“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”

Frank McCourt,

The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter is the story of a girl born in a financially weaker family named Shilpa Anthony Raj. It shows her ordeals of rising from the stature of a Dalit village girl to a topper in liberal arts stream in her higher studies. And of the people who helped her grooming into one. The main emphasis, to an extent, is on how the residential school SHANTI BHAWAN is changing lives of poor children. They are working for children of AIDS patients and rape victims and even abandoned orphans and are making an attempt to bring an acceptable change to their ill fate.

Shilpa goes on to explain their love, grooming, teaching, and selfless services. It’s an honorary institution and they work for the uplifting of poor children. They take to their institution one child per family and educate them. Not only that.. they are given a nutritional diet, proper vaccination and Nice clothes to wear and comfortable bed to sleep. Their books and notebooks are also taken care of by the institution. So, this apart, what else you will find in the book? Well, that’s just about the institution and the good deeds by those who are working there. The main story of the memoir The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter will make you question the status quo that we are somehow maintaining in our society.

The story begins in present showing the younger sister of Shilpa (the protagonist) dead in mysterious circumstances. The whole family is grieved by the loss. And from there, the story goes into a flashback. A four-year-old girl Shilpa belongs to a family of Dalits. One day, one priest from France comes and makes a stone church in the wild area and starts preaching Christianity. So much had the people suffered at the hands of the upper class that they underwent a mass conversion to Christianity and heaved a sigh of relief that their daughters are safe. So, the story of the book will take you on a much-needed retrospection. The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter might be a book by a certain author, however, it does not limit itself to that attribution. This becomes the tool for each individual belonging to the Dalit community in India to raise their voices – they also belong to the same society we live in and they do have some rights!

Shilpa’s growing up and the lives of few of her friends also find places in this book. Her mother who goes to some foreign land and returns better mannered and her father who has various extra marital affairs are also mentioned in detail. She also gives a detailed account of prostitution practised in her village even by 10-year-olds willingly. She gives her own instances related to the same and her liaisons with her maternal uncle. The book ends with her sister dying in a suspicious way on account of these activities with no discoveries made.

So, the book will be offering you various aspects to be read, thought and thought again. The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter is not only an honest memoir but also an attack on the foul practices that we continue every day in our otherwise civilised society. It takes up the issues of class difference as well as, at various instances, the issue related to feminism. Shilpa Raj’s launch to the world of writing could never be more successful than this and I am sure her work will be read by many people. For that, you can order the book on Amazon before it is officially released on coming 28 this month. Just go to the link below and find yourself something good to read this week:


“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”

Mahatma Gandhi


Article by – Nidhi Sharma

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