In Custody Quotes
by Anita Desai

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Murad had been the spoilt rich boy with money in his pocket and Deven the poor widow’s son who could be bribed and bought to do anything for him, and although this had been the basis of their friendship, it has grown and altered and stood the test of time.

The uneven friendship between the lower-middle-class teacher Deven and the much wealthier magazine editor Murad began when they were young. Murad had the skill to manipulate and the money to bribe Deven into helping him with whatever scheme—of sometimes dubious ethics or legality—he proposed. Deven proved a born follower as well. Years later, he believes that Murad no longer sees him that way and that their friendship has some real substance.

[M]ost of the fields looked withered and desolate, and tin smokestacks exhaling enormous quantities of very black and foul-smelling smoke, sugarcane crushing works, cement factories, brick kilns, motor repair workshops and the attendant tea shops and bus stops were strung along the highway . . . overtaking what might once have been a pleasant agricultural aspect and obliterating it with all the litter and paraphernalia and effluent of modern society . . .

Deven has accepted a teaching post in a small village, Mirpore, but he feels drawn to the urban life of Delhi, the capitol. On a bus ride to the capitol, he tries not to be too distressed by the changes he sees in the rural landscape. Once he thought of the vast agricultural fields as bucolic, although he understood the harsh life of the farm laborers, but now he condemns the industrial blight that has obliterated the past he remembers. Even in a short stretch of highway, he can see the changes from the bus windows.

The poetry he had read and memorized lay beneath all these visible tips of his submerged existence, and he had thought of it more as a source of comfort and consolation than as a promise of salvation. He had never conceived of a summons expressed in a voice . . . that could . . . haul him up from the level on which he existed—mean,...

(The entire section is 526 words.)