“I will lend it to you,” Subhana said, “so that you can feast your eyes on it.” For two days it adorned the sitting-room of the houseboat. He might have added, “Once it has been in your possession you will find that you can’t live without it.”
The carpet merchant Subhana artfully spins a complex web of charm, enticement and an extended wazwan to make a Persian rug irresistible to a customer. Sister Malone of the Elizabeth Scott Hospital finds her adamantine faith in the power of God and medicine tested when she meets a man quietly but firmly resolved to die. Young Ibrahim of the nomadic Bakriwar tribe, full of fire and sap, descends in a boisterous party from high mountain pastures to fetch his bride home but finds his courage turning to water when he finally meets her. And Miss Annie Passano worries about the comfort of the parrots and the monkey who travel with her and the agony of the bullocks and ponies straining at their harnesses under the hot sun but, when her maid Lily trips and drops a birdcage, cannot stop herself from beating the girl to within an inch of her life.
Compassionate, wise, effortlessly told stories, Indian Dust transcends time and space. This volume is a true classic.
When World War I began in 1914, sisters Jon and Rumer Godden—aged six and seven respectively—left England to join their parents in Narayangunj, a village in Bengal. There, the sisters led an idyllic life: they put up plays; wrote books; and spent summers in Coonoor, Mussoorie, Kashmir and Darjeeling. And, in a memorable journey, they spent a week on the Hooghly, sailing home from Calcutta via the Sundarbans. It was also in Narayangunj that the idyll soured—just before they left for England in 1919—and the sisters grew apart after a fistfight over the affections of a man.
Written with a child’s candour and wide-eyed sense of wonder, Two under the Indian Sun is not just a remarkable chronicle of a shared childhood, but also a vivid picture of everyday life in India of the early 1900s.