Set in the historic BDD chawls in Mumbai, a society that has been the epicenter for violence and fights for recognition, ‘Black River Run’ is the story of Bhuva.
A taxi driver by profession, Bhuva moves between two worlds- the ‘eye’ nation, that constitutes the English speaking elite of Mumbai and the ‘ear’ nation, mostly made of people who speak the rest of the languages, struggling to be at par with the brutality of life, the ultimate goal being survival.
But it is not only Bhuva that has your attention in this book. There are characters from different echelons of the society, characters that have a story you will want to know. As the story progresses, Bhuva-the hero of the chawl gets entangled in a murder mystery, that tests the loyalty of the people living in this iconic chawl.
Bhuva, a Dalit taxi driver is also a reader of Dashbodh- written by Saint Samantha Ramdas, and recites or takes inspiration from its lines from time to time. The book is divided into short chapters, moving between multiple characters the book holds. Khalap’s writing can not be described as flowery yet there is a certain spiritual feel to it, the works giving out more than the traditional meaning.
More than the story, it is Bhuva and his engagement with people, his actions and beliefs that attract a reader’s attention. The sheer number of characters can be overwhelming at first, but the story comes together gracefully.
‘Black River Run’ is about Mumbai chawls and the violence that lies underneath. We get see the life in this place, different from what we privileged souls are used to, but very grounded and honest.
Blurb (as on Goodreads):
‘Black river’ refers to the tar roads that connect the rich India with the poor India. The protagonist, Buva, a taxi driver who transports passengers between these two Indias, lives in the famous Bombay BDD chawl, is influenced by Swami Samarth Ramdas—probably the only human being representing evolution at all three levels: body, mind and spirit. Buva attempts to live like him, but his passengers and his neighbours create circumstances that trap him into a web of death and deceit, murder and riots.
*Thank you to the publisher for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own*