To grow up
A story that floats between two worlds with Maya trying to find who she really is.
`I am Nowhere Girl in my Nowhere Land between Canada and India,' says Mayasri Mukherjee.
This is a line from the second chapter of the book that pretty much sums up what Maya Running is all about. It's a book that deals with the world of an adolescent, and all the problems and confusions that come with being that age.
Maya Running is full of observations that are incredibly mature and adult-like and then suddenly heart-warmingly childish, and often hilarious. Maya's world is witty, wonderful, confusing and comical. She's a teenager born in India and brought up in Canada, the only non-white in her school. She's got to handle a bully who calls her a "nigger" and a teacher who's constantly telling her to live up to her "Full Potential". In between, she finds time to speak to the spirits with her friends, Psycho and Sally, using an Ouija board and fall in love with Jamie Klassen, the 14-going-on-18 cool dude of their middle school.
Pinky takes over
She's pretty lonely too because her mother has gone back to college, her dad's an eccentric genius "with Einstein eyes" and the family is planning to move away from the Canada she loves to California, where her mum is to take a teaching job. As if life isn't complex enough, Maya's cousin, Pinky arrives from Calcutta wafting sandalwood fragrance and tossing gorgeous black tresses. And suddenly, Maya finds herself looking like a "skinny kid with braces and two zits on her nose".
And as the story floats between two worlds of growing up and staying young, of India and Canada, of reality and seeming reality Maya begins to understand who she is.
It's a story of adolescent troubles of feeling insecure, apprehensive and totally confused. But Maya's problems are complicated by feelings of rootlessness and cultural identity. She's torn between two countries, two cultures between the snow and the prairies of Canada and the scent of "spices and mangoes, the scent of the ages, of my ancestors" that come in airmail envelopes from India. It's a story that looks at the immigrant issues of identity and belonging, and acceptance from a teenager's point of view though it's a diasporic tale, the emotions and situations are easy to relate to and the process of looking within to find oneself is always endearing.
Maya Running by Anjali Banerjee, A Puffin Book, Rs. 250.
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