Jeet Thayil, poet of the Bombay streets

He handed me the headphones. The music was high- pitched, like the sound track of a movie in which random scenes had been strung together, or cut up and played backwards, or deliberately placed out of order. Bottles clinked and a door creaked open. A shot rang out. A child whispered, is he here? Where is he? A woman wept and said, nahi, nahi. There was the sound of water falling from a great height. A door creaked shut and a bottle smashed on a tiled floor. A woman’s high voice fell deeply through the octaves and a shot rang out. A man panted like a dog. A child wept and water lapped against the side of a boat or a body. A bottle of champagne popped and a doorbell rang. James Bond guitars played against cowboy string orchestration. The child said, here he is. Where is here? The woman’s voice, soaked in reverb and whisky, executed another perfect fall and I experienced a sudden drop in my head like a vertigo rush. I heard the sound of water and Dimple handed me the pipe. I put it against my lips and heard a man shout, Monica, my darling, and I felt so dizzy that I had to close my eyes. Then a woman said, is he here?, and a child whispered, nahi, and a shot rang out and everything went silent. I took the headphones off and gave them back to Rumi.

He said, “Bombay blues.”

A taste from Jeet Thayil’s delerious new novel, Narcopolis, to be published this spring by Penguin Press.  Order now!

Thayil is a poet and musician based in Bombay.

Hear his own music here.

From NARCOPOLIS, by Jeet Thayil. Published by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) Jeet Thayil, 2012

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