Monday, September 27, 2010

a house for mr biswas

The other day, I needed to grab a book to read on the train and picked up "The Mystic Masseur" and when I was done, I had a hankering to read "Biswas", although I can quote large chunks of both books by now.

I read "Biswas" at least once a year and every time I do I write a post about it. I should have given the book its own category on Journalspace, I read it so often!

But I love it. I have always held close Biwas' feeling "to have lived without even attempting to lay claim to one's portion of the earth; to have lived and died as one had been born, unnecessary and unaccommodated."

As much as the book makes me laugh out loud, even after multiple readings, it always fills me with deep sadness. I always feel so much like Mohun Biswas and reading this book is like when Bipti bathes young Biswas and rubs open the sores on his legs. I feel so red and raw and in pain. It passes, just like his: "... in an hour or two the redness and rawness of the sores had faded, scabs were beginning to form, and Mr Biswas was happy again."

I'm not sure I'd say I get happy again, but it does get better. And Biswas is a small boy in that scene and he is happy playing with his sister and discovering a pond.

And I miss home when I read it. It's funny, I own the house with John I live in but it has never felt like mine. It does feel like home, but not like my house. Of course, the former is better, but it's not like I don't know where Biswas is coming from. I used to plan to buy my own house and it thrilled and terrified me at the same time.

But I miss Trinidad. I miss everything I thought I didn't like and everything I truly loved. It pains to think about Annabelle and Anu when reading "Biswas". I miss mango chow and a good goat roti and sada with bhagi or bodi. God, I miss bodi! I miss Paramin seasoning and Machel's "Soca Santa" and stupid-ass crowds in Chaguanas and Hi-Lo cake. I miss making a special trip to Long Circular Mall to "see the decorations" and eat Mario's pizza in the food court. I miss Chinese food like a motherfucker.

I miss cricket in the Oval and sno cones and iffy palette from the iffier palette man. I miss doubles with chadon beni and slight. I miss the lady I used to buy papers and salt prunes from every Saturday morning. I miss the 'Nade and the corn soup truck. God, I miss corn soup. I even miss the Nagar and Emancipation Village.

I miss the newspapers and the news reports on tv. I miss 97.1 FM. I miss mas on tv and the old Breakfast Shed. I miss pepper shrimps from Town Center Mall and Lucky's Preserve Plums from Disdrugs. I miss Excellent City Center.

I am not even a third of a way through "Biswas" this rounds.