52 pages 1 hour read

Supriya Kelkar


Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2017

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Chapters 16-21

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 16 Summary

Anjali gets used to cleaning the outhouse and teaching the Dalits, even making friends. Her classmates, however, start avoiding her. One afternoon, she invites two girls, each of whom has a relative in the freedom movement, to join her in the basti. She’s surprised when Anasuya doesn’t want to come, wondering why her father wouldn’t have taught her about “the vision of the future of India without people being considered Untouchable” (143).

Baba is waiting as they leave the school, and Anjali and Irfaan tell him about their classmates not wanting to come. He relates it to a story in which Emperor Akbar tries to prove to Birbal that his subjects are loyal, asking each to bring him a pitcher of milk so that he can take a bath in milk. Because milk is expensive, one decides to bring a pitcher of water, thinking he’ll be the only one, so Akbar won’t realize. However, everyone else has the same idea, so Akbar has a bath of water. Baba compares it to how everyone must pitch in to see the Dalits as more than “Untouchables.”

That day, at the basti, Anjali is playing gilli and accidentally throws it out of the basti and into a vegetable vendor’s cart.