Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Brief Takes: Under Something of a Cloud by Dom Moraes

Just finished Under Something of a Cloud, (Speaking Tiger Books), a collection of travel essays from the fluid pen of the late Dom Moraes.

These were the words that had me reaching out for my dictionary; some I knew but wanted to check their meaning once again:

Appurtenances.

Assever.

Anfractuous.

Enfiladed (by mist).

Their hirpling approach.

Declivity.

Then, there were descriptive terms like:

Faunlike.

Loping sourly away.

The slurred stutter of drums.

Sitting in the sullen sunfire.

Winged things infested the rough pelt of the sky overhead.

Ujjain is a most vivid town, embossing the eye with colour wherever it turns.

Sometimes the mountains looked like solidified sunlight (when a mad fire rages through them).

The train snorted shook plunged forwards, shaking off the station.

(In Sydney, the Harbour) Bridge was an eloquent bow tiled in steel, pronouncing its epiphanies of traffic.

Cattle and people disputed the narrow dusty alleys of the little town. (Dacca/Dhaka 1970)

And then,  there was the last essay, The Rattle of the Bones, dated 2002, when Moraes was in Ahmedabad assessing the effects of the post- Godhra riots. Written up in characteristic direct fashion but with emotion seeping through the finely-pared sentences, it leaves the reader disturbed afresh. The way the best kind of writing does.

Dom Moraesedited by Sarayu SrivatsaessaysSpeaking Tigertravel writingUnder Something of a Cloud

Sheila Kumar • September 3, 2019


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