Shalimar the Clown

Be so good as to cease to cast yourself in fictions. Pinch yourself, or slap yourself across the face if that's what it takes, but understand, please, that you are nonfictional, and this is real life.

Freedom is not a tea party, India. Freedom is a war.

I am your handiwork made flesh. You took beauty and created hideousness, and out of this monstrosity your child will be born …. I am the meaning of your deeds. I am the meaning of your so-called love; your destructive, selfish, wanton love … your love looks just like hatred.

India's head ached. Insomnia was still her most attentive, cruelest lover, demanding and possessing her selfishly whenever it chose to do so. Light-heartedness was beyond her today. A man of middling quality was trying to marry her, and there was something wrong with her father's voice on the phone.

In the absence of the great majority of guests, all manner of rumors came into the Shalimar Bagh, hooded and cloaked to shield themselves against the elements, and filled the empty places around the dastarkhans: cheap rumors from the gutter as well as fancy rumors claiming aristocratic parentage—an entire social hierarchy of rumor lounged against the bolsters, created by the mystery that enveloped everything like the blizzard. The rumors were veiled, shadowy, unclear, argumentative, often malicious. They seemed like a new species of living thing, and evolved according to the laws laid down by Darwin, mutating randomly and being subjected to the amoral winnowing processes of natural selection. The

... learning the knack of disconnecting her sense of smell, until she could switch it off like a radio and in the bland silence of its absence could drown in the sound of Nazarébaddoor’s hypnotic voice without having her reverie interrupted by the scent of sheep shit or Nazarébaddoor’s own frequent and extraordinary buffalo farts.

Our human tragedy is that we are unable to comprehend our experience, it slips through our fingers, we can't hold on to it, and the more time passes, the harder it gets...My father said that the natural world gave us explanations to compensate for the meanings we could not grasp. The slant of the cold sunlight on a winter pine, the music of water, an oar cutting the lake and the flight of birds, the mountains' nobility , the silence of the silence. We are given life but must accept that it is unattainable and rejoice in what can be held in the eye, the memory, the mind.

Our lives, our stories, flowed into one another's, were no longer our own, individual, discrete.

Sardar Harbans Singh passed away peacefully in a wicker rocking-chair in a Srinigar garden of spring flowers and honeybees with his favourite tartan rug across his knees and his beloved son, Yuvraj the exporter of handicrafts, by his side, and when he stopped breathing the bees stopped buzzing and the air silenced its whispers and Yuvraj understood that the story of the world he had known all his life was coming to an end, and that what followed would follow as it had to, but it would unquestionably be less graceful, less courteous and less civilized than what had gone.

She saw him fracture into rainbow colors through the prism of her love.

She watched him recede into the past as he stood...each successive moment of him passing before her eyes and being lost forever.

The beautiful came to this city [Hollywood] in huge pathetic herds, to suffer, to be humiliated, to see the powerful currency of their beauty devalued like the Russian ruble or Argentine peso;to work as bellhops, as bar hostesses, as garbage collectors, as maids. The city was a cliff and they were its stampeding lemmings. At the foot of the cliff was the valley of the broken dolls.

The inevitable triumph of illusion over reality that was the single most obvious truth about the history of the human race.

There were six hundred thousand Indian troops in Kashmir but the pogrom of the pandits was not prevented, why was that. Three and a half lakhs
of human beings arrived in Jammu as displaced persons and for many months the government did not provide shelters or relief or even register
their names, why was that. When the government finally built camps it only allowed for six thousand families to remain in the state, dispersing the
others around the country where they would be invisible and impotent, why was that. The camps at Purkhoo, Muthi, Mishriwallah, Nagrota were built
on the banks and beds of nullahas, dry seasonal waterways, and when the water came the camps were flooded, why was that. The ministers of the
government made speeches about ethnic cleansing but the civil servants wrote one another memos saying that the pandits were simply internal
migrants whose displacement had been self-imposed, why was that. The tents provided for the refugees to live in were often uninspected and
leaking and the monsoon rains came through, why was that. When the one-room tenements called ORTs were built to replace the tents they too
leaked profusely, why was that. There was one bathroom per three hundred persons in many camps why was that and the medical dispensaries
lacked basic first-aid materials why was that and thousands of the displaced died because of inadequate food and shelter why was that maybe five
thousand deaths because of intense heat and humidity because of snake bites and gastroenteritis and dengue fever and stress diabetes and
kidney ailments and tuberculosis and psychoneurosis and there was not a single health survey conducted by the government why was that and the
pandits of Kashmir were left to rot in their slum camps, to rot while the army and the insurgency fought over the bloodied and broken valley, to
dream of return, to die while dreaming of return, to die after the dream of return died so that they could not even die dreaming of it, why was that why
was that why was that why was that why was that.

This is what loss was, what death was: an escape into the luminous wave-forms, into the ineffable speed of the light-years and the parsecs, the eternally receding distances of the cosmos.

Volubility came easily to Max Ophuls, but it was just one of his many techniques of concealment, and he was never more hidden than when he seemed most open. For

When you pray for what you most want in the world, its opposite comes along with it. I was given a woman whom I truly loved and who truly loved me. The opposite side of such a love is the pain of its loss. I can only feel such pain today because until yesterday I knew that love.

You never know the answers to the questions of life until you are asked.