Andamans Boy, is a fast-paced, and action-packed, passage-of-youth story.
After his parents pass away in a car accident, Arif finds himself under the guardianship of his mercenary uncle and aunt . Unable to bear their oppressive behaviour, he runs away from home and boards a train to Chennai. His luck betrays him as he is identified at Chennai station because of a ‘Missing Boy’ poster. To avoid being indentified, he shaves off his hair, drapes a lungi - a loin cloth, feigns a limp, and to provide the finishing touch, changes his name from Arif to Ram. Chanting, ‘Om Ganesaya Namaha’, he wily-nily reaches Wandoor Island in the Andamans, and with a quirk of fate lands up tending crocodiles for a living!
Since, Arif’s inheritance is estimated to be immense, his relatives were not going to give up on him easily.When Arif finds out that they were hot on his trail, he joins Aung Thwin, a Myanmarese fisherman heading home in his boat. Arif disembarks on a boot-shaped island where he has an incidental encounter with Eetha Aleho, a young Jarawa boy. The two boys become friends and slowly Arif finds being accepted in the tribe.
Through his experiences with theJarawa, we get an insight into their traditions, customs, food habits and integrity. Their deep knowledge and respect for the environment and wise usage of its resources force the reader to re-think about the concepts of ‘civilization’ and ‘development’. One also learns about the challenges and threats that they face - in the guise of development and conniving officials.
Illustrations by Ashok Rajagopalan and line drawings by Indraneil Das bring alive the narration. But, however, through it all one wonders if and how, any city bred, ten year old child, could survive through all those challenges.