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‘My name is Cinnamon’ by Vikash Prakash Joshi-Hay House Publishers, India

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ශ්‍රී LankaNZ is a free distributed Sri Lankan Community Newspaper that aims to reach a Sri Lankan population of over 18,000 all over New Zealand. The demand for entertainment in literacy media itself gave birth to ශ්‍රී LankaNZ

‘…the voices of his birth father and mother…for any person, these are the two most beautiful voices in the world.’

‘My name is Cinnamon’ is the story of Roshan Rishikesh Paranjape, a teenager, nicknamed Cinnamon. The plot is Roshan’s journey from Pune to Nandurbar to find his birth parents. There is another journey of his adoptive parents, to the same place but, with a different purpose.

The remark, that he is an adopted child, made by fellow students is the inciting incident for Roshan to trigger his inner conflict. He quarrels with his adoptive parents to go and find his birth parents. There is another reason, disclosed only at the climax of the plot by the author, for the adoptive parents to see the same people. 

Vikash Prakash Joshi, the author, takes the reader on a ride along a scenic drive giving enough signals for this reason. Two examples are, Cinnamon not seeing the moving ball

when playing and, Baba and Maa not giving him a bike as a birthday present. There is a clue here, but the author carefully leaves it at that for the reader to connect the incidents later. Suspense takes the story forward. Even Roshan’s birth mother does not know why his son is brought to see her, all unexpectedly, and she asks why. 

‘I had to give him a chance to hear the voices of his birth father and mother. For any person,

these are the two most beautiful voices in the world,’ Baba, the adoptive father answers. He comes out with the truth with a heavy heart. Roshan being diagnosed with type 3 of the User Syndrome is losing his hearing and eyesight.

The story ends with another cliff-hanger. No one informs Roshan of his sad fate. This

subtle ending, one always endorsed by Ernest Hemingway, leaves a vacuum for the

reader to fill up. When and how Cinnamon will come to know about this misfortune? Then what will be the impact on him? Can it ever be averted? 

The character development is very successful. The protagonist, Roshan is a sporty teenager

who hates maths. He is very playful but is diagnosed with Usher Syndrome. The

rebellious teen Roshan subsides his interest in a bike, but never gives up the adventure to see his birth parents. He cracks jokes with everybody, argues with girls, but weeps in his birth mother’s arms.

The adoptive parents are human beings. They love Roshan and are scared to lose him. They

want to take him to his mother before he loses his hearing. They fight with anyone insulting Roshan. Maa’s quietness on her way to Ratnapur in Nandurbar shows how heavy the burden she carries in her heart, knowing that Roshan would one day be an invalid.

The two sub-characters of Aditi and Devendra are built superbly. Aditi, with her all

messed up initial family life, is a very courageous rural woman shouldering a major

part of the family burden. Devendra, an IT professional, has given up his job for his love to the simple life in rural India. All characters live on the pages and take forward the story along the plotlines effortlessly. 

Vikas’s description brings the reader to the true rural India where the latter can sniff the oily sweets in Kolkata and feel the cool breeze in the paddy fields in Nandurbar. 

The note to the book says that the author was inspired to write the story by the information he received on Usher Syndrome. Selection of the subject is, as an author, is his concern towards those who suffer from fate in their lives. It is the love and sympathy for the vulnerable in society. 

Baba and Maa adopt a treasured boy, only to learn that he is going to be deaf and blind one

day. Aditi, the birth mother of Roshan sees her child after fourteen years, only to realise that she is going to be helpless if he goes invalid. This is the empathy the writer shows towards the characters.

Thus ‘My Name is Cinnamon’ is a beautifully crafted novella, with an interesting plot based on a more humane theme. The larger-than-life characters take the story forward keeping the reader in suspense. The empathy shown by the author towards the characters who grapple so hard with unavoidable eventualities in fate to face the truth in life deserves the readers’ appreciation.

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