The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide

Piya Roy Character Analysis

Piya is a cetologist (a biologist specializing in marine mammals) who comes to the Sundarbans to conduct a survey of the river dolphins. Though she was born in Calcutta to Bengali parents, Piya grew up in Seattle and never learned Bengali. However, she knows that in her line of work, she doesn't always need spoken language to communicate. This idea comes to the forefront when she meets the fisherman Fokir. Even though the two can't speak to each other, Piya recognizes that she and Fokir can communicate in a way that seems more honest and more meaningful than she believes they'd be able to could they speak to each other. This stands in stark contrast to her relationship with Kanai; even though they can speak to each other, Kanai initially has little interest in getting to know Piya, which keeps Piya from feeling comfortable opening up to him. Piya begins the novel believing wholly in the power and goodness of conservation efforts. As the novel progresses, Piya is forced to recognize that conservation isn't always a force for good—it often happens at the expense of poor people like Fokir. Though Piya and Fokir are clearly attracted to each other and develop a quiet romance throughout the novel, they never act on their feelings for each other. About six weeks after the cyclone, when Piya returns to Lusibari, she suggests that she'd like to name her ongoing project after Fokir. She also wants to work with local fishermen to carry out her project and share funding with the Babadon Trust, which suggests that she learned that conservation efforts are most effective when implemented in a way that actually helps locals.

Piya Roy Quotes in The Hungry Tide

The The Hungry Tide quotes below are all either spoken by Piya Roy or refer to Piya Roy. 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:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Mariner Books edition of The Hungry Tide published in 2006.
Part 1: The Launch Quotes

Piya was so startled that she looked at the picture again, with fresh eyes, wondering what he might be thinking of […] Like an optical illusion, the picture seemed to change shape as she looked at it; she had the feeling that she was looking at it through his eyes.

Related Characters: Piya Roy, Mejda
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 1: The Boat Quotes

It was not just that he had thought to create a space for her; it was if he had chosen to include her in some simple, practiced family ritual, found a way to let her know that despite the inescapable muteness of their exchanges, she was a person to him and not, as it were, a representative of a species, a faceless, tongueless foreigner.

Related Characters: Piya Roy, Fokir
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 1: Words Quotes

How do you lose a word? Does it vanish into your memory like an old toy in a chest, and lie hidden in the cobwebs and dust, waiting to be cleaned out or rediscovered?

Related Characters: Piya Roy, Fokir, Piya's Father
Related Symbols: Gamchhas
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 1: Listening Quotes

The two of them, Fokir and she, could have been boulders or trees for all they knew of each other, and wasn't it better in a way, more honest, that they could not speak? For if you compared it to the ways in which dolphins' echoes mirrored the world, speech was only a bag of tricks that fooled you into believing you could see through the eyes of another being.

Related Characters: Piya Roy, Fokir
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 2: A Post Office on Sunday Quotes

"He loved the work of Rainer Maria Rilke […] Rilke said 'life is lived in transformation,' and I think Nirmal soaked this idea into himself in the way cloth absorbs ink. To him, what Kusum stood for was the embodiment of Rilke's idea of transformation."

Related Characters: Kanai Dutt (speaker), Piya Roy, Nirmal Bose, Nilima Bose, Kusum
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 2: Interrogations Quotes

"Because it was people like you," said Kanai, "who made a push to protect the wildlife here, without regard for the human costs. And I'm complicit because people like me […] have chosen to hide these costs, basically in order to curry favor with their Western patrons. It's not hard to ignore the people who're dying—after all, they are the poorest of the poor."

Related Characters: Kanai Dutt (speaker), Piya Roy, Fokir
Related Symbols: Tigers
Page Number: 248-49
Explanation and Analysis:
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Piya Roy Character Timeline in The Hungry Tide

