Sea of Poppies Characters

Sea of Poppies Character List


The main protagonist of the story, Deeti is a young woman of an upper caste, who lives in a village about 400 miles from the sea. She is married to Hukam Singh, an Opium addict, who was wounded in battle. She has a daughter named Kabutri, who was actually fathered by her brother in law Chandan Singh. When Hukam dies, she decides to commit sati on his funeral pyre, rather than marry Chandan. She is rescued by Kalua, an untouchable whom she once saved. Together with Kalua she leaves her village for Calcuttta. She boards the Ibis, along with Kalua, to become an indentured laborer in Mauritius.

Hukam Singh

Hukam, the husband of Deeti, is a cripple who was wounded in battle. He is an opium addict working in the Ghazipur Opium Factory. When Hukam dies, Deeti plans to commits sati in his funeral pyre, to avoid marriage with Chandan.

Chandan Singh

Chandan is the brother of Hukam Singh. He raped Deeti along with his mother as an accomplice, on the day of her marriage to Hukam. He is the father of Kabutri, Deeti’s daughter.


Kalua is an Untouchable. He takes Hukam to the factory in his cart each day, and he is the one who brings back Hukam’s body when he dies. He is a strong wrestler. He is rescued by Deeti from humiliation by some high caste Thakurs. In turn, he saves her from the funeral pyre of her husband. Together with Deeti, he leaves for Calcutta and then boards the Ibis to go to Mauritius.

Zachary Reid

Zachary Reid is the son of a white father and a quadroon mother. He joins the Ibis as the ship’s carpenter, to escape racism. He soon rises to the post of a captain when all the original crew die, with the help of Serang Ali and other lascars. He is given the post of a second mate in the second voyage of the Ibis.

Neel Ratan Halder

He is an Indian Raja whose family has been ruling the province of Rakshali for generations. His father was a lavish man, and that along with the losses incurred in the opium trade with China leaves him huge debts. He approaches Burnham to sell off his properties to settle his debts, but Burnham asks for the Rakshali province to settle all his debts. When Neel Halder refuses, Burnham and his friends have him tried in court for forgery, and is sentenced for seven years in Mauritius.

Benjamin Burnham

Burnham is an unscrupulous trader and an evangelist who buys the Ibis, causing the fateful first journey of the Ibis from Baltimore to Calcutta, after which the ship is refitted. He has no issues about using opium for the sake of religion and vice versa. He and his wife raise Paulette when she is orphaned. When Neel Halder approaches him to sell his properties, he asks for his zamindary. When Halder refuses, he falsely accuses him of forgery.

Paulette Lambourn

She is a French orphan who grew up in India with her Ayah (nurse) and her ayah’s son Jodu. Her mother had passed away in childbirth and her father had been a political radical. She is taken in by the Burnhams, who try to teach her the English ways, but she feels more at home with Indian lifestyle and clothes. On being pressured by Burnham to marry Justice Kendalbushe, she flees and boards the Ibis in disguise as a niece of one of Burnham’s employees.

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