I get asked a lot of funny questions especially with regards to my name, my heritage, and people I know. Today, for instantce, someone wrote to me with this: ‘Always wanted to ask you this: Did you know Persis Khambatta personally? She is from a place called Khambat and Persian and all that. But died of a heart attack sadly. Mumbai does that to beautiful middle-aged woman. Look at what happened to Parveen Babi and Nafisa Joseph.’
The answer is no. I don’t. I responded, however, with this:
‘Do I know Persis Khambatta. Now my friend, that is like asking me if I know everyone from Khambhat – close to impossible. Or every Persian, even more mind-boggling. Or every Parsi. Highly undesirable. So no, my dear, I do not know her. I think I do understand why you said what you did about Bombay killing beautiful women… I would go a step further though. I think that every colossal city has the power to destroy individuals. If not literally, then certainly at the soul.
Bombay does that millions each day. It kills dreams. It shatters illusions. It engages you in a vicious cycle of EMIs, be it your next electronic buy, or your own sense of failure. You’re always borrowing from better to get better; to arrive, and you only end up poorer.
It forces you into a slavery of despair and isolation. And really, all big cities are themed on loneliness. That, is what finally gets us all. If it comes to you well before death does, you are as good as gone. Pack your suitcases and wait at the station. And don’t forget to take a big book. It might be something of a wait.’
Yesterday I tweeted, ‘Death is beautiful because it is the only real certainty there is. An absolute. An assurance of an end. A non-lie. Our one great truth.’ I must have sounded like I was on a suicide mission and just out of sharp knives at the moment. But it is this precisely that I was speaking of. An ultimate release from our inner and outer hell. I really don’t believe in hell at life. I believe in life and I suppose they are the same.
As an aside, I know that there are many Bombay folks as well as scores of other big city dwellers who will be up in arms with what I’ve said here; this, ‘blasphemy’ of sorts, as it were. But I am actually looking forward to what everyone has to say.
It’s a conversation. Let’s talk.