Wednesday, February 26, 2003

A Pivotal Decision

In retrospect, even in retrospect, you wouldn't call it a pivotal decision. He'd just succumbed to his day-long craving for a little pau bhaji, and had decided to make the 20 minute detour to Honest Corner on his way home from work. It was really in the direction away from home, and he knew Ammi would be worried, but he really had to go. Plus, it'd been a few days since he'd met up with the gang.

When he did arrive, he thought Law Garden looked a little quiet for Law Garden. Was Chiti Chiti Bang Bang closed?! But he didn't give it much thought. He'd recognized the colors and combinations of the usual scooters and bikes. GDA 2353 was there. He tried to remember what it was he had to tell Yogesh. Something to do with the post-office, of course, but he couldn't remember what.

His pau bhaji was ready. He fumbled for change, left a little extra for Laxman, as he always did, and handed a two rupee note to the other kid and told him to go get him a cigarette. The kid eyed him weirdly for a moment, before running off. As he turned, he sensed Hiren behind him.

"Why the fuck are you here?" Hiren was red in the face, an angry-red, and Shafiq had never seen him that way in the ten years he'd known him. He knew something was very wrong. Already, instantaneously, his palms were sweaty, his knees weak, and under his sweater, he could feel the sweat trickling down from his armpits. The blood drained from his face, and he could feel it. It could only mean one thing. It had happened before.

"They killed a cow in Dariapur, chhutiya. Didn't you hear?"

Obviously, he hadn't. "Have the riots started?", he asked, and then realized what a stupid question that was. In anycase, Hiren wasn't bothering to reply. "Yogesh!" Shafiq could only stand mutely as the others slowly gathered around. Everyone had a POA, everyone had advice to give, and no one seemed to agree on anything.

"Don't gather around too closely. Don't draw attention."

"Get a press-pass for Shafiq, and let him head out right away."

"Are you nuts? Dariapur is already under curfew. Shoot-on-sight."

It slowly dawned on everybody, what had been quite apparent to Shafiq, that he wasn't going to be able to get home tonight, and he was badly in need of a "secure" location, a hiding-place. In the end, since Malaybhai had the only car (and pillion-riding was likely already illegal) it was agreed that he would offer Shafiq a roof for the night. The fact that Malaybhai lived in an upwardly-mobile Hindu-only colony, which was unlikely to want to have any Muslim-burnings, where back-yards didn't directly look into back-yards, and neighbors wouldn't know there was an extra person of the wrong faith in the house next door, put a little color back in Shafiq's face.

And so he lived. As did his family. But the others were not so fortunate.

On "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas"

Written in the second person. The author is simply the narrator, not a character in the story. The author addresses the reader as "you", for example, "...I fear that Omelas so far strikes some of you as goody-goody." The effect is that of being transported into the midst of things in Omelas, having a tour guide take you around town, and then actually making the visit to the "cell" where "it" lives in all its misery and horror, in person. The author wants the reader to be present on location, as an active participant, not just a neutral observer, because the awfulness of the story lies in the knowing. We are constantly being addressed as "you". The author doesn't leave us any leeway in our perspective.

On "Guests Of The Nation"

Written in the first person. The narrator is the central character, Bonaparte, the "I". Everything is told from Bonaparte's point of view. The effect is that of a "traditional" story. There is some distance between the reader and Bonaparte. We see the futility of things as they happen, almost expect Bonaparte to intervene, to disallow it, and are disappointed when he doesn't, but also empathize with him. However, the immediacy isn't there. There is a feeling of "the past" in the story. We don't quite get the feeling that it's happening here and now and around us (which it isn't.)

On "Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story"

Written in a mixture of first person and third limited voices. At times the author is simply the narrator, telling the story, but limiting the perspective to that of Ron, and at times becoming the central character, Ron. As the points of view change, we are shunted about, closer, and now further away from Ron. But, there is also a shift in tenses. When the author is writing in the first, we are transported back, 10 years back, as the events unfold. We are in the midst of things, things are happening around us. When the author writes in the third limited, we're alongside the author, in the present, looking back on the events, interpreting them, from outside of the central character.

On "The Geometry of Love"

Written in the third limited. A rather straight-forward story, with straight-forward devices.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

In an extended moment of insomnia...

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Rising Diphthong