Arundhati Roy’s non-fiction pieces are smart, polemic, and courageous. In her fiction, Roy tackles family dynamics, but her non-fiction tackles governments and big institutions alike. In her book The Cost of Living, there are two essays, one on Big Dams, titled “The Greater Common Good”, and other other, titled “The End of Imagination” is on nuclear weapons. Her thesis is simple: both big dams and nuclear bombs are weapons of mass destruction.
In the middle of her moral outrage and her rallying cries, Roy makes clear what the true dreams of people should be. It’s a subtle moment, done in an exchange between Roy and a friend, in which she writes what she sees are the goals of humanity, which I found to be evocative and empathetic. It comprises this weekend’s inspiration, but also serves as a reminder to what Roy, in all of her strong words, doesn’t want us to take for granted and is truly “the only dream worth having.”
To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty in its lair. To never simplify what is complicated nor complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never loo away. And never, never to forget.
Roy’s essays were published in 1999, but her message about what the true cost of living still resonates today.
[Photo: by me. Arundhati Roy’s The Cost of Living.]