The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide


Amitav Ghosh

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The Hungry Tide: Part 2: Storms Summary & Analysis

Nirmal's writing picks up after his retirement. One day, Horen brings Kusum to Lusibari to speak with Nilima and ask for help. Nirmal says it won't do any good and Horen concurs. He leaves Fokir with Nirmal and then leaves. Nirmal takes the wide-eyed Fokir out, points to the mohona, and asks what Fokir sees. He says he sees the bãdh. Nirmal promises Fokir a story for every repair he can see in the embankment. He proceeds to explain why certain families don't live in certain places anymore, how contractors stole money, and how others used the bãdh to settle scores with each other.
Through Nirmal's stories, the bãdh becomes a way for him to trace human history on Lusibari. This shows another way that the natural world and the manmade world collide and work together, as the repairs are overwhelmingly carried out on places where the natural world began to eat away at the bãdh.
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He tells Fokir that before the bãdh was fully constructed, people lived in fear of the rising tide and the storms. He mentions the worst storm of all, in 1737, which coincided with an earthquake. It even killed people in Calcutta. One French ship was driven onto shore, and a crocodile took up residence inside. Fokir looks apprehensive and asks if it could happen again. Nirmal says that it will absolutely happen again and when it does, the bãdh will fall. Nirmal leads Fokir to the bãdh and instructs him to listen at the wall. They can hear the scratching of crabs inside, and Nirmal explains they're in cahoots with the tides to bring down the bãdh.
This event suggests that there may be more to Fokir's job as a crab fisherman in the present, as it's possible to read his job as a way for him to help support the health and welfare of the bãdh. In this way, the novel suggests that Fokir is more connected (or at least more respectful) of the manmade world than Moyna and Kanai have thus far let on. Nirmal, however, shows here that it's futile for humans to expect to come out on top every time.
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