Cejcs 07 2011. indd



Download 103.96 Kb.
View original pdf
Page2/5
Date22.07.2022
Size103.96 Kb.
#156399
1   2   3   4   5
2 CentralEuropeanJournalCanadian 7-2011-1 6

Kusti and prayers together, in the compound (327-8; emphasis in the original. The novel begins with a scene in which we see Gustad Noble praying his kusti in the compound outside his fl at. (9) Genetsch writes, the compound [...] is a space where Gustad can derive meaning from practicing his religion in comfortable seclusion (153; emphasis added. Genetsch also notes, focusing on home, With the exception of burial, marriage and initiation rites, the majority of rituals to be celebrated can be celebrated at home. The most important ritual in Zoroastrianism is ‘kusti’, a prayer in the course of which the threads of a praying belt (‘kusti’) are tied and untied in a special order (Genetsch, In the opening passages of the novel domestic space is imbued with great importance. On the occasion of Gustad’s daughter’s birthday celebration, the reader is familiarized with the inside of the Nobles dwelling. Relph observes:
To be inside a place and to experience it as completely as we can does not mean that existentially we are insiders. The most fundamental form of insideness is that in which a place is experienced without deliberate and selfconscious re ection yetis full with signifi cance. It is the insideness that most people experience when they are at home [...]. (We are led through the diff erent parts of the house where the characters are rooted. Kort designates such a place personal or intimate (20). In turn, setting extends character for the reader who becomes gradually acquainted with all the cozy corners and nooks within the house. For example, the place set aside for Sohrab to spend the nights was separated by a slatted door “Sohrab promptly named it bed-with-the door, and found the addition a useful appendage when he constructed a bed-house out of all the bolsters and blankets and pillows he could gather (18; emphasis added. The psychological and spiritual attachment to the house is emphasized throughout the novel in ways that suggest this space is not merely a house, but a home or spiritual dwelling in Martin Heidegger’s existential sense. He says that dwelling
CEJCS_07_2011.indd 34
CEJCS_07_2011.indd 34 25.1.2012 13:01:06 25.1.2012 13:01:06

vol.
35
Central European Journal of Canadian Studies Revue d’Etudes Canadiennes en Europe Centrale articles
|
articles
Judit Molnár
Topophilic Sentiments in Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey (1991)
is a building in which man takes shelter [...]” (145; emphasis added. Noble goes so far as to equate his home with his life. Yet, this identifi cation of Gustad with his home also presents additional diffi
culties for extended family relations. He shouts at his son I kicked him once to save his life, and I kick him again. Out of my house, this time Out of my life (155). In turn, material changes in the house re ect the history of both its inhabitants and the nation. The self-imposed isolation of this place is emphasized by the blackout paper that has covered the windows since the war with China in 1962. The blackout paper becomes both a material fact of his domestic space and a trope which extends his interior psychic universe. The novel is set in the turbulent year of 1971 when fi nally, the day war resulted in the defeat of East Pakistan that became today’s Bangladesh. Gustad considers the blackout paper as a possible means against enemy’s airstrikes. Gustad’s wife, Dilnavaz, remarks, With the black paper everywhere, even starlight and moonlight is blocked out (64). The blackout paper almost becomes a character in itself it appears many times. The events of the 1971 war certainly provide a background for the narrative but what we have instead is a fully realized fi ctional world. In Genetsch’s view:
For Gustad [...] the paper is a mechanism of defence holding chaos, i.e. an erosion of meaning, bay. The everyday reality of 1971, together with the psychological reality of his traumas, is unpleasant and threatening for the protagonist of Mistry’s fi rst novel. Both have the power to unsettle the microcosm of his world. (Miss Kutpitia’s gothic residence is the microcosm of her world of sorcery where she practises witchcraft and where she keeps the dead body of two of her relatives as well. Later she burns them in her house and, mysteriously enough, it is only the one particular room where the bodies are kept that is damaged but not the rest of her home. Malashri Lal observes, For Miss Kutputia, the past is not dead, although visitors can seethe past emblematised in the artifacts of deadness” (65). To resort to Foucault’s terminology, it could bean example of “het- erotopia of deviation (25). Interestingly enough, on the one hand, this is a closed-in place, but on the other hand, this place establishes bonds among people in the community, too it is a lived place that is simultaneously mythic and real. It is real because it is only Miss Kutpitia who has a phone, which she allows others to use Those who went to telephone were never allowed more than two steps inside the coveted black instrument squatted on a little table beside the front door. Nonetheless, everyone had strange tales to report. Long conversations from the landing outside, they said and when the door opened there was only Miss Kutpitia inside (110). Gustad’s wife often visits this place for diff erent kinds of medical advice. However, Gustad valorizes other ordinary places because for him they are endowed with spiritual values. His grandfather’s furniture shop and his father’s bookstore are preeminent in this regard and both locations are often remembered in the course of the narrative. He can situate the birth of his own identity only in relation to these particular places. He has some of the old furniture in his own house. He gently remarks Some of it herein my house” (15; emphasis added) Later on Once again, the furniture from his childhood gathered comfortingly about him. The pieces stood like parentheses around his entire life, the sentinels of his sanity (16). David Williams reminds us that, The childhood home is not so easily foregone, it would seem
CEJCS_07_2011.indd 35
CEJCS_07_2011.indd 35 25.1.2012 13:01:06 25.1.2012 13:01:06

articles
|
articles
Judit Molnár
Topophilic Sentiments in Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey (1991)
36
its loss looms large within and without the text, as does the nostalgic yearning to reconstitute that absence in language [...]” (61). Gustad dreams that his humble fl at would fi ll with the happiness and merriment that used to reside in his childhood home” (31; emphasis added. The craft of furniture making is in Gustad’s veins he plans to make a bookcase for his son. Like Mistry, himself, and his father, who owned a bookstore, the character is an avid reader of books. Psychologically, the spaces of the furniture store and that of the bookstore, a cultural space, merge into one another as the formative spaces of his childhood years. As both real and
fi ctional spaces, they are indissolubly connected with the pastas sites of memory.
Grandpa’s chair, that used to sit with the black desk in the furniture workshop. What a wonderful world, amid the din of hammering and sawing, the scent of sawdust and sweat and polish. And in
Pappa’s bookstore, with its own special sounds and smells [...], where even the air had a special quality, as in a temple or mausoleum. (177; emphasis added)
When Gustad’s father is in hospital, the fi nest bookstore in the country (130) goes bankrupt in the hands of his drunkard uncle. In Coleman’s reading the disappearance of the bookstore and the furniture stores are examples oft he decline of the Parsi community (141).
Gustad’s workplace, the bank (Mistry also worked for sometime in a bank, is less personalized with the exception of the canteen which is the most important part of this social place
(Lefebvre, 33) for Gustad. It is here where he most often meets his friend, Dinshawji, and where many jokes are cracked that build bridges among cultures No linguistic ethnic group was spared perfect equality prevailed in the canteen when it came to jokes (92). We leave
Khodadad Building bypassing a wall, which is the novel’s dominant visual image (Gabriel,
38); it separates the housing complex from the outside. It functions as a demarcation line between the homogenous space of the apartment building and Bombay. In what follows, I attempt to illustrate what renders this monumental space (Kort, 163) of the wall signifi cant. It serves as a continual reminder of the Parsi community’s complex richness, but also of its isolation from the majority Hindu community. The wall keeps apart the social space behind it social spaces are [...] projections of hope and desire, and they have an eff ect on the human spirit. Social spaces have not only their own force but also their own real or possible signifi cance for human potential” (Kort, 165; emphasis added. The wall writes this community into existence denoting its potentials. Gustad develops a deep and signifi - cant attachment to it, as the wall was dear to him (With the increase in traffi
c and population, the black stonewall became more important than ever. It was the sole provider of privacy, especially for Jimmy and Gustad when they did their kustis at dawn. Over six feet high, the wall ran the length of the compound, sheltering them from non-Parsi
eyes while they prayed with the glow spreading in the east. (107; emphasis added)
Gustad’s “topophilic sentiments are hurt when the urban dwellers urinate against the wall Ignorant swine pissing on the road should be shot on the spot he would say. Or, Blowup the bloody wall with dynamite, then where will they shit (106). According to Tuan: To- pophilia takes many forms and varies greatly in emotional range and intensity. It is a start
CEJCS_07_2011.indd 36
CEJCS_07_2011.indd 36 25.1.2012 13:01:06 25.1.2012 13:01:06

