The Gap-Toothed Banister
A Tale of Anglo-India
Nimbly she began to climb the gritty red concrete steps. Absentmindedly she smoothed the surface of the worn banister. She wondered when the rickety rails would be fixed. The wood of the banister gleamed with the polish of years of hands running over it, but rain and damp, twin scourges of wooden furniture in the city, had loosened the balusters, and a series of discordant squeaks accompanied Grace as she ran up the stairs. She idly thought its carved posts always reminded her of pawns in a chess set. Moth-eaten, the relic of childhood…
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This is a close, compassionate look by Juliette Banerjee, an Anglo-Indian, at her community facing the challenges of change. It portrays with clarity the lives of Anglo-Indians in Calcutta during the 60s and 70s. In a shabby apartment block in Central Calcutta, four families, the Renshaws, the D’Cruzes, the Johnsons and the Vincents live in harmony. This smooth tempo changes forever one humid night when one of the families’ children are singled out, one lauded, the other randomly attacked. Tragedy and horror seem to haunt the apartment block. The next day a resident is raped by a servant. The social fabric has been rent in a way that tilts this world. It brings together all the other families of the ‘mansion’, as this block of flats is wryly nicknamed. The Gap-Toothed Banister is a love story, not in kindergarten hues but with softer colours of hope and faith. It is a story of a people more confused than disloyal, puzzled by a lack of appreciation for their myriad talent and fueled by an anger at what is perceived as scornful rejection. The Gap-Toothed Banister will be of immense interest to all curious about the mores and magic of Anglo-India.
Product Code: OB-004
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