‘Violence silences people. The story of Cheeni Baba fascinated me because he had actually been silent, a deserter from the Chinese army hiding out in a banyan tree in Kushinagar for years. So many of us are rendered silent and don’t even know it’
Uday Prakash, acknowledged master of the Hindi short story has been, in recent years, working on his much-awaited first novel. Cheeni Baba, based on a series of real-life events, tells the story of a teenager who was drafted into the Chinese army during World War II. Shocked by all that he saw, he ran away and ended up in a village in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh. Still traumatised, he climbed a tree and stayed there. The villagers were at first astonished but then came to accept him as a Baba. And then, one day, the Chinese premier came calling.
(Forthcoming, Penguin India, 2008)
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 12, Dated Mar 29, 2008
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