Extract from ‘Dreams of Rivers and Seas’

On reception of his mother’s brief phone call announcing his father’s death, John James took a deep breath, booked himself onto the first available flight for Delhi, had Elaine drive him to Heathrow, travelled towards the coming night and arrived at Indira Gandhi Airport to find the weather much cooler than expected. The funeral was to be the following morning. His mother was not in the apartment, but the elderly maid let him in and told him that Mrs James had gone as usual to the clinic. “To clinic,” she said. “Madam has gone to clinic.” John put his bag in the one spare room and sat on the bed. He stared at the bookshelves and sighed. Shall I take a shower? Suddenly he felt a loss of momentum, a faint giddiness. No, the important thing was to see Dad’s body.

John stood up and went back to the kitchen where the maid was sweeping the floor. Did she have a phone number, he asked, for his mother? A mobile or work phone? The woman’s head wobbled as she looked at him. She seemed to have trouble understanding. John repeated the question. “I need to phone my mother, at the clinic.” “Clinic,” the woman said, her head still wobbling. She began to give directions for how to get there. She used her arms, miming a person going out of a door and turning right. John decided the walk would do him good and set off.

Outside, despite the cooler temperature, there was the same glazed and glaring light he remembered from other trips east, the same sour smell in the air, the same odd mix of frenetic traffic, road¬side cooking, languid animals and persistent beggars. He liked it. He felt on holiday. I work too hard, he decided. This would blow away the cobwebs.

Somebody tried to sell him postcards of the old town, trinkets, necklaces, sacred images. He smiled and shook his head. But he couldn’t find the clinic. The broad streets seemed one block of buildings after another, some at considerable distances, all enclosed by decaying red walls. There were big trees between the buildings and swarms of crows cawing in the foliage. John pulled a mobile from his pocket and texted Elaine: “Can you believe it! Mum not home, and left no phone number. Now I’m getting lost looking for her. Wish you were here. Kisses. J.”

John’s father had died of cancer, but the end had come unexpectedly soon. From what John had found about prostate cancer, there should have been no immediate concern. Even in India, such things could be kept at bay for many years. Some westerners actually went to Delhi for cheaper operations. And Dad could always have come back to the UK if he needed special treatment. “John, your father died this morning,” his mother had said. He hadn’t been able to gauge her voice. He had been in the basement lab at the Centre; the centrifuge was noisy and the signal poor. But she certainly wasn’t crying. Mum was a tough one. And his own response had been quiet to say the least. He hadn’t wept. He wasn’t close to weeping. So all Dad’s famous research has come to nothing; those were the first words that crossed his mind. It didn’t upset him. Rather the contrary, as if something poignant had been sensibly cut short.

Only talking to Elaine, did he manage to feel the drama of it. “Oh my God, John,” she cried. “My God! John!” She forgot her own problems. There was the flight to arrange. “How awful – you must check if your visa is still valid. It’s so sudden. The poor thing, your poor mother!” Was she going to bury him out there? Surely not. And what about money? That John had nothing in his current account was common knowledge. He used his credit card to pay for the flight. “What about the future, though: your poor mother, your allowance?” Elaine found a cash dispenser and insisted he accept two hundred pounds, though she too was living off her parents.

Yet all this urgent talk, John sensed as they drove to the airport, was just buzz. His girlfriend was getting a chance to see how her man reacted in a crisis and to show how practical and sensible she could be. He adored her, but this was theatre. She was playing. Her vocation was theatre after all. Everything dramatic was fun for Elaine.

No, the only significant thought, he realised now, of these twenty-four hours that had followed his mother’s phone call, had been the knowledge that he would never see his father again. The words had come to him on the plane. They had been showing a movie in Hindi about a man who was supposed to be marrying one woman but in fact was very evidently in love with another who, for reasons John hadn’t grasped, was quite unsuitable. “You will never see him again,” he suddenly found himself muttering.

The moment the words came into his head he felt a fresh alertness. It was much sharper than the phone-call or anything Mother had said. Then, trying to picture his father, while at the same time watching the film, because the girls were pretty and he liked the brilliant colours and a certain charming artificiality you get in these Indian romances, he realised that there was no image of Dad in his mind: greenish grey eyes, lanky, balding from the front, sandy hair, fine nose, a slightly distracted, sometimes aloof air. It wasn’t much more than an identikit. Or not even. I won’t see Dad again, he thought. And he decided that the first thing he must do on arrival in Delhi was view his father’s body. He would see his dead father and fix the man in his memory for life to come. Except that now, wandering down a broad avenue of New Delhi with dry grass waving on the verges and here and there destitutes wrapped in rags, he couldn’t find Mother’s clinic; he didn’t know where his father was.

69 thoughts on “Extract from ‘Dreams of Rivers and Seas’

  1. Dorethea Tandon

    Hiya! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a blog article or vice-versa? My website addresses a lot of the same topics as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog by the way!

  2. Tomasa Kassim

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.

