Tuesday, July 1

Truth or APPEARANCE of Truth?

What passes for “virtue” in our very own bourgeois household: There ought to be at least more than one dish on the table during meals — one preferably a curry — so the hand could “turn” and didn’t have to return to one place again and again (or as my mother sometimes puts it now: “until your father was alive, there were always served two dishes; only now do we sometimes have just one.”) 2. At all times there ought to be a "surplus" of essential household items. It is a sign of "want" to have to rush to the market each time a thing is needed (as when a guest arrives and there are no refreshments.) 3. When visiting someone else’s house one must never go empty-handed but should always carry some eatable (but never a pack of biscuits, for that is considered "vulgar".) What else is considered vulgar (especially for women): to go about during the daytime wearing only a nightgown.

(People from my own part will easily recognize these “truths” in these expressions: हाथ पल्टुड़ लिजी दूइ साग तो हूँड़ चैनी; खाली हाथ कसी जां, के ना के तो लीजाण भै; कोई गे कोई नह गे। बड़ भल लागूं। भीतरपन चीज़ तो हूँड़ चान।

Even at that hour when the grey sky of St. Petersburg is shrouded in total darkness and all its race of officials have dined and sated the...