It is winter suddenly. The indifferent autumn air has given way to colder nights and desiccated days. Roadsides are dotted with carts of bhutta (roasted corn) sellers. The thin wisps of sooty smoke rising from a makeshift fire-pit clouding the vibrant yellow and green of the corn cobs. The domestic scenery includes bottles of thick shea-butter lotion, pairs of socks, and curls of steam rising from teacups. A sudden lull drapes the evenings, which come quite early now, and time appears to freeze after a point. It is that time of the year again when food and festivals surround you for a good three months, out of which a month ends today.
It is also the time when I enjoy my reading hours the most. Perhaps it's the quietude, perhaps it's the enveloping bubble of coziness. Once again I ended up being moved, almost driven to a state of emotional numbness by one of my most favourite authors, Jhumpa Lahiri. That there's no end to her brilliance, we all know, but her latest release, The Lowland is much more than just a novel. Interlacing history, both personal and political, and the much-explored themes of marriage and the parent-child relationship of her narratives, she builds the plot with a deftness that could only be hers. At once engaging and disturbing, it has moments that make you put down the book, sit back for a while and sometimes, suddenly burst into tears of surprise. There are lines in it which command that kind of an emotional commitment from the reader, that carve out a certain you. There are people in it who might be you or me, their defeat ours. There's a remarkable shift in Lahiri's prose - no more the lyrical, graceful style; this time she keeps it crisp and very much to-the-point, and perhaps that is why it hits you harder.
Writing this post immediately after an hour of having finished reading the book, leaves me somewhat rattled. May be I'll attempt a coherent evaluation sometime else. Today I just want to remain lost in those windy, deserted beaches of Rhode Island and dwell upon the unintrusive, lifelong love that a father nurtures for his daughter. That and the newness that the change of season has ushered in.