Last night, I finished reading 'The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay'. The author's rendition of pain, grief, desolation, death and loneliness, mostly loneliness, is exquisite, the writing is taut, the imagery sears your consciousness, deftly hewed dialogues sting with the sharp, unexpected pain of a papercut and its pace hurtles you along story twists that progressively become more tragic as you go along. The author brings into the story thinly disguised real life incidents that leave you seething in its wake, helpless but hopeful still. And you think again, that in your little bubble of a world, that 'Kya hoga is desh ka' is probably the most thought you will ever give to these incidents, and there are others whose lives change irrevocably, even lost forever. How significant your life is to you and how insignificant to someone else.
This book is now part of my 'heartachingly beautiful' collection, joining 'The Map of the World' and 'The Lovely Bones'. Both books are about death and life, or life after losing someone, both in very different ways. In fact, while the story of 'The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay' revolves around the lives of the upper crust, it hardly feels superficial. Both 'The Map of the World' and 'Little Bones' are, however, about very normal people whose lives change with the death of someone in their family. 'Map of the World' is like Ian McEwan's 'Atonement', death and guilt go hand in hand. In 'The Lovely Bones', Susie's died and gone to heaven and watches how her family copes with her death. There are sentences you wish you could savour like toffee, preserve forever.
I bought 'The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay' at Crossword, and no, it wasn't the cover that bought me, but the blurb on the jacket made it sound exactly like Bas Ek Pal, a movie whose trailer I was obsessed with at K (the movie was good, but not great). I picked up both 'The Map of the World' and 'The Lovely Bones' at a second-hand bazaar, at different times. After I finished reading 'The Lovely Bones', I felt like I was a thief, having paid ten rupees for such beauty.
Tomorrow, if everything is alright with my head, we will talk about happy books.