About The Story The material conditions of Indian life mean that there is in our literature a current that deals almost entirely not with man’s ability to shape the world but rather his quest merely to gratify his shrieking and demanding body. In this story by Kshitiz Tirkey, we see a desperate teenager in a drought-stricken village less as a social animal—though the boy is that too—but as a beast, completely a prisoner of the hunger and thirst that assail his body and derange his mind.
Tirkey does not name his protagonist: the universe of the story is so elemental, and the passing of the hours in it so full of challenges, that identities are almost irrelevant. The focus on the main character’s bodily wants is so intense that we are both fascinated and appalled. On the scales of this universe, death is as welcome as life, and there is something heroic about the independent boy’s desire to work the plough on land that has just tasted water for the first time in years.
The Independent Boy