The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy Read Online (FREE)
Originally published: June 6, 2017
Author: Arundhati Roy
Page count: 449
Genres: Novel, Fiction, Romance novel
Publishers: Hamish Hamilton (UK), Alfred A. Knopf (US)
Nominations: National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction
Read The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy full novel online free here.
Where Do Old Birds Go to Die?
She lived in the graveyard like a tree. At dawn she saw the crows off and welcomed the bats home. At dusk she did the opposite. Between shifts she conferred with the ghosts of vultures that loomed in her high branches. She felt the gentle grip of their talons like an ache in an amputated limb. She gathered they weren’t altogether unhappy at having excused themselves and exited from the story.
When she first moved in, she endured months of casual cruelty like a tree would – without flinching. She didn’t turn to see which small boy had thrown a stone at her, didn’t crane her neck to read the insults scratched into her bark. When people called her names – clown without a circus, queen without a palace – she let the hurt blow through her branches like a breeze and used the music of her rustling leaves as balm to ease the pain.
It was only after Ziauddin, the blind imam who had once led the prayers in the Fatehpuri Masjid, befriended her and began to visit her that the neighbourhood decided it was time to leave her in peace.
Long ago a man who knew English told her that her name written backwards (in English) spelled Majnu. In the English version of the story of Laila and Majnu, he said, Majnu was called Romeo and Laila was Juliet. She found that hilarious. ‘You mean I’ve made a khichdi of their story?’ she asked. ‘What will they do when they find that Laila may actually be Majnu and Romi was really Juli?’ The next time he saw her, the Man Who Knew English said he’d made a mistake. Her name spelled backwards would be Mujna, which wasn’t a name and meant nothing at all. To this she said, ‘It doesn’t matter. I’m all of them, I’m Romi and Juli, I’m Laila and Majnu. And Mujna, why not? Who says my name is Anjum? I’m not Anjum, I’m Anjuman. I’m a mehfil, I’m a gathering. Of everybody and nobody, of everything and nothing. Is there anyone else you would like to invite? Everyone’s invited.’
The Man Who Knew English said it was clever of her to come up with that one. He said he’d never have thought of it himself. She said, ‘How could you have, with your standard of Urdu? What d’you think? English makes you clever automatically?’
He laughed. She laughed at his laugh. They shared a filter cigarette. He complained that Wills Navy Cut cigarettes were short and stumpy and simply not worth the price. She said she preferred them any day to Four Square or the very manly Red & White.