“Song of the Cuckoo Bird” by Amulaya Malladi.
I loved this book! I have read two other books by Amulaya Mulladi and loved them too, but this one was my favorite. Song of the Cuckoo Bird tells the story of a young girl, Kokila, who is an orphan that lives at an ashram called Tella Meda near the Bay of Bengal in India. She has been sent there to wait until she is ready to be with the man she married at the age of 11 after the death of her father. She was taken in by her late father’s friend Ramanandam Sastri who lived at the ashram.
When the time comes for Kokila to leave Tella Meda for her husband’s home she makes a youthful decision to stay at the ashram and her life is changed forever. The book takes you through all the lives that intersect in and around the ashram and what a wonderful journey.
In one branch on the journey Kokila takes a job working at a leprosy clinic run by a young doctor not much older than her:
“……Shankar was doing what he set out to do. No matter how ugly the job, how tainted his reputation, anyhow isolated his life because of his chosen profession, he was still doing it, everyday.
“How do your parents feel about this?” Kokila asked.
“Shankar smiled broadly and a dimple appeared on his left cheek. He was a personable young man, just a few years older than Kokila. She realized that Ramanandam was right in wondering if she was attracted to him because she knew she could be. If she worked with him every day and every day they had lunch like this, wouldn’t she feel something stir in her heart? Wasn’t there already a stirring? His goodness was not a facade, and that to Kokila was his most attractive quality”
“Sometime in the future I would like to get married, but I have no plans right now. ” Shankar said. “So, do you want to see what curds looks like under the microscope?”
It looked like several thousand living worms were wriggling against each other.
“Oh,” Kokila said weakly. “I’m never going to eat curds again”
Her first day at work had been agonizing, fun, informative, and blissfully tiring. When she came back to Tella Meda, Renuka stood guard outside.
“You will have to stay in your room” Renuka announced as soon as Kokila opened the gate that led into the front garden of Tella Meda. “Subhadra will bring you food but you will have to eat it by yourself and wash your plate separately and keep it in your room. You –“”
There are so many interesting stories at Tella Meda you are sure to find at least a couple of them to love.
A favorite writer and a book I will read again.