“How do you lose a word? Does it vanish into your memory, like an old toy in a cupboard, and lie hidden in the cobwebs and dust, waiting to be cleaned out or rediscovered?”
“(He) was in love with the idea of revolution. Men like that, even when they turn their backs on their party and their comrades, can never let go of the idea: it's the secret god that rules their hearts. It is what makes them come alive; they revel in the danger, the exquisite pain. It is to them what childbirth is to a woman, or war to a mercenary.”
“There was a time when the Bengali language was an angry flood trying to break down her door. She would crawl into a closet and lock herself in, stuffing her ears to shut out those sounds. But a door was no defense against her parents' voices: it was in that language that they fought, and the sounds of their quarrels would always find ways of trickling in under the door and thorugh the cracks, the level rising until she thought she would drown in the flood...The accumulated resentsmnets of their life were always phrased in the language, so that for her its sound had come to represent the music of unhappiness.”
“beauty is nothing but the start of terror we can hardly bear, and we adore it because of the serene scorn it could kill us with . . .”
“This is my gift to you, this story that is also a song, these words that are a part of Fokir. Such flaws as there are in my rendition of it I do not regret, for perhaps they will prevent me from fading from sight, as a good translator should. For once, I shall be glad if my imperfections render me visible.”
“And now, indeed, everything began to look new, unexpected, full of surprises. I had a book in my hands to while away the time, and it occurred to me that in a way a landscape is not unlike a book--a compilation of pages that overlap without any two ever being the same. People open the book according to their taste and training, their memories and desires: for a geologist the compilation opens at one page, for a boatman at another, and still another for a ship's pilot, a painter and so on. On occasion these pages are ruled with lines that are invisible to some people, while being for others as real, as charged and as volatile as high-voltage cables.”
“Language was both his livelihood and his addiction and he was often preyed upon by a near irresistible compulsion to eavesdrop on conversations in public places.”
“beauty is nothing but the start of terror we can hardly bear, and we adore it because of the serene scorn it could kill us with”
“Kanai, the dreamers have everyone to speak for them,' she said, 'But those who try to be strong, who try to build things - no one ever sees any poetry in that, do they?”
“dolphins in the water. He recalled that the dolphins usually gathered there when”
“The hours are slow in passing as they always are when you are waiting in fear for you know not what: I am reminded of the moments before the coming of a cyclone, when you have barricaded yourself into your dwelling and have nothing else to do but wait. The moments will not pass, the air hangs still and heavy; it is as though time itself has been slowed by the friction of fear.”
“But here, in the tide country, transformation is the rule of life: rivers stray from week to week, and islands are made and unmade in days. In other places forests take centuries, even millennia, to regenerate; but mangroves can recolonize a denuded island in ten to fifteen years. Could it be the very rhythms of the earth were quickened here so that they unfolded at an accelerated pace?”
“already know by instinct
we're not comfortably at home
in our translated world.”
“I had a book in my hands to while away the time and it occurred to me that in a way a landscape is not unlike a book - a compilation of pages that overlap without two ever being the same. People open the book according to their taste and training, their memories and desires. On occasion these pages are ruled with lines that are invisible to some people, while being for others, as real, as charged and as volatile as high-voltage cables.”
“like the big bed it was enclosed in a permanent canopy of heavy netting. Mosquitoes were the least of the creatures this net was intended to exclude; its absence, at any time, night or day, would have been an invitation for snakes and scorpions to make their way between the sheets. In a hut by the pond a woman was even said to have found a large dead fish in her bed. This was a koimachh, or tree perch, a species known to be able to manipulate its spiny fins in such a way as to drag itself overland for short distances. It had found its way into the bed only to suffocate on the mattress.”
“ON THE BANKS of every great river you’ll find a monument to excess.”
Kanai recalled the list of examples Nirmal had provided to prove this: the opera house of Manaus, the temple of Karnak, the ten thousand pagodas of Pagan. In the years since, he had visited many of those places, and it made him laugh to think his uncle had insisted that Canning too had a place on that list: “The mighty Matla’s monument is Port Canning.”
“With every step her carriage seemed to become a little straighter and her movements more assured: it was as though the mere proximity of the building had caused a brisk professional to emerge from the chrysalis of a careworn wife and mother.”
“Life goes on, regardless of the future, each day was precious all by itself.”
“This was something she would keep hidden within herself, maybe in place of the knot of pain and anger she had been carrying under her breastbone...a security blanket, an ace up her sleeve. She might never use it, but she would always feel its presence like a swelling secret stone, and that way when she let go of the rage, she would not feel nearly as empty.”
“different ways. Some to Spain, others to”
“Then one last thought tugs at me, so I turn back.
"So why did you name me Tamsin?" I ask. "You always promised to tell me later. Even though, technically, it's earlier."
My grandmother's smile flickers, deepens.
"It's how you introduced yourself to me tonight. I just assumed that's what you wanted to be named.”
“Your soul shines through even if you haven't got mascara on”
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