If religion is the opiate of the people, tradition is an even more sinister analgesic, simply because it rarely appears sinister. If religion is a tight band, a throbbing vein, and a needle, tradition is a far homelier concoction: poppy seeds ground into tea; a sweet cocoa drink laced with cocaine; the kind of thing your grandmother might have made.
You must live life with the full knowledge that your actions will remain. We are creatures of consequence.
Greeting cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.
In the end, your past is not my past and your truth is not my truth and your solution - is not my solution.
Our children will be born of our actions. Our accidents will become their destinies. Oh, the actions will remain. It is a simple matter of what you will do when the chips are down, my friend. When the fat lady is singing. When the walls are falling in, and the sky is dark, and the ground is rumbling. In that moment our actions will define us. And it makes no difference whether you are being watched by Allah, Jesus, Buddah, or whether you are not. On cold days a man can see his breath, on a hot day he can't. On both occasions, the man breathes.
These days, it feels to me like you make a devil's pact when you walk into this country. You hand over your passport at the check-in, you get stamped, you want to make a little money, get yourself started... but you mean to go back! Who would want to stay? Cold, wet, miserable; terrible food, dreadful newspapers - who would want to stay? In a place where you are never welcomed, only tolerated. Just tolerated. Like you are an animal finally house-trained.
... don't ever underestimate people, don't ever underestimate the pleasure they receive from viewing pain that is not their own... Pain by itself is just Pain. But Pain + Distance can = entertainment, voyeurism, human interest, cinéma vérité, a good belly chuckle, a sympathetic smile, a raised eyebrow, disguised contempt.
Pulchritude--beauty where you would least suspect it, hidden in a word that looked like it should signify a belch or a skin infection.
Please. Do me this one, great favor, Jones. If ever you hear anyone, when you are back home...if ever you hear anyone speak of the East," and here his voice plummeted a register, and the tone was full and sad, "hold your judgment. If you are told 'they are all this' or 'they do this' or 'their opinions are these,' withhold your judgment until all the facts are upon you. Because that land they call 'India' goes by a thousand names and is populated by millions, and if you think you have found two men the same among that multitude, then you are mistaken. It is merely a trick of the moonlight.
No fiction, no myths, no lies, no tangled webs - this is how Irie imagined her homeland. Because homeland is one of the magical fantasy words like unicorn and soul and infinity that have now passed into language.
Where I come from," said Archie, "a bloke likes to get to know a girl before he marries her." "Where you come from it is customary to boil vegetables until they fall apart. This does not mean," said Samad tersely, "that it is a good idea.
For ridding oneself of faith is like boiling seawater to retrieve the salt--something is gained but something is lost.
Generally, women can't do this, but men retain the ancient ability to leave a family and a past. They just unhook themselves, like removing a fake beard, and skulk discreetly back into society, changed men. Unrecognizable.
When the male organ of a man stands erect, two thirds of his intelect go away. And one third of his religion.
...despite all this, it is still hard to admit that there is no one more English than the Indian, no one more Indian than the English. There are still young white men who are angry about that; who will roll out at closing time into the poorly lit streets with a kitchen knife wrapped in a tight fist. But it makes an immigrant laugh to hear the fears of the nationalist, scared of infection, penetration, miscegenation, when this is small fry, peanuts, compared to what the immigrant fears - dissolution, disappearance.
Because immigrants have always been particularly prone to repetition - it's something to do with that experience of moving from West to East or East to West or from island to island. Even when you arrive, you're still going back and forth; your children are going round and round. There's no proper term for it - original sin seems too harsh; maybe original trauma would be better.
We are so convinced of the goodness of ourselves, and the goodness of our love, we cannot bear to believe that there might be something more worthy of love than us, more worthy of worship. Greeting cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.
... Clara was a teenage girl like any other; the object of her passion was only an accessory to the passion itself, a passion that through its long suppression was now asserting itself with volcanic necessity.
(and Catholics give out forgiveness at about the same rate as politicians give out promises and whores give out).
oh he loves her, just as the English loved India & Africa & Ireland; it is the love that is the problem, people treat their lovers badly. but maybe it is just the scenery that is wrong. maybe nothing that happens on stolen ground can expect a happy ending.
It wasn't like the spare rooms of immigrants––packed to the rafters with all that they have ever possessed, no matter how defective or damaged, mountains of odds and ends––that stand testament to the fact that they have things now, where before they had nothing.
It seems to me,' said Magid finally, as the moon became clearer than the sun, 'that you have tried to love a man as if he were an island and you were shipwrecked and you could mark the land with an X. It seems to me it is too late in the day for all that.' Then he gave her a kiss on the forehead that felt like a baptism and she wept like a baby.
She knows what it means. Oh, wonderfully bright at 6 a.m., yes, wonderfully clear for an hour. But the shorter the days, the longer the nights, the darker the house, the easier it is, the easier it is, the easier it is, to mistake a shadow for the writing on the wall, the sound of overland footsteps for the distant crack of thunder, and the midnight chime of a New Year clock for the bell that tolls the end of the world.
A trauma is something one repeats and repeats, after all, and this is the tragedy of the Iqbals--that they can't help but reenact the dash they once made from one land to another, from one faith to another, from one brown mother country into the pale, freckled arms of an imperial sovereign.
Because homeland is one of the magical fantasy words like unicorn and soul and infinity that have now passed into the language. And the particular magic of homeland, its particular spell over irie, was that it sounded like a beginning. The beginningest of beginnings. Like the first morning of Eden and the day after apocalypse. A blank page. (p.332).
I am from the Kilburn branch of the Keepers of the Eternal and Victorious Islamic Nation," said Hifan proudly. Irie inhaled. Keepers of the Eternal and Victorious Islamic Nation," repeated Millat, impressed. "That's a wicked name. It's got a wicked kung-fu arse sound to it." Irie frowned. "KEVIN?" We are aware," said Hifan solemnly, pointing to the spot underneath the cupped flame where the initials were minutely embroidered, "that we have an acronym problem.
Some people--Samad for example--will tell you not to trust people who overuse the phrase "at the end of the day"--football managers, estate agents, salesmen of all kinds--but Archie's never felt that way about it. Prudent use of said phrase never failed to convince him that his interlocutor was getting to the bottom of things, to the fundamentals.