- Essay: How is Mumbai presented through the perspective of Abdul, Asha and Sunil?
My essay will be about the three perspectives of three less fortunate people in modern India. These three characters are Asha, Abdul and Sunil. All three characters live in an Annawadian slum. All of them make money in various different ways. Asha, Abdul and Sunil all have different jobs, this is why they all have different perspectives. Abdul and Sunil are both young and friends, they both are involved in some sort of scavenging where garbage is stolen and sold to sell for a profit as some materials may be worth a lot. Asha, however, is a grown adult with children and is a potential slum-lord in Mumbai. Asha makes money from fraud. We the reader can see similarities in the characters as every character is responsible for providing for their families. They may be described as ‘breadwinners’. In this essay I will write about all three characters perspectives of their views on Annawadi, Mumbai.
Abdul’s family is one of few Muslim families in the community. This makes Abdul’s family outcasts to Hindu society in India. This can be seen when “strapping boys began playing cricket on the maidan, aiming their drives at Abdul’s sorted piles, and sometimes his head” Here we see Hindu boys gang up on Abdul violently due to his belief. The word ‘drive’ shows that the Hindu boys show bad intentions when hitting the ball. This clearly shows the friction between the Hindus and Muslims in the Mumbai slum. Hindus dislike Abdul for his ‘unclean’ earnings as he makes money through the garbage industry. People of Annawadi see Abdul’s earnings unclean as he is Muslim and they don’t respect that religion. They also despise the fact his family are one of the more wealthier families in the slum despite being Muslim. We see this when Katherine Boo tells us that ‘another year’ brought ‘more of a home to live in’. The house now has ‘scraps of aluminium’ which made the house one of the ‘sturdiest dwellings in the row’. This quotation clearly indicates how the money earned improved the state of where he lives, however, those around him don’t have the same privilege.
Asha’s family is one of three, she has a son: Rahul and a daughter Manju. Asha is a single mother who provides very well for herself and her two children. She is a Hindu living in the slum and is one of the more stable families in Annawadi. She makes money doing fraud and also teaching. She is aware of the big money investments opposite the slum, seeing new skyscrapers overlooking the airport from the run down slum. She describes what she thinks about this to her two children: “Corruption it is all corruption” The repetition of the word corruption is key here, as it emphasizes Asha’s perspective on corruption in Mumbai. She clearly feels like something could be done to help the less fortunate that live in the slum, as India is one of the most economic thriving countries in the world.
Sunil’s perspectives are similar to Abdul’s as they are involved in the same business in terms of money making; they are both involved in the garbage industry and are both breadwinners for their families. Sunil is determined to make money and help his family ensure there is food on the table daily. Boo shows us his determination: “To jumpstart his system he would have to become a better scavenger.” Here the word ‘jumpstart’ suggests that Sunil is like a machine, designed solely for scavenging. This suggests Sunil’s life is repetitive; machines are built to do the same things over and over again.
Abdul isn’t a nosy neighbour, he goes about his business and keeps himself to himself, despite the Hindu boys bothering him. Abdul’s thoughts are the ‘better I know you, the more you will dislike me. So let us keep to ourselves’. This shows that Abdul isn’t troublesome and tries to just do his job. We see how Abdul is focused and does not intend to make friends, but do what is required to help him and his family.
Despite having thoughts of the country being corrupt, Asha thinks there is a brighter side to her that can see the ‘obvious truth that Mumbai was a hive of hope and ambition’. This metaphor shows that all the bees in the hive (humans in Mumbai) all have to produce honey no matter what. In Asha’s case, her honey is money. This shows that she knows anything can happen despite coming from a rough place. Asha sees and takes the opportunities given to her, although her circumstances are not the greatest. The description of Mumbai being a hive is also important as it shows Mumbai as a dense place where there is not much space. A beehive is small and not spacious so when Boo describes Mumbai as a hive she is comparing the slum to a place with no space. Previously we are told the slum is small as in the opening paragraph when the slum is described as ‘bitty’.
In conclusion, all three characters have similar perspectives but different lifestyles. We see that all three characters are hardworking and are the breadwinners for their families. All three characters have big ambitions due to their circumstances. The fact they have less opportunity probably drives them to make something better of their life making money than just complaining about the slum. All three see the slum as a place they can make money regardless of the lack of jobs available. I believe all three aspire to get out of the slum once they make enough money.