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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sneaky-Peeky Sunday: Such A Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry


As part of the Sneaky-Peeky Sunday, an initiative of The Book Worm, here's a peek into the book I am currently reading: Such A Long Journey by author Rohinton Mistry.

'...the extent of his frustrations, for the wall was dear to him.
Years ago, when Major Bilimoria had first moved to Khodabad Building, when the water supply was generous and the milk from Parsi Dairy was both creamy and affordable, there had been a surge of construciton activity everywhere in the city. The neighbourhood of Khodabad Building was not spared either, and tall structures began going up around it. The first to be blotted out was the setting sun - an office building was erected on the west side. Although it was only six stories, that was enough, for Khodabad Building was but three, being short and wide: ten flats in a row, stacked three high, with five entrances and stairways for each adjacent set of flats.
Shortly afterwards, construction started to the east as well. It was clear to all thirty tenants that an era had ended. Fortunately, the work dragged on for over ten years because of cement shortages, labour problems, lack of equipment and, once, the collapse of an entire wing due to adulterated cement, resulting in the deaths of seven workers. Youngsters from Khodabad Building went to the construction site to gaze in awe at the dark blotch on the ground and wondered if that was the spot where the seven had perished, where their lifeblood had oozed out. The delays provided respite for Khodabad Building, and in time there grew a gradual acceptance of the altered landscape.
With the increase in traffic and population, the black stone wall became more important than ever. It was the sole provider of privacy, especially for Jimmy and Gustad when they did their kustis at dawn. Over six feet high, the wall ran the length of the compound, sheltering them from non-Parsi eyes while they prayed with the glow spreading in the east.
But to hell with privacy, to hell with the wall, to hell with the stink, said Gustad. Tubes of Odomos were purchased, and the ointment rubbed on all exposed parts, though the mosquitoes continued to buzz and sting and madden. For some reason, the ointment worked efficaciously for him. Half the night he spent scratching and swatting and cursing.
To take his mind off it, Dilnavaz told him about a childhood neighbour who was immune to mosquitoes. 'It's a true story,' she said. 'When he was a little boy, this man ate lots of mosquitoes. Purposely or by mistake, it is not sure. You know how children put........'

- Debolina Raja Gupta