The Call of the Mockingbird

Social Commentary

The Call of the Mockingbird

Illustration: Namaah/ Arré


rowing up in Calcutta in the ’80s and ’90s was a cornucopia of the simple pleasures of life. Things were cheap (still are), people were easy (still are), Bengalis were abundant (not any more) and rampant racism was present everywhere in constant and almost comical doses.

Against this happy horizon, where preconceived notions directed one’s perception of other people, I discovered a book called To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee in a dusty corner of the school library. At first, I had thought this was a cookbook judging by the cover – “Lee” was a Chinese surname (I had watched Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon by then) and Chinese people, well, cooked Chinese food. Judging books by their covers, people by their names, and entire lives by hearsay was pretty much par for the course.