New Delhi, Feb 27 (PTI) Deepa Anappara uses her journalistic background to weave a story about life in India's slums, the struggle of dwellers and their aspirations with a special focus on children going missing from there, in her debut novel.
Nine-year-old Jai, who is the protagonist in Anappara's 'Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line', lives in a slum in an unnamed Indian city with his parents and sister Runu.
Though the family struggles to meet their ends, a television is the best thing, according to Jai, that they own.
His favourite shows on television are the ones that his mother says he is not old enough to watch, like 'Police Patrol' and 'Live Crime'.
Jai watches too many reality cop shows, thinks he's smarter than his friend Pari (even though she always gets top marks) and considers himself to be a better boss than Faiz (even though Faiz is the one with a job).
When a boy at school goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from episodes of 'Police Patrol' to find him. With Pari and Faiz by his side, Jai ventures into some of the most dangerous parts of the sprawling Indian city; the bazaar at night, and even the railway station at the end of the Purple Line.
But kids continue to vanish, and the trio must confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force and soul-snatching djinns in order to uncover the truth.
As the disappearances edge ever closer to home, the lives of Jai and his friends are never the same again.
Drawing on real incidents and a spate of disappearances in metropolitan India, 'Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line' captures the warmth, resilience and bravery that can emerge in times of trouble.
Anappara says the children in 'Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line', published in India by Penguin Random House India under the Hamish Hamilton imprint, are composites of the children she had interviewed while working as a reporter.
'Many of them were in vulnerable situations because of poverty, or because of being displaced by religious violence. They were also often funny and sarcastic, traits I didn't convey in my news reports, but I hope are captured in the characters in my novel,' she says. PTI ZMN RB RB