Canada Reads·Canadian

The Song of Kahunsha

Anosh Irani's novel tells the story of a 10-year-old boy who leaves a Bombay orphanage to find his long lost father.

Anosh Irani

This powerful tale of struggle, desperation and hope is set at a time of racial strife in India. Ten-year-old Chamdi leaves the Bombay orphanage where he has grown up and goes in search of his long-lost father. Life among the homeless on the streets is harsh, and when the city erupts in violence, Chamdi is caught in the midst of a volatile situation.

The Song of Kahunsha was a contender for Canada Reads 2007, when it was defended by Donna Morrissey.

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From the book

Chamdi runs his hands across his ribs.

He tries to push his ribs in, but it is of no use. They continue to stick out of his white vest. Perhaps it is because he is only ten years old. When he grows older, he will have more flesh on his body and his ribs will be less visible. With this thought, he walks down the steps of the orphanage.

He stands barefoot in the courtyard. He never wears slippers because he likes to feel hot earth against his feet. It is early January, and the rains are still far away. Even though a new year has begun, the earth looks old, the cracks in its skin deeper than ever. The sun hits Chamdi's black hair and forces him to squint.

He stretches his arms out and walks towards a wall, where his world ends and someone else's begins. As he nears the wall, he hears the city — faraway car horns, the hum of scooters and motorcycles. He knows Bombay is much louder than this, but the courtyard is not near the main road. Beyond the wall is a small marketplace where women sell fish and vegetables from cane baskets and men squat on their haunches and clean people's ears for a few rupees.

From The Song of Kahunsha by Anosh Irani ©2006. Published by Doubleday Canada.

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