The In-Between World of Vikram Lall
Vikram Lall comes of age in 1950s Kenya, at the same time that the colony is struggling towards independence. Against the unsettling backdrop of Mau Mau violence, Vic and his sister Deepa, the grandchildren of an Indian railroad worker, search for their place in a world sharply divided between Kenyans and the British. We follow Vic from a changing Africa in the fifties, to the hope of the sixties, and through the corruption and fear of the seventies and eighties. Hauntingly told in the voice of the now exiled Vic, The In-Between World of Vikram Lall is an acute and bittersweet novel of identity and family, of lost love and abiding friendship, and of the insidious legacy of the British Empire.
he had no marriage; his mother wanted him to punish Deepa, in the old-fashioned way, to beat her. At least one slap, like a man, she screamed at him, bring her to heel! Mother was understandably distraught. She went to speak with Deepa in the shop when Meena Auntie by prior arrangement had slipped away to the bank. Why throw away everything, Deepa? There are ways of behaviour for a woman. This is not it, talking to a man intimately—where is our lajj, our dignity in that? Mother, I only spoke
was accorded royal treatment and presented with a gold watch and a gold chain. It took some struggle to maintain my independence from their well-meaning but grasping intentions. I also met with old classmates from the Duke of Gloucester School, during a very nostalgic evening that turned emotional and tearful, as the drinks began to have effect. Kenya was in their hearts, they would never become British. And yet, even as this was evident in their nostalgia and their tears, they found it odd, and
their heads and shoulders covered with sack-masks to hide their identities, were brought over by the policemen to pick out their oath-givers. Mwangi’s number seemed up when one of these witnesses coughed and hesitated momentarily in front of him. Subsequent to this, Mwangi was beaten mercilessly until he was almost senseless. He was taken to a hut by Boniface and two others and tortured. As a last resort they dunked his head repeatedly in a bucket of water, for over an hour until he thought he
few nights here, she says, until I am mobile. Of all my characters she likes Mahesh Uncle best, he is her hero. But she once said of him: How typically Punjabi! Fight first, ask questions later! She is intrigued by his relationship with his father, my Grandfather Verma the police inspector, whom I had once overheard my uncle describe to my mother as a “traitor.” She says there is information she could access through the Internet about the role of the Indian police in India’s long independence
that I shall see her on Tuesday at the gate of her school. And that I care very much for her…nothing has changed. Don’t do anything risky, Njo. I can explain to her what you tell me; I’ll tell her everything’s all right. Just tell her, Vic, that I’ll see her Tuesday in Nairobi outside her school. Please. On Tuesday at lunch hour he was waiting for her at the gate of her school. She saw him, tall and lean and black, wearing a white shirt, and gave a shrill cry and flew toward him like a