In Hanuman's Hands
A MemoirBook - 2009
"I can do nothing more for you. You are now in Hanuman's hands." These are the words author Cheeni Rao hears his Indian immigrant mother sob as he stands locked outside his family home. A brilliant, promising young man who is the product of a devout Hindu family from a long line of Brahmin priests, Rao has been reduced to the life of a homeless drug addict and petty criminal on the back streets of Chicago's Southside.
The freedoms and temptations of life on an elite American college campus send Rao spiraling down into a hedonistic nightmare of drugs, sex, and crime. Desperate and alone, he is visited by Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god his mother evoked, and comes to realize that this unlikely guide may be his last resort. On his long journey to recovery, Rao is guided by visions of this clever, divine monkey, best known from the Indian epic poem, the Ramayana.
In Hanuman's Hands is a gritty, hauntingly beautiful memoir. Bringing India whole-heartedly into America, Rao weaves his own story of Western culture clash with mythic tales of his Hindu ancestors who served in the ancestral temples of Kali. With Hanuman as his loyal companion, the author finds his way back to recovery at a halfway house run by a mug named Tats and shared by an unforgettable gang of streetwise characters. In Hanuman's Hands is a striking debut from a new literary voice.