City Moment – Writer Arundhati Roy Visits Her Father, Indian Christian Cemetery, Burari
A daughter’s pilgrimage.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It is afternoon. Writer Arundhati Roy is wading through tall, disheveled grass here in the Indian Christian Cemetery, in north Delhi’s Burari. She is carrying a few long stems of pink lilies in her left arm. A handbag is hanging from her right shoulder.
The ground is littered with crosses that must have fallen from their graves over the years, many of which lie unseen under the vegetation.
At long last, Ms Roy arrives at her destination. The inscription on the marble grave reads:
Just as I Am
Born on 28.09.1932
Died on 09.07.2007
He was Ms Roy’s father. She bends down on her knees, keeps the flowers under these words, and places her right palm close to “Mickey”, where it stays for some time.
Another inscription at the base of the grave gives the name in full—Rajiv Michael Roy.
With some help from a graveyard staffer, Ms Roy washes the grave and lights candles on it. Then, she opens her bag and takes out a hardbound copy of her book Azadi: Freedom, Fascism, Fiction.
She writes the following on the title page:
“For Rajib Michael Roy
The Boxer’s Boy
From your foul-mouthed daughter (PAGE MARK to pg 18)
All my love
Ms Roy carefully keeps the book on the grave. Moments later she walks out of the cemetery.
Arundhati Roy with her father