Thursday, October 31, 2013

Farewell October


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.  



10 comments:

  1. My dear Suman
    Nice post!
    Thank you for sharing :
    Street sceneries of India
    Your love for books and Jhumpa Lahiri

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    1. Dear Celine, I'm glad I'm able to do this for you. Knowing well your love for this country, it is an honour. Thanks for the appreciation.

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  2. Dear Suman

    Autumn in you beautiful country sounds idyllic. Good food and an excellent book.
    This is my type of read, I have noted the book and once I get a bit of time I shall order it.
    Thank you.
    Helen xx

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    1. Dear Helen,

      Thank you for the generous comment. Though it feels wonderful at this time of the year, I miss the leaves changing color. If it was up to me, I would assign the quintessential autumn as the only season on earth. :-)

      Have a wonderful week.

      Suman

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  3. I love your descriptions both of season and story- Thank you. Jane x

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    1. I'm glad you think so, Jane. Thank you.

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  4. She is an unknown author to me. You have made me curious to see if I can love her as much as you do. She shall go on my wishlist.

    Autumn is a good time, autumn dishes, early and late mists, steaming hot drinks and a shuffling walk through carpets of leaves, I shall enjoy myself.

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    1. Oh Friko, you MUST read her then and I'm sure you'll like her as much as I do. I suggest do begin with her first book 'Interpreter of Maladies', a collection of short stories.

      How much I miss all the autumn fun that you've so beautifully described... But I do live the season vicariously through your wonderful pictures. Thanks for spreading the joy.

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  5. Oh how lovely Suman :-) Already this novel has me emotional, and reading this post I have this strong urge to run back home, to walk through the dusty streets, dodge the mad traffic, by pass the lazy dog sleeping on the footpath, smile at the neighbour and ring the shrill bell of my home. I know in a few minutes either my father or my mother would lean out of the balcony to give me the key. I will enter the familiar dark passage, climb up the stairs, my parents would be in the landing, a ready welcoming smile on their face, I will take off my shoes, plop onto the waiting arm chair and talk to them. Ordinary every day things, how the bus driver was driving dangerously, how there was yet another rally in Gariahat mor, how fascinating Marx is on paper! Oh how I miss home!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Suchi.
      Whatever you have written makes me so, so nostalgic even though I can be home after a 2-hrs' flight. I can absolutely relate to the homesickness that you have so beautifully described; they remind me of the days when we lived in another continent and home meant everything that was unreachable and distant.

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