October Book Club Pick: China Room

Since China Hall

Radhika would often stop by to check on how I was walking, to help with the painting, or sometimes just to talk. The more I came, the more I wanted to stay, and the more I began to feel for him. The day after Tanbir’s visit, I was staring at the roof, hoping to see him, and suddenly he was there, turning to the farm, blinking. He joined me on the roof, standing next to me, and we saw the work of Krishnastatue before. The legs, made up of a pair of thick blue columns, tightened together, were formed. Also a blue trunk. A network of ropes tied the thing to the ground. Milled builders. Trucks would come and go. Suddenly, with the back panel open, there was a huge blue arm, palm facing the sky, as if pointing to the two bright green wigs on their heads.

‘Who is Isabel Archer?’ I said.

Radhika released her arms and breathed, and I felt her shoulders touch mine. ‘The light girl in a novel. In the end … Why? ‘

I didn’t know how to explain it. ‘No reason.’

He looked at me intently. “It’s an idea, you know. You should read it. It will help you pass the time. ”

I picked up a book at the airport, which hadn’t started yet but I was excited; as if I hoped it would be a way to overcome reading about life. ‘Yes, maybe’.

‘I can bring some. What are you doing?

I still didn’t know that. ‘Anything. I don’t care. ‘

We started on the porch of the day, which was painting the porch, staying out of the midday heat. Radhika took one end, I took the other. Suddenly his paint roller shook me. ‘That cleaned teacher. Has he been talking to you? ‘

I stopped painting. ‘Moe?’

‘He likes his books and he doesn’t. He will probably walk over to James. Does he have it? Have you been here? ‘

‘Who’s James?’

‘Long hair. Shaving. Middling height. Thick cheeks. ‘

– James?

“I think his name is Tanbir Singh.”

I shrugged, accepting failure. “People came to say they were talking about you.”

‘Ha! I knew it! I knew he would! He takes his work too far. He thinks he’s on a high level looking at everyone, throwing advice. ‘

However, I couldn’t help but feel that he was far from angry. Whispering to himself, he painted the roller through the tray, once, twice.

– I thought you were in town? I said, eager to continue the conversation.

‘What prompted you to do that?’

– I do not know. You live there, right? ‘

‘For now.’

– And before?

– Before?

‘Where are you from?’ I said, already overwhelmed.

‘I am from Ranch, which is the capital of Jharkhand state. It’s a long way off. ‘

– So how did you end up here?

He grabbed his cigarettes quietly and then thought better of it. Worried that I would hurt her, I tried to think of something light to win her back.

‘Should you be smoking around me? Can you offer me whiskey? It’s a pretty slippery slope.

As if I weren’t even going to talk, he leaned forward seriously, apparently, and I thought we could kiss him, something I wanted, and, now that it seemed possible, I felt completely unprepared. “I had all this anger,” he said, “he didn’t have a good start unintentionally and all that energy. And then I improved my outlet and things.”

‘Your outlet? Like a pipe? ‘

‘My job, doofus. Medicine. Look alive. ‘

I smiled. ‘Sorry. And are you coming to help me find my store? The way you did it? ‘

“I don’t think I can do that,” he said. “That’s all you have,” he added, and I nodded, because it was true. ‘But this place is a shelter.’

“I think my mother liked to grow up.”

“It’s a break …” He gestured off the farm. ‘Also, it’s a nice change to spend time with a young person who doesn’t judge me too much.’

“You know I was joking about smoking around me and …” But he was smiling. “I’m glad you came here,” I said. ‘Thank you.’

‘Please don’t. There is no need. ‘

He kissed me on the cheek and passed me by the arm, and I saw him return to his porch. I felt a strong longing for him, and next to that longing, he believes that life should not be an angry cry, that it can also be filled with beautiful moments that seem to come with the birds.

Since China Hall Published by Sunjeev Sahotak, published by Viking, Remnant of Penguin Publishing Group, division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright (c) 2021 By Sunjeev Sahotak.

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