In the able hands of Ranjit Lal, the grim and sordid subject of female infanticide is dealt with amazing sensitivity. A story that could have been dark and gloomy actually becomes light and effervescent.
When the protagonist, Gurmi goes to stay in the family ancestral home, he discovers the family’s best-kept secret – the reason behind the Diwanchand family being ‘blessed’ only with boys. In a well, tucked away in a remote corner of the property, he sees faces in the deep waters - the ghosts of his sisters and cousins. Soon however, the girls emerge to fill his life with their chitter-chatter and fun loving ways. They are very much like any girl of today. They love to dress, cook, read books, and are quite savy with the computer, using it to create a virtual world in which the entire family lives happily together.
The story ends with an interesting twist to the tale. Considering that even in this day and age, female infanticide is rampant in India, this book conveys a powerful and effective message - albeit in a velvet glove.
Kudos to Ranjit Lal and to Puffin Books for this thought-provoking book for children.
Faces in the Water has won the Vodafone Crossword Award for the year 2010 in the juvenile fiction section.