The advantages are obvious, I don't need a wheely trolley to transport it around; the disadvantages...no super quick flick back to the family trees, but I am slowly sifting everyone out and making the links, and in this regard isn't Vikram Seth wonderfully obliging.
Just as I feel a little web of confusion weaving itself, in steps Vikram with an aside, the briefest of references and I have a lightbulb moment.
Kedarnath was the middle man in the shoemaking enterprise... Veena is his wife... sister of Pran... who is the husband of Savita, sister of Lata, and thus I find myself travelling from one to the next, around a community that is slowly becoming knowable.
Now I am wondering if this might be the point in the book where those who may not have been enjoying A Suitable Boy have surrendered and returned it to its role of keeping the door open on a windy day??
I knew we were in for some 'politics' and it was one of the reasons I wanted to read this one, because I am woefully ignorant of the details of partition and the conflicts that arose before and have continued since. The distribution of land and wealth rooted in colonial history and references to the Indian Mutiny had me doing some swotting. I have been plunged into the depths of the East India Company, familiar names popping up all over the place, distant history lessons drifting back at the mention of Warren Hastings and places like Lucknow.
So I was ready for all this and interested...but I am wondering how everyone else has fared??
Miraculously the grinding business of politics in the House threw up the wonderful Begum Abida Khan, a woman with the courage and tenacity to ask the awkward questions of L.N.Agarwal, the Home Minister, about the recent 'riots', about who exactly gave the order to fire and the subsequent shootings, before bravely issuing her words of warning...
'Beware of the time that you are about to bring upon yourself nd upon this country. It is three years since we obtained independence but look at the poor of the land: they have neither food to eat not clothes to wear nor shelter to prote themselves from the sky. You promised Paradise...'
Her speech explained far more than any history book could and I have read it several times...her words 'You have seperated the nail from the flesh,' felt like a searing indictment of the government and by a voice thus far little heard outside the home, that of a woman.
L.N Agarwal's dastardly revenge, cleverly countered by the women of the house he arranges to foreclose on, reveals that the women in this book, and in this country, find the power and use it when they can.
There is a revealing conversation between Mahesh Kapoor and Minister Sahib in the next part which hints at the level of corruption just waiting to step into government should the Old Guard step aside. They are the bulwarks to those 'interested in money and keen to join the game,'
Poor Mahesh Kapoor, beleagured and bedevilled by conflict, somehow demonstratng the patience and tolerance of a saint with the world and its mother around him, but sadly not with his wife and thankfully not with his son either.
I wonder if like me you had thought Mahesh Kapoor, true-to-type and heartless when his son-in-law Kedarnath comes to see him and asks him to keep Veena's jewellery safe. The couple have hit on hard times and Veena is attempting to get it valued in order to raise some money. Mahesh Kapoor seems impatient and dismissive, oblivious and unsympathetic to their plight, but when Veena's brother, his son Maan, gets the slapping and the jolt he deserves, it becomes evident that Mahesh Kapoor hasn't missed a thing. I can't wait to read what happens to Maan next....off on a month's exile to a remote village with his language teacher.
I am also missing Lata and Mrs Rupa Mehra so am very pleased to see that Part 7 opens with...
'Lata saw the envelope on the salver...'
I had almost (but not quite) forgotten about Lata and Kabir in the hurly burly of political life and Maan's romantic escapades so I am really looking forward to reading on.
I can only cover a small fraction of what happens in one post so I feel sure those of you still reading will have noticed and been impressed by much more besides, over to you...
For the diary::
Parts 7 & 8 ~ Saturday December 28th...and I realise I may be talking to myself while you are all eating the leftover turkey etc, but the post will be here anyway, so you can catch up while the carcass is boiling up for soup.