Home Sweet Home – Madame Bovary’s Windows, Golf Course Extension
A house of windows.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s midnight. Her fourth-floor house is quiet. Her daughter, husband and ma-in-law are sleeping. She settles down on the durrie by the window, lights a diya, pours herself a glass of red wine, and opens her much-scrawled copy of Madame Bovary. Sugandha Sehgal, 36, teaches this novel to grad students. An assistant professor in Delhi University’s Jesus and Mary College, she has taken leave from work to finish her doctoral thesis on “bodies out of context: politics and aesthetics of social media feminism.” Late last month, she shifted from her longtime house in Delhi’s Dwarka to Gurgaon, in Sector 62, Golf Course Extension. Trying to strike a friendship with the new home, she tells us on a WhatsApp video chat how she is experiencing its windows and balconies at different times of the day and night.
11.30 pm: “I have been teaching Madame Bovary to university students for years. A line in it—“The window, in the provinces, replaces theatres and promenading”—rings very true for me as I sit for hours by the window, gazing at the changing spectacles of everyday life. After putting my baby to bed, on weekends after the wine, I like standing in the balcony, and looking at the moon. In fact, the moon is visible from every part of this house, which is more like a glass-house with its too many windows. I remember stepping into my bedroom a couple of nights back, when the curtains were open and the moonlight was streaming straight into the room.”
2 pm: “From the study’s window, I see the Millennium City’s underbelly, with an army of laborers building a residential luxury tower brick by brick. Seeing them, I see pure physical labor, making me wonder what it would mean to build palatial houses for others to live in.”
9 am: “Every morning, my daughter’s first request on waking up is ‘Mumma, can I see the red slide?’. I then show it to her in the playground outside from our bedroom balcony, and each time she is thrilled to discover that the slide hasn’t vanished overnight.”
5.30 am: “The scenes from all the windows at this hour are about the wind howling, reminding me of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. I don’t know what this wind tries to say but she has a song of her own that she sings everyday by my windows.”
Sunset hour: “I haven’ seen the sun setting in this house so far. Maybe I don’t care for sunsets. I actually prefer looking out of the windows after the sun has set and it is already dark.”