The timeline below shows where the character Piya Roy appears in The Hungry Tide. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: The Tide Country
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The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
Immediately upon stepping onto the train platform, Kanai spots a young woman (later revealed as Piya) who looks out of place with her dress, haircut, and stance. Kanai thinks he's a... (full context)
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Kanai watches Piya board the train, noting that she seems accustomed to traveling like this. He loses sight... (full context)
Part 1: An Invitation
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Twenty minutes outside of Kolkata, Piya has the opportunity to move to a window seat. The train is stopped, so she... (full context)
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Piya feigns admiration and asks how Kanai knew she's American. He explains that he's a translator,... (full context)
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Piya explains that she was born in Kolkata but moved to Seattle with her parents when... (full context)
Part 1: Canning
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Kanai watches Piya walk away, hoping she'll visit—he's unmarried but has had a long string of sexual relationships... (full context)
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...greets Kanai. As she leads him out of the station, Kanai tells her about meeting Piya on the train and says he invited her to visit. Nilima asks if Kanai read... (full context)
Part 1: The Launch
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Within four hours of arriving at the Forest Department office, Piya has the necessary permits to conduct her survey. Her triumph feels less sweet when she... (full context)
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Usually, fishermen are able to figure out what Piya wants when confronted with the flashcard. However, Mejda's response is strange: in English, he asks... (full context)
Part 1: The Fall
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Late in the day, Piya spots a fishing boat. She's spent hours already standing in the front of Mejda's boat,... (full context)
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When Piya points out the boat and asks for a detour, she notices that the forest guard... (full context)
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Looking up, Piya notices that the forest guard has boarded Fokir's boat and is taking money from the... (full context)
Part 1: Snell's Window
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...a point at the submerged viewer's eye. It doesn't hold true in muddy water like Piya finds herself in. When she can't figure out which way is up and feels mud... (full context)
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Piya goes still so that Fokir can swim back to his boat. When he tosses her... (full context)
Part 1: Fokir
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As Piya relaxes, she starts experiencing shock. Tutul puts his arms around her to warm her as... (full context)
Part 1: The Boat
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Piya notices that Fokir's boat is pieced together out of pieces and bits of various objects... (full context)
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When Piya comes out from behind the sari, she notices that Fokir has changed, and the sun... (full context)
Part 1: At Anchor
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Piya notices a cluster of six fishing boats tied together in the middle of a waterway.... (full context)
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Fokir lights a lamp and shows Piya how to bathe on the boat, bathing Tutul as an example. He rubs Tutul down... (full context)
Part 1: Words
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After her shower, Piya crawls to the front of the boat and tries to ask Fokir what the checked... (full context)
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Piya's bedroom was the big one with a view of Puget Sound. After five years, Piya's... (full context)
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...prepare a meal from his catch of crabs. Though she knows he'll offer her food, Piya decides she won't eat it—she's had bad experiences in the past eating local cuisine, and... (full context)
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...dinner, Fokir unrolls two sleeping mats in the middle of the boat and motions for Piya to take one. She unrolls her own mat in the very front of the boat,... (full context)
Part 1: Stirrings
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Piya wakes late at night and realizes the sound that woke her is the sound of... (full context)
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When Piya wakes up again, the boat is already moving through thick fog. She can barely see,... (full context)
Part 1: An Epiphany
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In the rising tide of the afternoon, Piya starts seeing less of the dolphins. She wonders if the dolphins weren't migrating, as she... (full context)
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Piya thinks about the unique water quality of the Sundarbans: the mix of salt and freshwater... (full context)
Part 1: Crabs
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The dolphins begin to disperse around midday. Piya takes up her place in the front of the boat to watch the water while... (full context)
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Piya decides to map the riverbed in the hopes of discovering an underwater pool where the... (full context)
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...line in a straight line. They retrace their course, pulling the line back in, and Piya realizes the line is meant to catch crabs. As they continue, Piya discovers she was... (full context)
Part 1: Garjontola
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...the final run of the depth soundings, Fokir's boat enters the shallows near the shore. Piya puts down her binoculars and studies the shore. She notices bits of brick and points... (full context)
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Fokir leads Piya out of the mud to the forest, cutting through the brush with a machete. He... (full context)
Part 1: Listening
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Piya wakes from a doze to a loud booming sound. She makes her way to Fokir... (full context)
Part 1: A Hunt
