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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
In A Cobra's Bite Doesn't Hurt by Anil Nijhawan, one of its most memorable themes is that its main character, Kalu, narrates his story and records it for the prime minister of India to let him know of his sad plight and of others like him. He has a steady job as a pickpocket but is one day kidnapped by a crime syndicate that forces him to work for them as a pickpocket. Babu, the crime leader, murders Kalu’s best friend, Ramesh, and informs him that Ramesh has run away and cannot be found. But Kalu knows better and decides to flee for his own safety. He finds refuge in the love of a woman named Tanya while Babu is still tracking him.
As a pickpocket, Kalu is a well-defined character judging from the evocative images that Anil Nijhawan provides. We know Kalu to be a man who must use a great deal of stealth in slipping his hand in bags and pockets to make a living, a sort of rape of the personal belongings of others. Kalu is almost thoughtful and philosophical in telling his sad tale. It could have been purely melodramatic but Anil Nijhawan supplements it with enough physical action, most notably at the end. In this story, you may sense the pulsing vein of such stories as Crime and Punishment and Oliver Twist. Kalu is a victim of circumstances beyond his control, and he survives by taking advantage of the skill he wields that operates outside of what is deemed moral. There is an incredible passion in the writing of A Cobra’s Bite Doesn’t Hurt, complemented by tension and romance. It is written with a certain gravity and honesty about a man in a dire situation, and you will want to know what happens to him.