The Sunlight Plane
Author: Damini Kane, Publisher: Authors Press , Price: INR 495-, pp 312, PB, Fiction
The Sunlight Plane
Author: Damini Kane, Publisher: Authors Press , Price: INR 495/-, pp – 312, PB, Fiction
Nine-year-old THARUSH lives in Reyna Heights, an upscale residential complex in Mumbai. Shy yet highly creative, he struggles in social situations and is often bullied. However, Tharush quickly befriends AAKASH, the nervous, motherless boy from the second floor who is new to the neighbourhood.
Aakash has unusual skills. He can pick locks, wrap his own schoolbooks in brown paper, and is careful with house keys. He’s also extremely creative, and finds Tharush’s flights of fancy delightful. But secretly, he is also covered in bruises.
Tharush’s father tells him about a plane called Solar Impulse 2. Tharush loves planes, but the Solar Impulse 2 isn’t like the toy fighter jets in his bedroom. This plane, his father says, runs on sunlight and is circumnavigating the planet. At first, Tharush doesn’t think much of it. But it is a theme he will return to many times over the years.
Aakash joins Tharush’s school and befriends ANDY, SIRAJ, and NIKITA, three of Tharush’s friends. Over time, Tharush wonders if his friend is getting abused. During a game of dodgeball in school, Aakash gets hurt, and after an angry conversation, tells Tharush the truth. His father is hurting him. He also swears Tharush to secrecy.
The days pass. Tharush struggles internally to keep Aakash’s secret. On Diwali, Aakash’s rich, unmarried aunt comes to visit from Delhi. She loves Aakash, but doesn’t know about the abuse. The same evening, one of the bullies, VIKRAM, throws a firecracker at Tharush. While he escapes relatively unhurt, it is the beginning of a toxic escalation of conflict.
Meanwhile, Aakash has started to learn how to play the guitar from TASLEEM DIDI, the owner of a music store. He has always loved music and takes to the instrument effortlessly. However, he is slowly becoming an angry, bitter person, and gets into fights with both Tharush and Siraj. Though he and Tharush become friends again, Aakash confides that he has been having suicidal thoughts.
Normalcy returns to their lives—as far as it can—until Vikram ambushes Tharush in the bathroom and uses a caste slur on him. Hurt and enraged, Tharush decides he’s going to get revenge. Aakash immediately decides to help, coming to his friend’s defence.
The plan is essentially to throw Vikram into the deep end of the swimming pool. Although manage to do this, the boys panic afterwards and feel extremely guilty. Tharush suddenly remembers the sunlight plane, Solar Impulse 2, and wonders if it could be a metaphor for them. This fragile plane circumnavigates the earth only to return to the same position it started at: but the point is, it’s trying. It’s trying so hard.
Tharush confesses his revenge to his parents, who go to the school to complain about the bullying. Vikram and his friends, meanwhile, have their own revenge planned and it’s a lot worse. They ambush Tharush and beat him unconscious.
As Tharush recovers, Aakash is coming around to the idea of telling someone about the abuse, so he can get help. However, before he can carry out his decision, his father drunkenly stabs him.
It takes a while for Aakash to recover. His aunt comes to Mumbai and makes arrangements for him to be moved to Delhi to live with her. Tharush (who at only twelve-years-old, feels like he has aged several decades) is left wondering what a sunlight plane does after it has completed its journey.
Damini Kane is a 23-year-old with a Masters’ degree in Migration Studies from University of Sussex. She has an undergraduate degree, and an undying love, for History. She has been coming up with stories since she was six, and would fill pages and pages of her school notebooks with scenes and drawings. Though she writes some poetry, her first love is prose fiction, the novel in particular.
Damini loves to write character-driven stories, and fantasy stories with a heavy focus on interpersonal conflicts.
Her first novel, The Sunlight Plane, was published in 2018. She is currently working on a fantasy fiction series heavily based on Indian history. Prior to The Sunlight Plane, she had written two other novels, but chose not to get them published.