One needs a lot of patience and time on hand to read Anita Desai’s books. Not because they are difficult reads, but because they make you ponder, mull, stop in between and reflect on your state of mind and heart, and just make you come back to the book/s in bits and parts. This is exactly what happened as I was reading “The Rooftop Dwellers” – one of her many short stories.
I started reading Anita Desai while I was in college and the only thing that got me going with her books was the trailer of the movie, “In Custody”, which was based on her book. That was the first Anita Desai which I read and I haven’t looked back since. The movie was conceptualized by the duo Ismail-Merchant, which also led me to watching all their films and be in awe of their direction and production values, besides of course reading more of Desai.
“The Rooftop Dwellers” is about Moyna and her life of rebellion, living in a barsati (attic loosely put) with her family and wanting out desperately. Desai almost manages to depict an entire story in a couple of pages. Moyna’s behaviour, thoughts and actions all veer towards breaking away from traditional roles, which Anita masters. A read for all women and all men as well.