Small Days and Nights is a book with a big heart. And, it is the perfect book to begin summer with. Quiet, gentle, poignant and powerful, Tishani Doshi’s story of Grace and her sister Lucia, or Lucy, is one that lingers on long after you have finished reading it. It has all the ingredients needed in a family saga—love, loss, betrayal, secrets and one that is satisfyingly complicated.
Doshi’s fiction is family focused. Her first book, The Pleasure Seekers, brought to life a large Indian Welsh family, the Patel-Joneses, that resembled her own—there were sisters, parents, a marriage and relationship. In Small Days and Nights, too, Doshi turns to this world—of childhood, family and secrets. And, of course, Madras. But that is where the similarity ends. If the Patel-Joneses represented a large noisy chaotic family, Marisola-Andrews are quiet.
The book begins with Grace returning to India to attend her mother’s funeral. Her mother leaves her a house on the beach and tells her that she has a sister with Down Syndrome. Giacinto Luciano, Grace’s Papi, has acousticophobia. His only concession—music. Her mother, Meera Andrews, escapes her family to marry Giacinto. Then, she escapes Grace and her husband every Thursday to visit her other daughter Lucy. Her father’s inability to accept Lucy and her mother’s guilt-tinged inability to forget her are both equally heartbreaking, as much as they are understandable.
Evocative and sad, Doshi delicately builds Grace’s world—her childhood, her parents and their somewhat faltering marriage. There is also her own marriage that is failing because she doesn’t want to have a child. Her forging a relationship with her sister Lucy and their lives—all come to life in Doshi’s world. Lucy loves cornflakes, dogs, stuffed toys, bike rides, vanilla ice cream, finger chips, Tom and Jerry, pink, parties and cinema. Her favourite book is The Jungle Book.
Beyond Lucy, who makes her presence felt through the book, Doshi looks at the larger issue of negotiating a world like India as women. Doshi’s collection of poetry Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, which came out last year, talks about rage and is being touted as an anthem for the #MeToo generation. In Small Days and Nights, she explores the theme deeper. The idea of independence, women, vulnerability and loneliness provide the backdrop of the story. But women and their relationships form the heart of the book.
SMALL DAYS AND NIGHTS
Author: Tishani Doshi
Price: Rs 499