The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide Summary and Analysis of Chapters 25-28: A Disturbance through A Hunt


That night, Kanai is in Nirmal’s study when the generator loses power and the lights go out. He walks out onto the roof, looking at the moonlight, and Moyna appears and asks if he heard a sound. Just as she asks, he hears a loud noise and a cacophony of dogs barking. He realizes it’s a tiger, but unlike Piya, he knows not to say the word out loud due to superstition. Moyna is anxious because Fokir still hasn’t returned, and the tiger might put him in danger. Kanai tries to reassure Moyna that Fokir knows how to take care of himself, but Moyna responds that Fokir is careless.

Joking, Kanai asks if Moyna knew Fokir before they married, given their disputes. She says that she did, but that Kanai wouldn’t understand why she married him. Kanai protests, saying that he knows five languages and has traveled all over the world, but Moyna says that he couldn’t understand since he’s not a woman.

Piya awakens from a nap to hear a loud noise, likely the tiger Kanai had just heard. She tries to ask Fokir what the sound was, but he only gestures vaguely. Piya wonders about Fokir’s life—if he knew his wife before they married, and how many siblings he has. Piya then returns to her bed and listens to the dolphins, thinking of how they use sound to understand their surroundings and communicate, a far more advanced method than her rudimentary communication with Fokir.

When Nirmal is at Kumirmari, he hears about Morichjhãpi. People are afraid that the conflict between the refugees and the government will worsen, but Nirmal tries not to think about it. He and Horen begin to return to Lusibari, but a sudden storm forces them to stop at the nearest island, Morichjhãpi. They ask the owner of the nearest house, a young woman, for help, and she recognizes Nirmal, though he doesn’t realize at first that she is Kusum. Nirmal and Horen enter, and the group discusses Kusum’s son, Fokir, and Horen’s children. Then, Nirmal asks Kusum to explain how she ended up on the island. Kusum’s mother had been living in a town called Dhanbad, so Kusum traveled to meet her there. At a train station, she met a man, Rajen, who had been disabled after a bus accident and invited Kusum to stay with him, then helped her find her mother. When Kusum finally reunited with her mother, her mother was thin and seemed unhealthy. She told Kusum to visit only once more. When Kusum and Rajen returned for their final visit, Rajen suggested that he and Kusum get married in order to care for Kusum’s mother, and Kusum happily agreed. A few months later, her mother died. Three years after Fokir was born, Rajen died falling from a train. Soon after, Kusum heard of a march to the east, which came through Dhanbad, and Kusum took in a few marching women. They told Kusum about the terrible settlement they’d lived in and their plans to go to Morichjhãpi, and Kusum went with them.

The dolphins stay nearby in the pool until the middle of the next day, then leave. Piya tries to ask Fokir where the dolphins are going, and he steers the boat to follow them. On the way, he points out crocodiles, and then Tutul points to the dolphins catching fish. Piya remembers seeing dolphins fish with fishermen, which had amazed her.


Kanai’s understanding that he should not utter the word “tiger” aloud due to superstition shows that though he and Piya are both outsiders to the Sundarbans, he has a better understanding of the local culture. This superior understanding may be in part due to his comprehension of the importance of language, which makes the word “tiger” hold the power that it does. The conflict between Kanai and Moyna is fundamentally about the differences between education and experience. To Kanai, a highly educated professional, the idea that he wouldn't be able to understand why Moyna would marry Fokir is absurd. But to Moyna, Kanai can never understand why she made the decision she did because he hasn’t experienced her life as a poor woman in the tide country. This dichotomy can also be seen in Piya’s education about dolphins and marine life and Fokir’s practical knowledge and experience with them.

Piya’s thoughts about the inadequacies of human communication compared to dolphins’ echolocation demonstrate that she has learned to value nonverbal communication through her time with Fokir and has begun to see some of the ways in which verbal communication can be lacking.

Coming to Morichjhãpi is a life-changing moment for both Horen and Nirmal, but it happens incidentally, due only to a storm. The fact that this storm has such a major impact on the two men’s lives emphasizes the power that the natural world has in the Sundarbans.

Piya’s recollection of the dolphins and fishermen fishing together shows that harmony between humanity and the natural world can indeed exist. This moment thus stands out, given that much of the novel is about the seeming irreconcilability of this conflict.