The Hero’s Walk
by Anita Rau Badami
The Hero’s Walk, written by acclaimed author Anita Rau Badami, is a tale that touches on the theme of anger, loss, and redemption. This book outlines the everyday tragedies that regular people face, and how they overcome these tragedies. This is the story of the heroism of ordinary people.
Sripathi Rao, the principal character of this tale, is a middle-aged man living in Tortupuram, India. Sripathi is one day woken up to a call telling him that his daughter—who he had banished for bringing shame to the family because she broke off her engagement and married a white man—had died along with her husband in a car crash. His daughter, Maya, had made him the guardian of her daughter, Nandana (Sripathi’s granddaughter) and he was to fly to Vancouver immediately to pick her up.
This book is about the regret that Sripathi has faces due to banishing his daughter and the manner in which he deals with the regret and sorrow. Anita Rau Badami takes the reader on a ride by showing the different stages of “upset” Sripathi goes through. Starting with his inability to accept what has occurred and ending with acceptance and understanding that he now has a second chance, to make amends with himself and be there for Nandana, in the manner in which he was not there for Maya.
Alongside Sripathi, there are several other characters within the story that act as an “assistant” to show us why Sripathi behaves a certain way or is changing his behavior. Sripathi’s mother shows us why Sripathi cares about what society thinks (therefore resulting in him banishing Maya). Ammaya, Sripathi’s mother, is a bitter-mouthed widow who was left by her husband for his mistress. Ever since Ammaya discovered that her husband had a mistress, she vowed herself to be the ideal wife in the eyes of society. Thus, from here Sripathi gets his views on being perfect in the eyes of society. Nirmala, Sripathi’s wife, acts as a counter to Ammaya. She is a supportive wife who is acts as a force of subtle change in Sripathi’s life. Arun, Sripathi’s son, is a force of modernity in Sripathi’s life. Through Arun, Sripathi understands the importance of fighting for what is relevant and important. Since Arun is an environmental activist, Sripathi sees in his son the need to stand up for what he cares about and not to be bound by societal pressures.
The Hero’s Walk highlights the small fights that Sripathi fights to help him become a better father for the sake of Maya and Nandana. The heroic fights of a middle-classed man. Anita Rau Badami does a wonderful job in showing us the different struggles of Sripathi and how he fights to become a better person. Despite this being a wonderful tale, what falls slightly short is the connection to Sripathi. There are times within the story where the reader simply asks, “what is the reason for this?” Sripathi is introduced to be a rude, snarky man. However, why he behaves this way is never explained or justified; thus due to such instances, there is a disconnect in how the reader is supposed to react to Sripathi. Additionally, Nandana plays a large role throughout most of the book, acting as a catalyst for Sripathi to consider changing, however towards the last portion of the book, there is no involvement of Nandana leaving the reader to scratch their heads asking, “where is Nandana?”
Despite some question marks, The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami is worth the read.