Book Review: Chaddi Buddies
Set in the tiny village of Golvada in Thane, Oswald Pereira’s Chaddi Buddies is a sweet story revolving around the protagonist Robert’s transition from a meek boy to a strong young man. The book is essentially a tale of four friends who grow up together and whose bond undergoes a huge change with coming of age. At the start of the story we see a sensitive and intelligent boy who is very clumsy. He lacks speed and the street smart attitude of the other kids who ridicule him at every opportunity. Even his elder brother Victor bullies him. Instead of standing by his side and helping him become a strong person, his brother nicknames him Pondya—a feeble, weak person.
Robert’s only solace is Hill Mansion, a ramshackle hut on the top of a hill, where he is more at ease than in his own modern home, happy to be in the company of his dearest friends Anand and Baloo and his hero, their elder brother Dattya. These three are the children of Robert’s domestic help. This little fact bears no relevance to the friendship that blossom between the four children. Their love and support do wonders for his deflated ego and self-esteem. Dattya mentors and trains Robert to regain confidence and strength to fight the ridicule of his peers and his elder brother Victor. They provide him the necessary courage to live and fight, bestowing on him the pet name Samson.
What I liked about the book? Honestly, there’s nothing that one wouldn’t not like in this story.
In the story Mr. Pereira talks of a time when materialism hadn’t tapped into our very psyches and drained us of humility. It was a time when class-consciousness hadn’t permeated the playgrounds, when we played out in the fields with everyone and anyone and especially when material possessions did not define our choice of playmates or playtime. Those were intoxicating days when after school hours children tossed aside their school bags and dived into the fields with enthusiasm to enjoy in the lap of nature without a care in the world. There were no videogames, mobiles or other gadgets to interfere with the innocence of childhood. Reading Chaddi Buddies was like walking down memory lane. It rekindled memories of long lost friendships forged on playgrounds that weren’t important enough to maintain but surely valuable enough to be cherished after decades.
The easy to read narrative adds to the liking quotient. The smooth and flowing style can immediately capture the reader’s attention. The characters are well described. There is enough humour – rightly used to shape the events. It is rare to find a touching book with such innocence and inspiration when all that seems to sell these days is glamour and crime. The book leaves an indelible imprint. After reading Chaddi Buddies I have accomplished that YA books need not always have teenagers running around saving the world with or without magic. Sometimes all it takes is a linear plot to make you fall in love with a book. Good work indeed Mr. Pereira. A little advice – next time get a book cover that justifies the brilliance of your story.
For me it was an excellent read that I would highly recommend.
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