Death and Fragility in the Gunj

Social Commentary

Death and Fragility in the Gunj

Illustration: Sushant Ahire


few days ago, I sat down to dinner with a close friend, when the conversation veered toward his childhood. Growing up in his paternal grandfather’s ancestral house in Mangalore, my friend, a fat, bookish kid, had it rough. He would be the last person to be picked in a game of cricket with cousins, would routinely be locked up in a dark room on rainy afternoons by the older boys, and be the butt of an unending stream of fat jokes.

What it wrought in him, this onerous childhood, was a fundamental question of his identity and his interests. It took several years to unlearn the behaviours he was socialised around. He knew he was different from the boys around him in that he wasn’t sporty or confident enough, and fell several yards short of the type A masculine personality due to which he faced a kind of crippling, life-altering ridicule.