19 December 2007

Babyji

I have been reading Abha Dawesar's Babyji. What is so wonderful about it is the nonchalant manner in which it questions deeply entrenched notions about sex, sexuality and morality typical to an urban Indian middle class. It is provoking as it brings out in the open things propriety would dictate taboo. In short, I love it! And yes, there are several things I find problematic in the novel, but 'morality' has nothing to do with it. Maybe I'll write down those issues later. For now - some excerpts:

"In the Delhi I grew up in, everything happened. Married women fell in love with pubescent girls, boys climbed up sewage pipes to consort with their neighbors' wives, and students went down on their science teachers in the lab. But no one ever talked about it." ***

"Science had told us this century that nothing was certain. The universe was chaotic and relative; these aspects measurable. There were few hard facts on which one could base a way of living one's life. I'd always scoffed at religion as a crutch for the masses, so it wasn't even a consideration. We'd spent two thousand years only to find out that we didn't know. That moment, sprawled on my bed, changed my whole life. I was free all of a sudden. Free of the burden of knowledge and therefore of any morality that proceeds from knowledge. Only feelings counted. And sensations." ***

"Everyone was complacent and measured success and failure by the same yardsticks- car, house, electronic goods. Jhuggi [slum] people like Rani thought that a government job was the epitome of power and that a government servant was a very big sahib. She wouldn't understand why I adored writers and scientists, intellectuals who could only be measured by the volume of gray matter in their brains. She probably didn't even know what writers and scientists were. If you didn't have any education, could you know how knowledge itself was classified? But she did know what a doctor was. Almost everyone knew what a doctor was."

2 comments:

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the heads-up. This is definitely going on my reading list. That first excerpt reminds me of a comment one woman made about the untouchable/Brahmin romance in Roy's Small Things. It could never happen, anywhere at anytime, don't you know...

metaphysicallycomplicit said...

I'm yet to read Arundhati Roy. But yeah, I can see what you're getting at..."It could never happen"...only it does! More than people think.