  3. 2take1external

    It’s perfect time to make some plans for the long run and it’s time to be happy. I’ve learn this post and if I may just I wish to recommend you some attention-grabbing issues or suggestions. Perhaps you can write subsequent articles referring to this article. I wish to read even more issues approximately it!

  4. pubg lite online download

    I have been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or blog posts on this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this website. Reading this info So i’m happy to convey that I’ve a very good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I most certainly will make sure to do not forget this website and give it a glance on a constant basis.

  5. how to download fortnite

    Admiring the time and energy you put into your website and detailed information you offer. It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed material. Excellent read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  6. wwe supercard hack tool

    Howdy! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when viewing from my iphone4. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to resolve this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share. Many thanks!

  7. mcent download for windows

    I cling on to listening to the reports speak about receiving free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the most excellent site to get one. Could you tell me please, where could i acquire some?

  8. poweriso 6.9 crack

    Hello, you used to write magnificent, but the last few posts have been kinda boring… I miss your super writings. Past several posts are just a bit out of track! come on!

  9. minecraft

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this fantastic blog!

    I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to brand new updates and will talk
    about this blog with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

  10. minecraft

    I enjoy, result in I found exactly what I used to be looking for.
    You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day.
    Bye

  11. minecraft

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve visited this website before but after looking at a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyhow, I’m definitely pleased I found it and I’ll be book-marking it and
    checking back often!

  12. mobile apps testing

    Sweet blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks

  13. viagra sklad

    Jak to sie dzieje, ze Viagra wywoluje erekcje, podtrzymuje ja i poteguje doznania seksualne? W jej skladzie znajduje sie sildenafil, czyli substancja aktywna, nalezaca do inhibitorow fosfodiesterazy typu 5. To ich skutecznosc, jako jedynych, potwierdzona jest badaniami klinicznymi. Sildenafil ulatwia doprowadzanie krwi do pracia w momencie stymulacji seksualnej (Viagra wykazuje skutecznosc tylko przy zaangazowaniu obojga partnerow).

  14. minecraft

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my blog so i came to “return the favor”.I’m trying to find things to improve my site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

  15. minecraft

    Do you have a spam issue on this blog; I also am a blogger,
    and I was wanting to know your situation; we have created some nice practices and we
    are looking to exchange strategies with other folks, be sure to shoot me an email
    if interested.

  16. free minecraft

    Hi everyone, it’s my first pay a quick visit at this site, and article is actually fruitful in support of me,
    keep up posting these types of articles.

  17. gamefly free trial

    Hi I am so delighted I found your website, I really found
    you by mistake, while I was searching on Bing for
    something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say thanks for a fantastic post and a all round interesting blog (I
    also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the moment but I have book-marked it and
    also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the superb work.

  18. gamefly free trial

    Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it
    but, I’d like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some ideas
    for your blog you might be interested in hearing.

    Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

  19. how to get help in windows 10

    Howdy, I do think your web site could be having web browser compatibility problems.
    When I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in IE,
    it has some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to
    give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, great blog!

  20. gamefly free trial

    whoah this weblog is fantastic i love reading your articles.
    Stay up the great work! You know, lots of people are hunting around for this info,
    you can help them greatly.

  21. gamefly free trial

    naturally like your website but you have to take a
    look at the spelling on several of your posts.
    Many of them are rife with spelling issues and
    I to find it very troublesome to tell the
    reality on the other hand I will certainly come back again.

  22. gamefly free trial

    I really like your blog.. very nice colors &
    theme. Did you make this website yourself or did you hire
    someone to do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking to create my
    own blog and would like to know where u got this from.
    thank you

  23. gamefly free trial

    hi!,I really like your writing very so much! proportion we keep in touch more about your article
    on AOL? I require a specialist on this house to unravel my problem.
    Maybe that’s you! Looking ahead to look you.

  24. gamefly free trial

    Wonderful goods from you, man. I have understand your
    stuff previous to and you’re just too wonderful. I actually like what you’ve acquired here,
    really like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it.
    You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep
    it wise. I can not wait to read much more from you.

    This is really a great site.

  25. gamefly free trial 2019 coupon

    I just like the helpful information you provide for your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I am slightly sure I will be told
    many new stuff proper right here! Good luck for the next!

  26. playstation 4 best games ever made 2019

    Today, I went to the beach front with my kids.
    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.”
    She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go
    back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  27. quest bars cheap

    Its such as you read my mind! You appear to grasp so
    much approximately this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something.
    I feel that you just can do with some percent to force the message house
    a bit, however instead of that, this is magnificent blog.
    An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  28. quest bars

    Hi there! I just wish to give you a huge thumbs up for your great information you have got
    right here on this post. I will be coming back to your website for more soon.

  29. tinyurl.com

    Wonderful blog you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article?
    I’d really like to be a part of online community where
    I can get opinions from other knowledgeable individuals
    that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.
    Cheers!

  30. the best twitter marketing

    I truly love your site.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you build this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m trying to create my very own site and would love to learn where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Appreciate it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *