First Edition, 1989
This reading had two occasions to celebrate, Eid al-Fitr, and Thommo's impending departure to Istanbul to begin a 40-country drive around the world in his Hyundai i20. We celebrated the breaking of the fast with semia payasam and shammi kabab brought by Zakia. And ordered up namkeen, tea and coffee from the CYC kitchen for Thommo's journey – he'll be leaving on Aug 2.
Zakia, Priya, Thommo
The novel was all about buttling, and we were regaled with tales of butlers who had survived the most extreme of circumstances without losing their aplomb. Stevens in the present novel is a particularly anal variety of the tribe. When Joe used that word Thommo remarked there was a Bengali babu in his office in Calcutta named অনল, pronounced 'onol', who unfortunately spelled his name in English, Anal.
Preeti & Pamela
Philosophically this novel propounds the tale of one who habitually subordinates his life's ambitions and goals to those of his master. Call it servility in one sense, but it is the kind of supreme sacrifice of the ego through which saints reach their goal by denying the self on the altar of a higher good. The tragedy of Stevens the butler is that his master ultimately fails, but not on account of any lack of effort on Stevens' part.
Thommo, Preeti, Pamela, Joe
There's also an abortive romance that denies Stevens the one chance he had of rounding out the evening of his life, when nothing remains of the day. In the film version it is with Mrs Benn (Emma Thompson) that Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) silently sheds a tear in parting.
Panoramic view of the readers
Here we are enjoying our double feast:
Thommo is Rs 5L short of the Rs 15L funding & Hyundai hasn't chipped in yet ...
Celebrating Eid Al-Fitr with Zakia's Semia Payasam & Shammi Kabab
And here's the group photograph at the end of the reading:
Joe, Zakia, Priya, Thommo, KumKum, Talitha, Shoba, Pamela, Preeti