25 October, 2020

Whale Watching

It was a good year to be out of India

Illustration by Sorit
Whale Watching

Looking back, it’s tempting to find some strange augury in random memories: reading Chronicle of a Death Foretold during a brief summer visit to Delhi or, more eerily, hearing the crump of the blast that didn’t kill Britain’s Big Mother at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, just two weeks before the assassination of our own Iron Lady.

I know these were just meaningless coincidences in what was doomed to be a portentous year. And yet, I’m still grateful for one happy coincidence—that, for the first time since 1963, there were no Frieses in India. My family was comfortably scattered and 1984 was the year that Delhi ceased to be home. That physical absence, and absence of memory, would make all our eventual homecomings much sweeter.

My own 1984 began and ended in Brighton, spanning the second and third years of my academic calendar at the University of Sussex, then a roseate oasis of trendy lefties in Thatcher’s drab Britain. I had spent my first year in the metamorphosis of reinvention,...



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