The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide


Amitav Ghosh

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The Hungry Tide: Part 1: Lusibari Summary & Analysis

When Kanai and Nilima arrive in Lusibari, it's low tide. Kanai climbs to the top of the bãdh and looks down at the village and the rivers surrounding it. Five waterways join to form an immense mohona on one side. The Trust boat docked at a mud spit on one end of the island, near the village of Lusibari. Surrounding a square, there's a school, a marketplace, and a compound. The building in the compound is raised up on stilts, and when Kanai notices that Nilima is distracted, he goes to inspect the house. He remembers it from his first visit.
The stilts under the building are meant to protect it from being blown away during a cyclone, while the bãdh (the high, mud and silt embankment) protects the island of Lusibari from the high tide. Both of these manmade structures show how people in the Sundarbans attempt to protect themselves and their livelihoods from the unpredictable natural world.
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Kanai walks around to the back door, which leads into a bathroom. He remembers his offense when Nirmal had explained what the bathtub was as though Kanai had never seen one before. He continues into the house's interior and stops in front of a portrait of a young woman. Nirmal had said that she was Lucy Hamilton, the woman that the island is named after. She died on the journey to Lusibari and now, the house is known as the Hamilton House. Upon explaining this, Nirmal had told Kanai to listen closely to the story of Sir Daniel Hamilton.
Nirmal's stories, like his constant quoting of the Duino Elegies, are a way for him to add deeper meaning to everyday life. For Kanai, he's better able to understand life on the island and why it is the way it is after listening to Nirmal's stories, once again emphasizing the value he places on the spoken word.
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