The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide Summary and Analysis of Chapters 61-64: Fresh Water and Salt through Going Ashore


That night, Kanai can barely sleep. In the morning, he wakes up and asks Horen if there’s enough light for Fokir to travel by, but Horen says he might not want to come back, hinting that Fokir and Piya are in love. He mentions that Nirmal was completely in love with Kusum but wouldn't admit it. Horen explains that he’s about five years older than Kusum, and that he comforted her when her father was killed. Later, he took her to Canning to meet her mother and offered to leave his wife for her, but she turned him down. Though both he and Nirmal had feelings for Kusum, she ultimately chose Horen, and they had sex on his boat on the last night.

In the morning, Piya discovers a pod of dolphins nearby, but can tell that they aren’t behaving as they usually do. She remembers a Swiss scientist who had captured two of the dolphins in the 1970s and brought them to Switzerland, where he realized they behave abnormally in inclement weather. Piya also notices that the sky looks strange and realizes that a storm is coming, which she yells to Fokir. Meanwhile, Horen points to the sky and tells Kanai they can only wait for around half an hour before they must head back to Lusibari to arrive in time. He explains that there’s no shelter on the nearby island, and that it will likely flood. He tries to comfort Kanai, emphasizing that Fokir knows what to do.

Early in the morning, Piya and Fokir begin to leave. The weather is nice at first, and Piya expects the journey to Garjontola to only take a few hours. But soon, the weather changes and the boat slows, and the waves grow larger. When one particularly big wave passes, Piya’s backpack almost falls out of the boat, and Fokir helps her tie it down. Piya thinks that she may have cell service, but she can’t think of who she would call. Finally, the two reach Garjontola, but the Megha isn’t there. Suddenly, the wind tears off the boat’s roof and Piya’s backpack with it.

Meanwhile, Kanai sees that the water seems to glow as the boat gets closer to Lusibari. He and Nogen bail out water from the ship, and after a while, Nogen points out Lusibari’s shore. Kanai goes back upstairs, and Horen gives him a plastic bag for Nirmal’s notebook, telling him that he’ll have to wade to shore. He also tells Kanai to assure Moyna that they’ll return for Fokir once the storm dies down. Kanai climbs off the boat, then turns to look back at it. As he does, the wind knocks him into the water. He gets back up, but the notebook is swept away by the water.

Fokir steers the boat into the mangroves, and he and Piya secure it between trees. Then, Fokir takes out the sari and rolls it up and tells Piya to tie it around herself. They use the fishing line to tie the boat to the trees, and then climb an especially long tree and secure themselves with the sari.

Kanai approaches the island’s main area, where he can see people going towards the hospital’s cyclone shelter. He sees Tutul and asks about Moyna, who shows up suddenly. Kanai assures her that Fokir will be all right and that they’ll return for him as soon as possible. Then, he goes to the guesthouse to find Nilima.


Kusum choosing Horen over Nirmal indicates that Piya may make the same choice of Fokir over Kanai, given the similarities in their relationships—both Nirmal and Kanai are wealthier men from cities, while Horen and Fokir are fishermen. The fact that Horen’s love for Kusum was more long-lasting also illuminates the limits of Nirmal’s feelings for Kusum, which he used to rejuvenate himself and his ideals, perhaps without fully seeing Kusum as a person, just as Kanai has viewed Piya in a limited manner for much of the novel.

Piya figuring out that a storm is coming through observing the dolphins rather than Fokir discovering the inclement weather himself through his connection with nature shows the strength of Piya’s scientific knowledge. Though much of the novel stresses the importance of experience over formal education, this moment is an interesting counterpoint. Yet the quickness of the storm, especially after the journey back to Lusibari begins well, shows that even scientific knowledge can have a limited effect in the face of the power of nature.

Kanai having to wade through the water to get to shore as the passengers do when he first arrives to see Nilima shows the breakdown of the methods that humans have used to control and separate themselves from nature. Despite his higher status, Kanai is reduced to this same wading.

Fokir’s decision to tie himself and Piya to a tree is a representation of his reliance on nature. In contrast, the cyclone shelter reflects human ingenuity and is the rare product of Nirmal’s practicality, which was usually subsumed by his love for theory.