City Moment – Birthday Woman and Marcel Proust, Nizmauddin East
The beautiful Delhi instant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
One evening The Delhi Walla was sitting at the drawing room of a society hostess in Nizamuddin East when a young woman entered the house. She was wearing a peach-colored dress. She was carrying flowers.
“You are looking radiant, madame,” I said.
“It’s my birthday,” she said.
“It’s surely not a gown?” I said.
“No, it’s not a gown,” she said.
“Where did you get it from?” I said.
“Sarojini Nagar,” she said.
She walked towards the curtains, stood still, looked movingly at the flowers and lowered her head to smell the blue carnations. The society hostess came forward and asked her to pose for her mobile phone camera.
The woman bowed.
“Did you celebrate the day? I said.
“I had High Tea with friends at The Imperial,” she said.
The woman then sat on the sofa. A coffee-table book on Taj Mahal was kept beside a side table. A few minutes later she pulled up her legs on the sofa. Suddenly, by her feet, I spotted Marcel Proust’s The Way by Swann’s, the first volume of the most exquisite book I have ever read. Following the fascination of my eyes, she looked down on the sofa. She, too, spotted the Proust.
“Have you read it?” I said.
“My sister has read it twice, first in English, then in the French original,” she said.
She then picked the novel and, her eyes continually cast downwards, she shyly placed it on her lap. It was a beautiful moment.
Birthday with Proust