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The dolphins stay in the Garjontola pool until midmorning the next day and then vanish. Piya tries to ask Fokir where the dolphins go when they leave, and he eagerly starts... (full context)
Part 1: Pursued
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As Fokir struggles to keep the boat steady in the fast-moving water, Piya decides to check the water's depth. As she puts her hand into the water to... (full context)
Part 2: Landfall
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Fokir struggles to row against the current and finally, Piya motions and asks if he has another set of oars. He pulls a set out... (full context)
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Piya yells for Fokir and an old woman comes out of the house. Piya hastily introduces... (full context)
Part 2: Catching Up
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After showering, Piya collapses into a chair. She suddenly remembers the crocodiles that morning and feels the sense... (full context)
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...is a truly remarkable woman: she's struggled to educate herself and is becoming a nurse. Piya thinks Kanai must find her soft and spoiled in comparison. He explains that Moyna and... (full context)
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Kanai begins to dish up the food, but Piya only accepts white rice. Kanai talks about Lusibari and its history during dinner. He tries... (full context)
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...literature at some point, he likes running an office, having money, and meeting interesting women. Piya doesn't quite know what to do with his comment about meeting women and escapes upstairs. (full context)
Part 2: Negotiations
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Moyna is waiting outside her home when Kanai and Piya arrive in the morning. Piya asks after Tutul, who is in school, and Fokir, who... (full context)
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Piya asks Kanai if he could pull Fokir into the conversation. Kanai's attempt doesn't go over... (full context)
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Kanai tells Piya that Moyna wants to know why a scientist like her needs Fokir's help. Piya is... (full context)
Part 2: A Sunset
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As the sun begins to set, Piya goes up to the study and knocks on the door. Kanai comes out to watch... (full context)
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Piya notes that she and Fokir both grew up without mothers. Piya’s mother died of cancer... (full context)
Part 2: A Pilgrimage
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Piya is touched when Moyna brings her dinner that's plain. When Kanai asks about dolphins, Piya... (full context)
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Kanai feels tender towards Piya and asks if he can accompany her as a translator. She's not convinced it's a... (full context)
Part 2: The Megha
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...each other, and Horen gestures to his grandson, Nogen, who will accompany them. Horen leads Piya to the bhotbhoti, which is called the Megha. Horen extols the boat's virtues and reliability.... (full context)
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Kanai goes to Nilima and tells her that he's going away with Piya. He promises to keep Nirmal's notebook safe and explains that they'll be going into the... (full context)
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...insists he has an actual reason to go, but when Nilima realizes he's interested in Piya, she bitterly accuses him of being a predator worse than a tiger. She tells him... (full context)
Part 2: Intermediaries
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Piya finishes her preparations just after dark and decides to go to bed before dinner. She... (full context)
Part 2: Words
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...clean up, Moyna says she's glad that Kanai is going on the expedition so that Piya and Fokir won't be alone. She asks Kanai to talk to Fokir about Piya, and... (full context)
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...does this with every woman he meets. As she leaves, she wishes him luck with Piya. (full context)
Part 2: Leaving Lusibari
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Kanai and Piya take their bags down to the embankment on a rickshaw, but are held up when... (full context)
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...away a little later, towing Fokir in his boat behind. Kanai sits on deck, watching Piya watch the water despite the wind and blinding glare. They sight a Gangetic dolphin around... (full context)
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Envious, Kanai notes that Fokir and Piya can't even talk to each other, and he reminds Piya flatly that there's nothing in... (full context)
Part 2: An Interruption
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...years later. An hour later, the engine of the Megha dies. Kanai tells a disappointed Piya that Horen plans to float on the currents to a nearby village where someone can... (full context)
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As night falls, Piya and Kanai hear the sound of an animal in pain on the shore. Kanai asks... (full context)
Part 2: A Post Office on Sunday
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Piya wakes up around midnight and goes on deck, where she finds Kanai still reading. She... (full context)
Part 2: A Killing
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...Nogen on deck, looking towards shore. They can see what looks like flames. Horen, Kanai, Piya, and Fokir decide to go ashore and see what's going on. The voices sound angrier... (full context)
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...killed two people in the village, Horen says, and is now vulnerable in the structure. Piya is shocked to learn that there's a tiger in the structure and decides they need... (full context)
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Piya grabs a man's spear and breaks it in two, and the man falls silent in... (full context)
Part 2: Interrogations
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Horen, Fokir, Kanai, and Piya make it back to the Megha by dawn and start off immediately—Horen doesn't want to... (full context)
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An hour later, a boat of forest guards pulls up by the Megha. Kanai sends Piya to her cabin for safety, as she's foreign and doesn't have the correct permit. Piya... (full context)
