The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide Summary and Analysis of Chapters 57-60: Lights through A Gift


In the evening, Piya sees the lights of glowworms in the mangroves and goes to tell Kanai about them. She’s surprised to find him wearing a lungi, an Indian garment very different from his typical style. The two go to watch the glow worms, and Kanai tells Piya that he’s leaving the next day to return to New Delhi. Kanai also tells her that he’s sure Fokir didn’t abandon him on the island out of malice. Then, Kanai invites Piya to visit him in New Delhi later, sounding less confident than usual, and says he would like her to see him in a place where he’s comfortable. Piya, however, responds that she’s not the right woman for him. Kanai accepts Piya’s statement, saying that he can’t articulate exactly what he’s thinking, like how Moyna can’t say exactly how she feels about Fokir. He mentions that Moyna is afraid that Fokir is in love with Piya, which annoys Piya, and Piya refuses to tell Kanai whether or not she has feelings for Fokir.

In the morning, Kanai is busy writing. Piya plans to spend the day with Fokir following the dolphins while Horen takes Kanai back to Lusibari. Then, Kanai gives Piya a manila envelope. On Fokir’s boat, Piya feels calm and happy, glad to be in what’s now a familiar environment. She helps him row, and they eventually stop and watch for dolphins. Piya takes a GPS reading, then waits for a few hours, but there are no dolphins. Fokir seems confused and begins rowing again as Piya tracks their route on the GPS. Meanwhile, on the Megha, Kanai and Horen are surprised not to see any boats until they come to a large channel, where there are suddenly many boats, all going towards the shore. Horen speaks to some fishermen, he warns that there’s a storm coming, maybe even a cyclone. Because the storm won’t arrive until the next day, they have time to find Fokir and Piya and warn them. By the early afternoon, they’ve reached the island. Kanai, who’s worried about Piya, notices that the low tide is unusually low, but though dolphins usually swim in the pool during low tide, none are there, which alarms him. Horen, however, isn’t concerned. Kanai wants to look for Fokir’s boat, and Horen agrees.

Piya sees several dolphins close to the shore, and wonders if she’s discovered a new pod. But when she and Fokir get closer, she notices that the calf is dead, its body in the mud, and realizes that the dolphins want to stay until the water washes the body away. She takes measurements and samples of the body, then pushes it into the water. Through pantomime, Fokir tells Piya that the calf was likely hit by a Forest Department boat, which he says happens often.

Meanwhile, Horen is sick of the search after hours, and is convinced he and Kanai have to turn back. Kanai asks what the cyclone will be like, since Horen lived through one in 1970. Horen says he was out at sea at the time, and only survived because he and his uncle were able to tie themselves to a tree with their scarves. When the storm cleared, Horen found out that they’d ended up 30 miles away in Bangladesh and had to sneak back to India. Horen and Kanai return to the Garjontola pool, but Fokir and Piya are nowhere to be found.

Piya checks her GPS around sunset and realizes she and Fokir are around seven miles from Garjontola. Since they don’t know about the upcoming storm, they decide to stop for the night. When the moon rises, Fokir points out a moon rainbow. Piya wonders if Fokir understands the inspiration he’s given her, and if she’d be able to give him a relationship close to the one he has with Moyna. After they’ve sat for a while, Fokir holds Piya’s hand for a moment, then leaves to make dinner. After dinner, Piya reads Kanai’s letter. He writes that he is wrestling with the question of what it means for a man to give a woman something only she can value. He adds that he learned about wanting to make someone happy at the cost of his own happiness. He also admits that he lied about not being able to translate Fokir’s chant and reveals that it was part of the legend of Bon Bibi. He retells this story to Piya. When Piya finishes reading the letter, Fokir joins her, and she asks him to sing for her. She then reads the final page of the letter, which contains a Rilke quote.


The sheer amount of ships going inland is a reminder of the danger that the natural world holds as the cyclone approaches. The vulnerability of people in the Sundarbans is reinforced through the natural signal of the dolphins, who aren’t present at low tide as they usually are. Kanai noticing such a sign is unusual, considering his lack of connection to the natural world, and it indicates that he has grown as a person.

Kanai’s choice to translate the tale of Bon Bibi for Piya, which he had formerly refused to do, is another indicator that he has grown and transformed throughout the course of the novel.

Fokir’s suspicion that the dead calf was hit by a forest department boat again emphasizes the useless-at-best and potentially harmful tendencies of the forest department, who have already harassed him and Piya and downplayed the danger of the tigers. Even though the forest department is tasked with protecting wildlife, it seems to be just as ineffective in doing this as it is when it comes to protecting people. The harm that the forest department causes suggests that while conservation may be a noble goal, there are better ways to pursue it than through government bureaucracy.

Horen and his uncle using the gamchha to protect themselves again reinforces the power the gamchha has to connect and protect people.