Monday, July 21, 2008

The Shadow Lines

The story is told by a boy growing up in the period after the partition of Bengal between Pakistan and India. In a mixture of fact and fictions he shows through the events in one family how The Shadow Lines, borders drawn arbitrarily on maps and thus on peoples’ lives. The boy thrives on the stories about England and faraway places. By the same author I have admired ‘The Hungry Tide’ and he did captivate me again with his thoughts about places and memory. A few teasers:
I could not persuade her that a place does not merely exist, that it has to be invented in one’s imagination…
He said to me once that one could never know anything except through desire, real desire, which was not the same thing as geed or lust; a pure, painful and primitive desire, a longing for everything that was not in oneself, a torment of the flesh, that carried one beyond the limits of one’s mind to other times and other places, and even, if one was lucky to a place where there was no borer between oneself and one’s image in the mirror.
But he knew that the clarity of that image in his mind was merely the seductive clarity of ignorance; an illusion of knowledge created by a deceptive weight of remembered detail.
Every language assumes a centrality, a fixed and settled point to go away from and to come back to, and what my grandmother was looking for was a word for a journey which was not coming or going at all; a journey that was a search for precisely that fixed point which permits the proper use of the verbs of movement.
Everyone lives in a story, he says, my grandmother, my father, his father, Lenin, Einstein, and lots of other names I hadn’t heard of; they all lived in stories, because stories are all there are to live in, it w s just a question of which one you choose.
I tried to think of the future as it must have appeared to him: of helpless dependence couples with despairing little acts of rebellion.
- it is the special quality of loneliness that grows out of the fear of the war between oneself and one’s image in the mirror.
Amitav Ghosh is a great writer, run to the library!!!


  1. Vatima Hsohg, writing under his real name, is best known for his analysis of the demented mind-set of G.W. Bush. As he describes in-depth the phantasmoragraphical delusions and wild imaginary figments which activate his raving neurons, one gets the sense of almost comprehending the lunatic nightmare he inhabits and by which he is possessed. Vatima does not, of course, attempt to excuse such diabolic behavior, nor does he suggest a cure nor antidote, for, except for exorcism or immolation, no rescue from such devil-demons is possible. The future eternity of G.W. Bush, writhing in fiery agony in his accursed crypt, is delineated in exquisite detail by Hsogh, in his inimitable style, in his classic, 'The Flaming Madman'.
    Fly your fingers over the keyboard to Amazon, before they're all gone!!!!

  2. Speaking of imaginary lives, and living a story-line, the US Department of Homeland Security has just announced it discovered that the Bible, read backwards and upside down, contains 'thousands' of detailed plans for 'Muslim terrist attacks' against the US.
    Pre-dawn raids by hooded and masked DHS agents have commenced, initially concentrated on all hotel rooms across the country, to confiscate all Gideon Bibles, and arrest anyone caught reading one.
    So far, 99.99% of the thousands of Bibles confiscated have unbroken seals, and no arrests have been made, but the DHS expects this to improve as soon as they start breaking into private homes, especially in Mississippi and Alabama.

  3. An incidental effect of the DHS raids on hotel rooms to confiscate Bibles, and finding almost all unread, is that the Gideons have finally accepted a motion made years ago by the Church Board of Directors, to start issuing an illustrated, pornographic edition of the Bible for installation in hotel rooms, to improve readership.
    They have not, so far, accepted the recommendation to film a full-length pornographic version of the Bible for hotel-room Pay-TV.