‘Why can’t we be friends now?’ said the other, holding him affectionately. ‘It’s what I want. It’s what you want.’ But the horses didn’t want it—they swerved apart: the earth didn’t want it, sending up rocks through which riders must pass single file; the temple, the tank, the jail, the palace, the birds, the carrion, the Guest House…they didn’t want it, they said in their hundred voices ‘No, not yet,’ and the sky said ‘No, not there’.
– From E M Forster’s A Passage to India (1924)
Translator Debali Mookerjea-Leonard’s introduction to Sunil Gangopadhyay’s Blood uses EM Forster’s masterpiece to set the context for this deeply disturbing tale of angst, bitterness and loss. Of forgiveness, but also of the inability to forgive or forget. Of the trauma of childhood and of a lifetime spent running away from it. Sunil Gangopadhyay echoes Forster when Alice says,‘You and I might forget our mutual hostilities, but until our two countries come much closer, a closeness founded on equality, the people of the two countries will never be in harmony with one another… that time hasn’t come yet…’.