Gabriel Marquez


It was a warm and dry afternoon in Delhi and I was carrying Arpita’s copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude in the hope of finishing it either in the library or at Gothic Door. Arpita had her Linguistics test and left for it at three, so Ishan and I planned to head back to his place for some beer. Nothing in the air, or in the university, or on the streets that run wayward across Kamala Nagar told us that hours later, when I would start reading the last pages of the novel at Sonnet’s flat in Vijay Nagar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez would take his last breath thousands of miles away from India.

At Ishan’s place I met with Soumya and asked her if she’d read the novel. It was only after she said yes with an expression on her face as urgent as my own that I told her my queer desire to meet with Marquez, somewhere quiet, if only for five minutes, to weep myself out in front of him. This urge was something she and I quickly recognized in each other, and we spent about half an hour discussing the novel. I don’t remember hers but my favourite character was Amaranta. Every reference which we promptly caught and understood lit up our faces. It was then that I claimed that if I ever took the PhD route, my thesis would be on his work. Ishan was amused. Gabriel Marquez was still alive.

 In the evening I came to Sonnet’s flat in Vijay Nagar. I opened the book again, thinking it was time I finished it, and during the initial couple of breaks that I took from reading, I joked with Sam and Ruma how everything was possible in Marquez’s narratives. That he could successfully twist our notions of time and space. That he could make us believe that an elephant looking for a home in the clouds was perhaps the most obvious occurrence on our planet. That a person could live for four hundred years and still make trips to Macondo in all good health. It was then that Sonnet complained of a certain pungent smell in the room. Sam and I couldn’t sense it at first, but when the new waft of air hit my face with it, I could only remember hospitals.

Half an hour into the novel, I came across this line, “It rained for four years, eleven months, and two days” and found out in the succeeding pages that with an unnerving certainty, the people in the book were waiting for death.

 The winds arrived in Delhi. Since it was getting more and more humid in the room, I went to the balcony to find Vijay Nagar drenched in rain. This poetic coincidence made me smile. I stayed there till the showers were reduced to a more pleasant drizzle. The rain also brought with itself a sudden but welcome drop in the temperature, so instead of continuing with the book, we ended up buffering videos on YouTube. I took that moment to check Facebook, something I wish I had not done. Though, I’m sure there are many who share the same unfortunate wish with me.

It is not really a good feeling— knowing that Gabriel Marquez, that excellent magician of words, whose book I was reading with such admiration passed away when he was being read. People read him and love him for all sorts of reason, but it’s the reassuring voice which always fuses a lively imagination into things which hold us captive in their codes, the intense pursuit of memory and nostalgia when nothing breathes but solitude, and his sublime ability to turn the morbid into wonder, which makes me hopeful for a magical, if not better, future.

Perhaps Heaven is crying over Delhi after meeting with Marquez. The open doors and windows in the flat below are thundering against the walls with such force that even the omnipresent silence of the night no longer seems capable of dispersing the noise into its darkness. There are still some pages left to end this One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Mihir Vatsa.
Mihir is a final year student of M. A. English at Ramjas College.