• God save us from people who mean well

    Vikram Seth
  • She had dispersed. She was the garden at Prem Nivas (soon to be entered into the annual Flower Show), she was Veena's love of music, Pran's asthma, Maan's generosity, the survival of some refugees four years ago, the neem leaves that would preserve quilts stored in the great zinc trunks of Prem Nivas, the moulting feather of some pond-heron, a small unrung brass bell, the memory of decency in an indecent time, the temperament of Bhaskar's great-grandchildren. Indeed, for all the Minsisster of Revenue's impatience with her, she was his regret.And it was right that she should continue to be so, for he should have treated her better while she lived, the poor, ignorant, grieving fool

    Vikram Seth
  • There was a few seconds' pause. Then Amit said: I meant, what were you thinking just now.When? said Lata.When you were looking at Pran and Savita. Over the pudding.Oh.Well, what?I can't remember, said Lata with a smile.Amit laughed.Why are you laughing? asked LataI like making you feel uncomfortable, I suppose.Oh. Why?--Or happy--or puzzled--just to see your change of mood. It's such fun. I pity you!Why? said Lata, startled.Because you'll never know what a pleasure it is to be in your company. Do stop talking like that, said Lata. Ma will come in any minute.You're quite right. In that case: Will you marry me?Lata dropped her cup. It fell to the floor and broke. She looked at the broken pieces--luckily, it has been empty--and then at Amit.Quick! said Amit. Before they come running to see what's happened. Say yes.Lata had knelt down; she was gathering he bits of the cup together and placing them on the delicately patterned blue-and-gold saucer.Amit joined her on the floor. Her face was only a few inches away from his, but her mind appeared to be somewhere else. he wanted to kiss her but he sensed that there was no question of it. One by one she picked up the shards of china.Was it a family heirloom? asked Amit.What? I'm sorry--said Lata, snapped out of her trance by the words. Well, I suppose I'll have to wait. I was hoping that by springing it on you like that I'd surprise you into agreeing......Do stop being idotic, Amit, said Lata. You're so brilliant, do you have to be so stupid as well? I should only take you seriously in black and white.And in sickness and health.Lata laughed: For better and for worse, she added

    Vikram Seth
  • And you spend your day going around from the house of the washerman to the house of the sweeper, asking about this one's son and that one's nephew, but spending no time with your own family. It is no secret that many people here think that you are a communist.'Rasheed reflected that this probably meant only that he loathed the poverty and injustice endemic to the village, and that he made no particular secret of it

    Vikram Seth
  • All over India, all over the world, as the sun or the shadow of darkness moves from east to west, the call to prayer moves with it, and people kneel down in a wave to pray to God. Five waves each day - one for each namaaz - ripple across the globe from longitude to longitude. The component elements change direction, like iron filings near a magnet - towards the house of God in Mecca

    Vikram Seth
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