The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide

by

Amitav Ghosh

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The Hungry Tide: Home: An Epilogue Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
A month after the cyclone, 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 expect to see her again. While Piya was still in the guesthouse, she was an unnerving presence and had made a strange friendship with Moyna. She'd even begun wearing Moyna's old saris, and the two women looked uncannily alike after Moyna cut her hair. Kanai had tried to talk Piya into going home, but she wouldn't budge. Kanai returned to New Delhi, and Piya left days later. Nilima didn't believe her when she said she'd be back.
Nilima's observations of the relationship between Piya and Moyna suggests that the two were bonded in part by Fokir's death and their relationships to him. Again, this reinforces that there are more modes of communication and forming relationships than just verbal communication; in this case, the two women are able to become close due to their shared experiences of loving the same person, albeit in different ways.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
Piya knocks on Nilima's office and explains that she's been at her aunt's house at Kolkata, writing letters about what happened during the cyclone. She started a chain letter to raise money, which raised enough to buy Moyna and Tutul a house and pay for Tutul's education. In addition, Piya says she wrote about her work with the dolphins and has had offers of funding. However, she wanted to talk to Nilima before accepting them, as she wants the Babadon Trust behind any project. Nilima perks up at the mention of funding.
Unlike Nirmal, Piya uses her experiences and her writing as forces for good and a catalyst to take action. This shows again what Nirmal may have been able to do had he been willing or able to actually publish his notebook and act on his ideas. Further, her mention that she wants the Babadon Trust's permission before beginning this project shows that she now recognizes the importance of working with local people instead of against them.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon
Piya asks if she could rent the guesthouse and set up an office upstairs. Indulgently, Nilima points out that Piya would need a staff, and Piya says she'd like to hire Moyna part-time. Nilima tries to think of anything that might complicate this. Piya explains that she's eligible for a visa that would allow her to stay indefinitely, and her uncle can deal with the rest. Nilima laughs and asks if Piya has a name for the project. Piya says she'd like to name it after Fokir, since his data is what will be the foundation of the project—her GPS is all that survived, and it recorded the route she took with Fokir. That route represents years of his observations of the dolphins.
By deciding to name the project after Fokir, the novel brings the idea of language back around to explore the importance and the power of written language. By naming the project after Fokir, it means that he and his work won't be forgotten, even though he himself was illiterate. It suggests that the written word can be a powerful way to remember people.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
Nilima quietly 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 is restructuring his business so he can take time off. He wants to live in Kolkata for a while so he can write Nirmal's notebook, and he's coming to visit in a few days. Piya smiles and says it'll be good to have Kanai home. Nilima is surprised to hear Piya refer to the guesthouse as home and asks about it. Piya explains that her home is where the Orcaella are, and Nilima laughs and says her home is wherever she can brew tea.
What Nilima has to say about Kanai suggests that after his experience on Lusibari, he's come to the understanding that he needs to reconnect with the people he loves and cares about in Lusibari. This shows that he's taken Fokir's lesson with the tiger to heart, and now sees these people as actual people worthy of consideration, respect, and love. By transcribing Nirmal's journal, Kanai will also memorialize Nirmal in the same way that Fokir will be through Piya’s project—again, showing the power of the written word to preserve someone’s life story and memories.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon
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