Girl babies in the well

Girl babies in the well

Girl babies in the well

Well, on one side, the book IS like that, and on the other side, the book is so NOT like  Faces In The Waterthat.

You see, the book deals with female infanticide, or the selective killing of only girl babies. It is seen through the eyes of Gurmeet, or Gurmi, the 15 year old son of the 'prestigious' Diwanchand family in Delhi. So what was so 'prestigious' about them?

Well, it was the pride of the whole family that they have had only sons for however long the family has existed. Though the whole thing sounds very miraculous, saintly and 'meant-to-be', the Diwanchand family slate is not all that clean.

All the wives of the Diwanchand family are shifted to the Diwanchand ancestral home, away from Delhi, to deliver their children. They never go to a hospital. The babies are always delivered by the family gynaecologist, Surinder Aunty (a.k.a. The Warthog), in a makeshift 'Operation Theatre' in the attic of the ancestral mansion. So since no one from outside the family is involved, all the girl babies born are immediately lowered into a well in the mansion's grounds. All this to maintain the family's so called 'name'!

While Gurmi's house in Delhi is being renovated, he is sent to the ancestral home with two of the family's servants for company. His mother forbids him from going near the well, citing mysterious reasons like 'The well has a rusted grill, so you might fall in'.
But boys will be boys. As soon as his mother has dropped him at the mansion and left, he cons the servant and makes a beeline for the well.

As he touches the famous rusted grill, pieces of it fall into the well……onto the faces of three girls who are looking out at Gurmi from the bottom of the well - Mohini, Nandini, and Bishaka. His very own sisters. HIS sisters that his father and Surinder Aunty got rid of at birth. He soon discovers that he has cousin sisters too, four of them (and one of them, Lovleen, develops a crush on Gurmi).

As his house in Delhi is getting renovated, Gurmi grows to cherish the company of the girls that should have been in his family. Even though all the girls were lowered into the well as babies, they have somehow 'grown', in the well.

Mohini, the oldest of them all, has a fancy laptop that allows Gurmi to believe he is actually face to face with them…you see, they can't get out of the well. However, Gurmi discovers they are around him and he likes the feeling that he is not alone.
Even though he can't actually see them, if he takes a picture on his digital camera, they show up on screen! His cousin brothers come on a visit from Delhi, and Gurmi introduces them to THEIR sisters.

This world of 'sister spirits' is not exactly known to the adults of the family. But when Gurmi's parents come on a visit to the mansion, they can feel that the 'atmosphere' is different (in a good way) - the girls are responsible, of course!

Then Gurmi discovers the fact that his mum is going to deliver TWINS - girl twins. So what do you think happens? What are the Diwanchands going to do? Read the book to find out their fate…

I enjoyed the book and found it a gripping read. It screams out 'Girl babies are being killed!' on every page, and sends chills down your spine that parents can be so cruel. But at this stage, we need to know the facts. We need to know that in some parts of India, girls don't have much of a life.

Name of the book: Faces In The Water

Author: Ranjit Lal  
Publisher: Puffin
Price: Rs. 199/-
Age: I would recommend this book to kids aged 12 and above.

Ahalya Mandana
International School

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