In Tishani Doshi's new novel, a woman discovers a sister who was kept a secret her whole life
I find my sister at the Sneha Centre for Girls in Injambakkam. It is November in Madras. Roads laid waste by rain. Mosquitoes vying for every inch of exposed skin.Nothing about it is scary. Not the narrow funnel of Periyar Street or the lone, crooked laburnum leaning over the gate. Not even the towers of plastic clogging the exposed drains.
I think of my mother; my newly dead mother who has bequeathed me land, a house, a sister.
The place is more terrible inside than out.
All the walls are a uniform concrete grey, and the cork-boards – the only splash of colour in the rooms – are filled with pictorial charts of vegetables and types of professions. Sad, uninventive socialist charts, left over from when India used to be friends with Russia. The windows are barred with intricate grilles, and the bedraggled children stare off into nothing, holding themselves, . . .