent shows that he is not yet skeptical of those in power.
Swami becomes suspicious that his grandmother is not listening to him and that she does not believe how wonderful Rajam is, but she emphasizes her approval of Rajam and Swami is comforted. She begins to tell him a story that Rajam reminded her of, but Swami falls asleep halfway through her telling.
By falling asleep during his grandmother’s story of the past, Swami again shows that he has little conscious understanding of history’s influence on his own life.
Swami sits at home studying at his father’s orders, trying to understand the meaning of a poem. His mother brings him a snack and then, finally, his father leaves for work at the court. As soon as his father is gone, Swami runs out of the house to visit his friends, ignoring Granny when she calls to him. He goes first to Mani’s house and then, together, they go on to Rajam’s house. Although they are nervous at first, the policeman outside Rajam’s house is polite to them and takes them inside to see Rajam.
Unable to leave home without his father’s permission, Swami is at this point still defined by his role within his family. He remains disrespectful of his grandmother, taking her love for granted. Mani and Swami’s slight nervousness upon meeting the policeman outside Rajam’s house also shows that they are beginning to sense the first inklings of threat from the powerful enforcers of their community.
Swami and Mani are impressed by Rajam’s house, which is large and tidy. Rajam comes to meet them and shows off his amazing collection of toys. Then, Rajam orders his cook to bring in a plate of snacks. Rajam bullies the cook in order to impress his new friends, but the cook talks back to Rajam, at which point Rajam brings the snacks in himself while telling his friends that he left the cook lying unconscious in the kitchen.
This encounter seems to cement the close friendship between Swami, Mani, and Rajam, setting them on the path that will lead Swami away from the safety of his family and into a more complex understanding of the world. Rajam’s desire to impress his friends with acts of violence again illustrates the boys’ enmeshment in their society’s notions of power and importance.