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Of Rootless Lives

Rohini Mokashi Punekar

By Diana Romany
Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad, 2005, pp. 114, Rs. 225.00


Daina Romany’s Spoonful of Grey is a stark and dream like novel. The world created by its jagged, haunting prose is of rootless lives that have nothing more to lose. A lack of hope and reverence characterize most of the identifiable main characters. Such, one feels, would be the consciousness of persons who have suffered acute trauma: the palpable sense of resigned despair lies in the lack of an attempt to construct meaning.   The novel is made of separate and almost unconnected segments; some characters: Susan, Natasha and Joseph make more appearances, only the later part of the novel identifies their names. Sometimes the reader recognizes them by the thing each carries: a violin, a pierced navel, a bag. All the people in the novel are set afloat on the teeming hub of the metropolis; the surface brilliance and movement of a cityscape is vividly sketched, the sordid underbelly it hides is shown by the surfeit details of material objects: brand names of cars, perfumes, clothes. In the uniform twilight of half apprehended reality which is the consciousness of the novel, the sharp sensuous poetic evocation of sense datum: the painted blue toe, the melting mouthful of chocolate pastry, the crunching of a splintered glass ballerina, the nicotine flavoured kiss, the black straps of a sandal against brown feet, the buzzing speaker vibrating against the mouth, jolt the reader. This is a heightened, dilated apprehension of the senses, in the absence of any other reality. It is these images that tell of reality turned meaningless.   Diana Romany shows immense promise in her poetic energies and in her ability to not settle for accepted categories of the rebellious. The disenchantment and alienation of her people manages to escape affectation. One of them is described thus, There’s a man walking down the street and he’s thinking all these people, how strange, how delightful, how absolutely terrifying. He’s singing and doing a little tapdance in his head, wishing there was something to look forward to or at least something he could think about. Something that had happened in an ice age that he could pull out of his memory and slowly roast over the fire so he could watch it thaw. A night, a body, a dead faithful dog, anything at all. But there’s nothing except the grey pavement under the soles of his shoes and the steady ...

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