Sunday, September 30, 2007


All I can say is, read it.

Prose, pain and pathos.

Here's an excerpt:


In the village school we were taught to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

The teacher gave us difficult problems, asking us to figure out how many baskets of rice a family would have to sell to buy a new water buffalo. Or how many lengths of fabric a mother would need to make a vest and pants for her husband and still have enough for a dress for her baby.

Here I do a different set of calculations.

If I bring a half dozen men to my room each night,and each pays Mumtaz 30 Rupees, I am 180 Rupees closer each day to going back home. If I work for a hunderd days more, I will surely soon have nearly enough to pay back the 20,000 Rupees I owe to Mumtaz.

Then Shahanna teaches me city substraction.

Half of what the men pay, goes to Mumtaz, she says. Then you must take away 80 Rupees for what Mumtaz charges for your daily rice and dal. Another 100 a week for renting you a bed and pillow. And 500 for the shot the dirty-hands doctor gives us once a month so that we won't become pregnant.

She also warns me: Mumtaz will bury you alive if she sees your little book of figures.

I do the calculations.

And realize I am already buried alive.



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