Browse Archives

By Category

By Date

About Amit Varma

Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.




Bastiat Prize 2007 Winner

Recent entries

Trump and Modi are playing a Lose-Lose game

This is the 22nd installment of The Rationalist, my column for the Times of India. Trade wars are on the…

Population Is Not a Problem, but Our Greatest Strength

This is the 21st installment of The Rationalist, my column for the Times of India. When all political parties agree…

Can Amit Shah do for India what he did for the BJP?

This is the 20th installment of The Rationalist, my column for the Times of India. Amit Shah’s induction into the…

Lessons from an Ankhon Dekhi Prime Minister

This is the 19th installment of The Rationalist, my column for the Times of India. A friend of mine was…

We Must Reclaim Nationalism From the BJP

This is the 18th installment of The Rationalist, my column for the Times of India. The man who gave us…

06 October, 2007

An Accumulation of Losses

In a lovely build-up to a poem by Constantine Cavafy (reproduced here in italics), Rachel Cohen writes:

Walking in cities is an accumulation of small fragments of loss. A woman you want to keep looking at turns a corner; two people pass and you hear only, “It cannot be because of the child”; you look through a window at a drawing that looks like a print you have seen somewhere before, and it’s obscured when someone pulls a curtain across the window; a woman turns ferociously on the man standing next to her, but by the time you reach home you can no longer remember her face.

You begin to feel weighed down by all these losses, which seem separate from you, from the you that walks and sees and remembers and forgets and returns home. You wonder if the city in which you live is not the right city for you. Some other city might be less oppressive, freer. You dream of moving. And yet, you suspect that

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you. You will walk
the same streets, grow old in the same neighborhoods,
will turn gray in these same houses.
You will always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there is no ship for you, there is no road.
As you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.

(Cavafy, “The City”, written 1894, revised 1910, tr. Keeley and Sherrard)

Magnificent poetry, and an essay worthy of it. The extract was from “Lost Cities”, an essay by Cohen published in The Threepenny Review, though I first read it, a few hours ago, in The Best American Essays 2003, which I picked up at a Landmark sale for 99 bucks. (Yes, I mean rupees. Hurry!)

For more on Cavafy, check out Chandrahas’s post on the man and his work.

Posted by Amit Varma in Arts and entertainment | Excerpts

Copyright (C) India Uncut - http://indiauncut.com
All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission. Email: amitblogs@gmail.com
This article is permanently archived at:
http://indiauncut.com/iublog/article/an-accumulation-of-losses/

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.