Under the Bakul Tree by Dr. Mrinal Kalita

Under the Bakul Tree by Dr. Mrinal Kalita
Under the Bakul Tree by Dr. Mrinal Kalita


When Ashim, the bright, cheerful class topper and the ‘jewel’ of Mahendra master, suddenly drops out of school, everyone is surprised. His classmate and academic rival, Nirmal, is deeply troubled by Ashim’s behaviour and decides to investigate.

As Nirmal discovers more about Ashim’s circumstances, a friendship as pure as the bakul flower blooms that stands its ground against the harsh realities of growing up in rural Assam.

A heartwarming coming-of-age tale, the book celebrates friendship, hope and determination as it unravels the devastating effects of poverty and of an education system that has failed the ones who need it the most―the misfits and outcasts.

Translated for the first time from the Assamese, Under the Bakul Tree is one of the finest young adult novels from India and is an invaluable addition to India’s rich literary landscape.

My Review:

“Under the Bakul Tree” by Dr. Mrinal Kalita captures the essence of rural Assam through the lens of friendship, hope, and the harsh realities of poverty. The author skillfully weaves a tale that delves into the struggles often overlooked in the lives of children, whether stemming from economic hardship or toxic familial environments.

Almost every student, whether in private or government schools, has faced insensitive and rude teachers. It is a serious issue and teachers must be trained to be more compassionate and encouraging instead of trying to mould students into a box of an ideal student. This book deals with exactly that. The author not only tells where the education system is going wrong but also tries to lead with a few examples of dealing with a few of such situations.

The author’s writing style is notable for its evocative use of metaphor and imagery, painting a vivid picture of rural life in Assam. However, at times, the narrative veers into preachiness, detracting slightly from the overall immersion in the story.

The characters are vividly portrayed, each contributing to the development of not just the story but also the other characters. From Ashim and Nirmal to the supporting cast, the author crafts individuals who feel authentic and relatable. The exploration of their motivations and actions reveals a depth that resonates with readers.

One of the book’s strengths lies in its refusal to villainize any character, instead presenting them as products of their circumstances. This nuanced approach adds layers of complexity to the narrative and fosters empathy for even the most flawed individuals.

The book offers valuable insights and tips for young readers navigating the challenges of adolescence and education. While the story addresses serious issues such as poverty and the failings of the education system, it does so with a message of resilience, determination, and encouragement.

“Under the Bakul Tree” is a compelling coming-of-age tale that sheds light on the struggles faced by students in India. The book’s memorable characters and poignant themes make it a recommended read for young adults.

Happy Reading!!