One of the most enjoyable quickies this year, Ranga Half-Pants is somewhat a personal account. A 14-year-old Ranganathan Srinivasan is yet to upgrade his uniform to full pants while all the other boys in his school have, and his half-pants have become quite a cause of embarrassment for him. No wonder he becomes a laughingstock, and bullies have a field day around him. He’s determined to get himself a pair of full-pants, with or without Appa’s contribution.
Add to this mix a typical classroom in an Andhra setting with the typical set of students- your best guy friend who moves on to become someone else’s bestie, your best ‘girl’ friend who you want to make your girlfriend, a rowdy fellow who never makes life easy for anyone, and a villainous sort who’s also a politician’s nephew.
Suman has put in words the nascent teenage innocence and vulnerability very well. The hesitance that somehow sprouts up when you have to go talk to a girl (it used to be a big thing in school), how for anything big or small you cajoled our mother to persuade your father, how in an attempt to enter manhood early you tried shaving your facial and body hair, and how proud one feels when one’s local hero accepts him in his circle.
The writing’s casual and organic and the narrative linear. Quick environment and tonal shifts, to-the-point sentences, and most importantly, the author never strays away from the plot. The Tamil-Brahmin quips are such joy to read! For those who enjoy a good English + vernacular mix read, heads up – there’s rich usage of Tamil and Telugu words in the dialogues and description.
Ranga- Half Pants is a coming-of-age account that’ll definitely be worth your time. Hope you root for this underdog as hard as I did.