“Did Maya have all her food this morning?” she asked.
“Mostly. She didn’t like the carrots. She spit them on the floor.”
“She always does that with carrots.”
“She doesn’t like them.”
“No. She doesn’t like them at all.”
“But you could try mixing them with apple-sauce,” she added. “She loves that”
“Apple-sauce,” he repeated, slowly. He may have been writing it down. He had a bad memory and she always made him write out lists. Once she even made him a list of all the things she wanted him to do in bed. But he looked at her with disgust and said that’s not what he was—a toy that turned on and off at her bidding.
She liked silence nowadays. It was the music she strained to listen to, in this bustling world, the music most rare. Here, the bodegas were simple, the sidewalks untouched by organic clothing stores, day care centers, fair-trade coffee and tapas bars. The disrepair was romantic, commensurate with the direction her life was headed. She liked that she could cross a river and start all over.
Sometimes, she feared there were no new beginnings for people like her—people with no real longing and this was just the second part of the same journey. Different mistakes, the same failure. What a shame people would say. She had so much promise.
Over time, her parents grew more poised and reticent. They were worried these days that like many of their friends’ children, she would come back home, demand coffee be brought to her bedside at noon. With all bold ambitions, the greater is the risk of failure. She would tell them this, What did you suppose? It was you who set me on the path of great expectations.
She practically heard the sky exhale. The headiness of victory. No. The relief.
Only when you do good things can you look back and say– everything happens for a reason. Else, it’s all a waste.
After seventeen years away, I’ve done something most Indians of my generation don’t do–return back home. When people ask me where I’m from, I always stumble. I say, I was born in Calcutta but I grew up in New York. When you are young, your awareness of the larger city is limited. I have to admit, I know New York much more intimately than I feel I know Calcutta.
Calcutta is like an aging beauty–deccayed and crumbling. But she has a soul. In a way that many other cities don’t.
I can’t say my work is documenting the city. I write fiction and by nature am not always interested in what is out there or representing what I see. There is always a narrative running in my mind which doesn’t necessarily correspond to to what is real and I use the camera to express it. In that sense, I feel I’m always writing fiction with the camera.