Piece appears below in both English and the original Hindi.
There is an inherent quiet music and a brokenness in the story “Sindhu Library” excerpted from Geet Chaturvedi’s fiction Simsim. In its simple external reality, the story thinks with images and situations. There is a delicate textuality in the characterizations that take shape in a kind of leisureliness, be it the old man sitting among tattered books in his library or the balloon woman appearing at the start and end of the story, which is very poetic. I have translated the author’s pauses whenever I could, building a balance between language and sensation, between rhythm and vacuum.
My relationship with Joni Mitchell and her music moves through two stages. My early admiration for her—in the seventies—in some ways anticipated the zeitgeist. Then I stopped listening to her for about a quarter of a century. I began to rediscover Mitchell’s work in the new millennium, when, by coincidence, so was the rest of the world.
I am constantly asked why I persist in calling my city Bombay when it has long been renamed Mumbai. A rather articulate but annoying French academic even attributed inherent anarchy to my dissension. “If everyone called cities by the names they preferred, how would anyone know where they are?” I opted out of the argument. I would know. I would always know. With my eyes wide shut. Mumbai may be a zip code, but Bombay is my home.