Anita Desai (24th June, 1937) is an Indian novelist and Professor of Humanities at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Born in Mussoorie , India to a German immigrant mother, and a Bengali father at a time when it was unusual for Indian men to marry European women. After her birth the family moved to New Delhi where Anita Desai was raised with her two elder sisters and brothers.
After receiving a B.A in English literature in 1957 from the Miranda House of the University of Delhi, she married Ashvin Desai, author of Between Eternities: Ideas on Life and The Cosmos. Together they went on to have four children, including Booker Prize winning novelist Kiran Desai. However today it’s Anita Desai we’re putting under the spotlight with a selection of her quotes and the books they appeared in.
“Everything in the house turned damp; the blue fur of mildew crept furtively over any object left standing for the briefest length of time: shoes, bags, boxes, it consumed them all. The sheets on the bed were clammy when he got between them at night, and the darkness rang with the strident cacophony of the big tree crickets that had been waiting for this, their season.”
“Soon they grew tall, soon they grew strong. They wrapped themselves around her, smothering her in leaves and flowers. She laughed at the profusion, the beauty of this little grove that was the whole forest to her, the whole world. If they choked her, if they sucked her dry of substance, she would give in without any sacrifice of will — it seemed in keeping with nature to do so. In the end they would swarm over her, reach up above her, tower into the sky, and she would be just the old log, the dried mass of roots on which they grew. She was the tree, she was the soil, she was the earth.”
“…People stop, stare. No one stop and stare if one of your own beggars drop dead in street. No just step over him like he is a stone, or a dog turd and go away quickly. But when they see a white man with golden hair lying on the street, everyone stop, everyone cry, “Hai – hai, – poor boy, call doctor, call ambulance. What has happen, Farrokh-bhai?”
“At first she mistook them for sheets of pink crepe paper that someone had crumpled and carelessly flung down the hillside, perhaps after another astonishing party at the club. A moment later she remembered her great-grandmother’s words and saw that they were hosts of wild pink zephyranthes that had come up in the night after the first fall of rain.”