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At midday, Piya sits next to Kanai, looking troubled. She explains that she's still horrified by the tiger... (full context)
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Piya insists it's important to preserve animals in their natural habitats, as deciding it's fine to... (full context)
Part 2: Mr. Sloane
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The Megha reaches Garjontola late in the afternoon. Kanai, Piya, and Fokir take Fokir's boat closer. Piya is delighted to see the mother and calf... (full context)
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Piya was then invited to survey Orcaella along the Mekong. She's been studying Orcaella ever since.... (full context)
Part 2: Kratie
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...the tide rises, the dolphins leave the pool and Fokir rows back to the Megha. Piya showers and then sits by the rail to watch the landscape. Kanai joins her, and... (full context)
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Rath took Piya to the airport for a conference in Hong Kong, and they emailed daily for several... (full context)
Part 2: Signs
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Kanai has nightmares all night. At dawn, Piya approaches him and asks if he'd be willing to help her keep watch for when... (full context)
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...Megha, Kanai sees mirages in the water of Fokir boarding a plane for Seattle with Piya and feels very unsettled. Suddenly, as the boat passes close to Garjontola, Fokir stands and... (full context)
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Slowly, Kanai backs into the mangroves and then crashes back out to the mud. Piya, Fokir, and Horen run to him and haul him into the boat. He babbles about... (full context)
Part 2: Lights
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That evening, Piya goes to the rail and sees flashing lights in the mangroves. She races to knock... (full context)
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Haltingly, Kanai invites Piya to visit him in New Delhi after her survey ends. Piya finds Kanai's tone unsettling;... (full context)
Part 2: A Search
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In the morning, the fog is so thick that Piya nearly trips over Kanai. He's busy writing something for Piya, so Piya makes preparations to... (full context)
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Piya finds the quiet and the familiarity of Fokir's boat comforting. She asks him for another... (full context)
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...until tomorrow, so they have time to go back to Garjontola to find Fokir and Piya. (full context)
Part 2: Casualties
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As the tide starts to turn, Piya spots several dolphins close to shore, twelve miles southeast of Garjontola. She wonders if this... (full context)
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...to India. As Horen and Kanai reenter the Garjontola pool, it's clear that Fokir and Piya aren't there. (full context)
Part 2: A Gift
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By sunset, Piya checks her GPS and sees they're about seven miles from Garjontola. She figures that Horen... (full context)
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Piya and Fokir sit unmoving for a while. Finally, he takes her hand for a moment... (full context)
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When Piya finishes reading, Fokir joins her in the middle of the boat. She touches him and... (full context)
Part 2: Fresh Water and Salt
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...smile that Fokir just might not want to come back. Horen suggests that Fokir and Piya are in love. Noticing Kanai's surprised reaction, Horen asks if Kanai thinks that someone like... (full context)
Part 2: Horizons
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Piya wakes in the morning and sits in the boat, listening to the water. She hears... (full context)
Part 2: Losses
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When Piya and Fokir set off at 5:30 in the morning, the going is easy. The currents... (full context)
Part 2: Going Ashore
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Fokir manages to steer his boat into the mangroves, and Piya helps him lodge it between trees. Fokir pulls out the sari, rolls it into a... (full context)
Part 2: The Wave
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As the wind's intensity increases, the flying objects grow larger. Piya sees an entire clump of mangroves and the shrine to Bon Bibi flying through the... (full context)
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...Once upstairs, the wind seems quieter. Kanai explains that he and Horen had to leave Piya and Fokir outside, and admits that he lost the notebook. (full context)
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As the eye of the storm hits Garjotola, Piya looks around. Fokir stands and appears to be searching for another branch to move to.... (full context)
Part 2: The Day After
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...realize there's only one person in the boat. Moyna watches, transfixed, as they realize it's Piya. Moyna sits and begins to break her marital bangles, making herself bleed. Horen and Kanai... (full context)
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...cremated that evening. He's one of only a few casualties. Over the next few days, Piya stays with Moyna and Tutul. As Piya holds Tutul, she thinks of the impact that... (full context)
Home: An Epilogue
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...Nilima sits at her desk when a nurse races in to say that she saw Piya come off the last ferry. Piya had left Lusibari two weeks ago, and Nilima didn't... (full context)
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Piya knocks on Nilima's office and explains that she's been at her aunt's house at Kolkata,... (full context)
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Piya asks if she could rent the guesthouse and set up an office upstairs. Indulgently, Nilima... (full context)
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...ponders this and then declares it will be a fitting memorial to Fokir. She invites Piya to have a cup of tea, and Piya asks about Kanai. Nilima explains that Kanai... (full context)