Author: Shama Futehally
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0670889636
Written with astonishing economy, this work is an elegant and heart-warming novel. In pared down, poetic prose, Shama writes about the fears and hopes of an individual life which bring into sharp focus the larger realities of contemporary India.
Ayesha Jamal is on a train to Bombay, on a mission to resolve an unpleasant complication in her husband’s professional life that threatens to destroy everything. Uncertain, on edge, she responds to the passing world around her, to the realities of present-day India and her domestic life, with a mixture of helpless anger and desperate hope. In the compartment with her are a quintessential politician, self-important and solicitous; a no-nonsense girl, sharp and worldly-wise, who intrigues Ayesha with her easy confidence; and a young journalist, on his way to report on the recent communal riots in Bombay, in whom Ayesha expects the brashness of youth (even his sports shoes are sure of their place in the world) but who surprises her with his civility and good sense. During the course of the journey, an effortless intimacy binds the passengers in Compartment C; but Ayesha’s mind remains full of difficult questions: How long will this go on, this life where nothing is real? Can she tell her new friends the truth and be done with it? Will anything ever look beautiful again?
Then, just hours before Bombay Central station, new of a wholly unexpected event, as simple and apposite as a miracle, delivers Ayesha of all her burdens.