she of the mountains-vivek shraya

“He loved seeing her toothbrush leaning on his, like miniature figurines of themselves with clear, bristled faces. It pleased him to know that, from nine to five, while their physical bodies were functioning in distant cubicles, acquiring money to pay their bills, their toothbrushes stayed still and close in that steel cup. It didn’t matter that the cup itself was filthy at the bottom from the dried up water because they were in it together.” (98-99)

this is my favourite image in this book. it comes at a very high point of possibility for love, when boundaries are broken and the anarchist spirit is strong (freedom of choice forever). i can relate to the perhaps unintended consequences of gays preserving the same social order that they allegedly rally against-they are, in a lot of ways, more gatekeeper than the gatekeepers. if you don’t believe me, step into any women’s centre on any university campus or just whisper the words “michigan womyn’s music festival” any summer-i dare you.

“But even more than this-he hadn’t known how to trust love because he had always had to work for it….
And when they said I love you, he wanted to respond: You should. And then walk away.” (69)

and what a feeling that is, to actually feel secure in being with someone who helps you feel the best you.

“Although a chapter of their relationship had ended, one year later, he found that there was still no period to their sentence. Their sentence kept finding a way, because they kept finding a way to make room for a comma and another comma and another conjunction, because there was still so much more to share, still so much more to say.” (145)

and the bittersweet one that comes with the chapter ends, but you know you’re still writing the book. forever. how sometimes, you have to go back in order to go forward:

“Sundar had grown up in a home in which his mother was solely responsible for the food. Even though their servants were allowed to help by acquiring and grating and cutting and chopping and rinsing, the actual act of cooking belonged to her. This was more than just a sense of duty or birthright. In the kitchen, she could transform her love into something edible and sustaining for her six children. In the kitchen her love was tangible and alive….Her smile receded as Sundar got older and his body expanded, mirroring her own enormity. Looking at him, she saw an animal, an elephant made of her own flesh, reflecting her own weight. She began to resent his constant need for nourishment and chastised him when he looked for food between meals. This only increased his hunger.

Sundar could taste the absence of his mother’s love in the food. The roti was bitter, the pilau dry, and, no matter how hot the food was when served, the warmth and the taste of the sun was gone. But he kept eating, hoping to find her love once more.” (58-9)

gotta love a toronto writer, especially one with a babyface tribute album.


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