Guilty of the crime of sleeping on the job, the lowly yaksha Prem Chandra Guha, is banished to India on a punishment posting. During his stay here, he must write a sufficiently riveting history of the land of his exile. Prem Chandra arrives in India on the first dawn of her independence and fate brings him to Netarhat, an obscure town near the forests of Chhota Nagpur. It is here that he meets Manhoos, an orphaned urchin who repairs motor vehicles for a living, and his friend Mary, a feisty tribal girl from the nearby Santhal village. Assuming the shape of a common sparrow, Prem Chandra turns into an unobtrusive observer and follows the fortunes of Manhoos and Mary as they travel to Calcutta, and then to Rishikesh, Bangalore, Ahmedabad? As they plunge from one adventure to another, a series of figures play key roles in their lives: the Naxal leader Charu Majumdar; Satyajit Ray, in his crisp dhoti and clipped accent; the ever-giggling Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; the powerful business magnate, Ameer Premji; and even a mysterious man with a 56-inch chest. On the broader canvas of India, other events are playing out. Indira Gandhi declares an Emergency; a new party, the Jana Sangh is formed; Siddhartha Shankar Ray cleanses West Bengal of Naxalism and Jyoti Basu brings in thirty years of Communism; somewhere, a dam is built, and hundreds of tribals are rendered homeless, elsewhere, a masjid falls, a deadly virus rises and the ground of India shakes beneath her feet? Song of the Golden Sparrow is the story of Manhoos and Mary, and mirrored in their tumultuous lives, is the history of free India from 1947 to 2022.
Song of The Golden Sparrow : A Novel History of Free India