vol.
37
Central European Journal of Canadian Studies Revue d’Etudes Canadiennes en Europe Centrale articles
|
articles
Judit Molnár
Topophilic Sentiments in Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey (1991)
to describe what they are [...] the sensual delight of physical contact the fondness for place because it is familiar, because it is home and incarnates the past, because it evokes pride of ownership or of creation [...]”(247). Gustad decides to save the wall when he learns that there are plans to demolish it in order to widen the municipal road. He reads the petition that was the landlord’s response to the municipality, detailing the hardships that would be imposed on the tenants if the compound was narrowed (116). To deploy Lefebvre’s terminology, we can say that the wall is a kind of border it is a point of friction and a point of junction (193) at the same time. Williams regards it as A refuge from the Hindu majority, the concrete wall is a border marked off by the odour of a counter-territoriality” (60). Gustad wants to preserve it and turn it into something that is multifunctional. Gustad’s idea is to convert it into a sacred wall therefore he asks a pavement artist to paint diff erent gods and goddesses on it. As Genet- sch suggests When Gustad decides to fortify his defenses by having the pavement artist paint the wall with Indian deities he appropriates art to turn a profane wall into a sacred place of worship (152). The wall’s centrality as an extended trope in the novel has been pointed out by many critics. Leckie argues that The wall [...] serves as a symbol of religious tolerance, aesthetic innovation, and local improvement (253). The artist begins by painting “‘Trimurt. Of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the gods of creation, preservation and destruction” (226; emphasis added. The images foreshadow what happens to the wall in the end when it is fi nally torn down. Then the artist asks Gustad to give him some twigs that his wonder tree grows so as to secure the health of his teeth. He says, Sir, one request. Is it OK. if I take some twigs from your tree I like to control the creation, preservation and destruction of my dental health (412; emphasis added. Gustad’s desperate endeavours to do justice to the ecumenical (Williams,
60) wall, however, fail due to circumstances beyond his control. The territorial confrontation from which the municipality emerges wins with a sweeping victory over the people’s protestation in the riot, in the morcha. The authoritative forces demolish the wall that by then has been transformed into a celebrated and honoured edifi ce and institution on its own and with its own well-deserved merits. It is covered by a huge number of deities, prophets, saints and other religious fi gures. The pavement artist’s intention is clear There is no diffi
culty. I can cover three hundred miles if necessary. Using assorted religions and their gods, saints and prophets [...]. But I always like to mix them up [...]. Makes me feel I am doing something to promote tolerance and understanding in the world (226). As Leckie sees it The wall is also a potent example of the congenial cohabitation of antagonistic religious views (254). Atone point, Gustad stands at the wall and is at a loss he bent down to get abetter look at the wall featuring a painting of the wall a painting of the wall featuring a painting [...]” (350). He does not comprehend this mise an abîme that puts into an abyss the social reality of a wall which on its painted side displays the face of universal brotherhood, but on its blank side reveals the face of social partition (Williams 67). Orin Gabriel’s interpretation This mise an abîme challenges metaphorically the notion of a single origin, and calls attention to the constructedness of cultural systems – a lesson that Gustad has yet to learn (Other places for worship that gain signifi cance in the novel are there temple for Parsis and Catholic churches for Christians. Interestingly, Mistry dwells less upon there temples than on the churches. A unique site for prayers is the Tower of Silence because it is also a burial place, a theme to which I will return. Gustad pronounces his kusti prayers almost exclusively
CEJCS_07_2011.indd 37
CEJCS_07_2011.indd 37 25.1.2012 13:01:06 25.1.2012 13:01:06

articles
|
articles
Judit Molnár
Topophilic Sentiments in Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey (1991)
38
at home, more precisely in his garden, which he treats as a holy place. In all probability, this is why there temples are only rarely referred to in the novel. His garden is his paradise and, as Genetsch writes, Etymologically, the word paradise, which is Persian for garden, is derived from the Avestan word ‘pairidaeza’, translating as enclosure (153). It comes as no surprise that Gustad is deeply disturbed when he fi nds the corpses of a rat and cat in his garden. And, later, his bushes are ruined out of revenge for his not having supporting his friend’s morally questionable deeds “Gustad emerged to pray at dawn and found the rose plant, the vinca and the subjo bush hacked to the ground. Every stem, every branch had been slashed off , chopped into little pieces (255). His precious garden, of which he regularly takes good care, is de-sanc- tied this way He went to the two bushes growing in the small patches of dusty earth under his window, opposite the black wall, and performed his daily bit of gardening (27). Among his heterotopias, Foucault attaches a major cultural importance to the garden. In ways that seem directly relevant to Mistry’s novel, he notes the extended meaning of this space, which refuses the oppositions of inside-outside, within non-Western contexts, he also notes the spiritual meaning which accrued to this space.
We must not forget that in the Orient the garden, an astonishing creation that is now a thousand years old, had very deep and seemingly superimposed meanings. The traditional garden of the Per-

Download 103.96 Kb.

Share with your friends:
1   2   3   4   5




The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2022
send message

    Main page