Book Review: A Cobra’s Bite Doesn’t Hurt by Anil Nijhawan

The first line of this book reads:

Your Highness Mr Narendra Modi,

The story: Kalu, kidnapped from an orphanage at the age of fourteen and trained to pick pockets, is forced into a gang of thieves in Bangalore. When Babu, their ruthless gang leader, murders his best friend Ramesh, Kalu – fearing for his own life – runs away to Kolkata. While still being pursued by Babu he meets and falls in love with Tanya, a stunning and gifted career girl from an upper middle-class family.

Sir, if you ever come across a cobra unexpectedly, my advice is not to stare directly into its eyes.

Oh, I love the ingenuity of this book!

Who would have thought that it’d be in the form of a letter and not just any letter but one addressed to the Prime Minister of India and from a Street Urchin nonetheless. I love Kalu’s honesty and what hurt me most as I read this was how he took me along those streets in India, the hopes of children, the hurt and betrayal they experience at the hands of adults, the corrupt police and I was even angered by how the depiction of politicians in this book rings true for most of those in my country, Kenya. Same goes for the police!

The mode of storytelling is refreshing, for Kalu uses an old Sanyo recorder to talk to the Prime Minister. He admits that having grown up an orphan, first in an orphanage and then in the streets, he never learned to read or write.

Kalu’s charming, naive, sarcastic, hopeful…nostalgic, a hopeless romantic and sometimes, in reading you cannot help but weep for the children out on the streets of India as he depicts them and the lies and neglect that led them there.

Modiji, my Sanyo voice recorder did not start this morning. I had to hammer it several times to wake it up. Hope it lasts to the end of my story. In Japan, they would have thrown it away by now. But, we Indians don’t discard anything easily; we know how to recycle.

Rating: yellow-star-mdyellow-star-mdyellow-star-mdyellow-star-mdyellow-star-md

Buy a copy at: Amazon

About the author:

Born into a Punjabi family, Anil Nijhawan’s early schooling was in Kolkata, at the infamous (people have contradictory opinions) South Point School. His teacher of English, the charismatic Mr Utpal Dutt, an actor and a scholar of Shakespeare and English literature, instilled in Anil the love of English language at a young age. Anil Nijhawan now lives in the UK with his wife Adarsh and a family of gold fish in the garden pond. His career has embraced working in the computing industry and running his own business.

Visit his site:

One thought on “Book Review: A Cobra’s Bite Doesn’t Hurt by Anil Nijhawan

  1. Congrats Anil, although I have not read your recent book, but its opening lines are invitingly interesting and compelling for one to grab the book and read on. I shall do that once difficult things of today normalise. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

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