There is a dangerlok around her
every day. The post office clerk who thinks the stamps are
part of his personal heirloom, the lecturer who comes to
college only to have a dosa and a nap, the autorickshaw guys
who double park and clog her lane, the rascals who throw
stones at passing trains just for the kicks, Delhi-reeking
bureaucratic bozos and their homilies on morality, the boys
who spit betel-juice on a picture of Christ… dangerlok
threatens Rina F’s sanity every moment. Happily, she isn’t
sitting around, carping endlessly about what a bitch life is.
She participates in this whole drama, this natak, as a
Mumbaikar would call it, trying to do her mite to change
herself silly over her pet parrots. Is devastated when a stray
pup she takes to the animal clinic dies in a couple of days.
Her heart bleeds alike for Kosovo and the urchin at a railway
platform. She does not want to be "involved in life"
but cannot put a half-dead dog to sleep because he’s wagged
its tail at her. She is sad no one talks about the Revolution
and is surprised to find miracles round the corner.
she is brimming with personal angst. And of course she needs a
release. So there is David, a one-time flame. He becomes her
"other" world to where she escapes whenever
undeodarised armpits, nutty railway clerks and silly ass time
get to her. She writes to him long and short letters about
pesky parrots and post-colonialism with equal zest and
honesty. And there is Vera who keeps her away from
"vaginal monologues" and melodrama!
From her ex-
and the ex’s current girlfriend, Hindutva and wannabe
Arundhati Roys to Mr Chopra’s comical, very middle class
aspirations to respectability and made-in-phoren velvet sofa
sets, De Souza gives her protagonist enough to paint on the
canvas of 9-to-5 neurosis.
keen eye misses little. Even those little, innocuous things
one tends to miss like Newton’s apple. "… Two and
three-year-old idlers squatting by the roadside, heads bent
with interest and satisfaction to watch their little shitties
make patterns in the dust." Petty corruption. Pretentious
poets. Rains. Water problem. Scaffolding… one begins to
wonder if De Souza and Rina F are not the same people. Herself
a lecturer of English literature at St Xaviers College,
Bombay, De Souza seems to have written an autobiography in the
hairshirt of fiction.
The genre is convenient, also
somewhat clichéd. But De Souza, who has four books of poems
and books for children under her belt, does it in style. The
language is brilliant in passages, the style refreshing and
both of these more than make up for a Mumbai-centric, urban
story. It is a slim book – funny, sad, profane in its 115
pages. There is ennui here. But there is the odd scope for
hope. And at the end of the day, which you may spend in your
bed or at an airport lounge, this is well and truly Dangerlok
lurking in the many corners of life.