English Heart, Hindi Heartland: The Political Life of Literature in India

By Rashmi Sadana | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Across the Yamuna

For the last ten years of her life, I used to visit my grandmother in Pune. She didn’t like living there, even though it was a nice apartment complex, and she lived with her eldest son and daughter-in-law, my uncle and aunt. It had been a compromise; the family had decided that for her to live alone in Delhi was unwise. So she went from son to son to daughter to son in Toronto and Los Angeles and Bombay (as she knew it) and finally, at the age of seventy-six, said no more, she was not leaving India again, and so after my uncle’s retirement went with him to Pune. Whenever I visited her I would accompany her on morning and evening rounds in the apartment block garden. She missed gossiping with the ladies in Punjabi, the way she used to in Delhi; she did not speak English and here, they did not chat in Hindi. On those visits to Pune, I only left the apartment complex to check email at the local internet café and occasionally go to a beauty parlour. There I got to know another woman, who over the course of my visits told me about her unsatisfying marriage. It was the kind of talk between women one might expect, but what struck me was that this woman was sure she knew the exact cause of her and her husband’s mismatch. They shared the same mother tongue; he, like her, was a Marathi-speaker and of the same family (i.e., class, caste, sub-caste) background, but unlike her, she knew English and he didn’t. He lacks the same outlook as me, she said. He doesn’t understand me, he sees the world differently. We have grown apart.

-116-

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English Heart, Hindi Heartland: The Political Life of Literature in India
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Flashpoints ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Prologue - The Slush Pile xiii
  • Chapter 1- Reading Delhi and beyond 1
  • Chapter 2- Two Tales of a City 29
  • Chapter 3- In Sujan Singh Park 48
  • Chapter 4- The Two Brothers of Ansari Road 71
  • Chapter 5- At the Sahitya Akademi 94
  • Chapter 6- Across the Yamuna 116
  • Chapter 7- "A Suitable Text for a Vegetarian Audience" 136
  • Chapter 8- Indian Literature Abroad 153
  • Chapter 9- Conclusion 175
  • Notes 181
  • Bibliography 205
  • Index 215
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