Telangana is the youngest state and the 29th state in the Union of India created in 2014 out of Andhra Pradesh with Hyderabad as its capital. In the latest novel of Salman Rushdie titled Quichotte, Telangan figures in a passage.
Quichotte was published in 2019, and also short listed for the annual Man Booker Prize. The 14th novel of Salman Rushdie takes inspiration from Miguel de Cervantes’ classic novel Don Quixote.
Quichotte is a story about an addled Indian American who works as a salesman for a pharmaceutical company owned by his relative. Forced to retire, he travels across America in pursuit of a celebrity television host with whom he has become obsessed. He also creates for himself an imaginary son named Sancho!
The book evokes the lives of immigrants in the USA and also reflects the prevailing social and political climate in the country. Read the following conversation between two people in Quichotte where Telugu and Telangana are mentioned in addition to Indian Indians:
‘Sancho: “Please. Forgive me. I only recently arrived in this country. I need to know what it means. How we should live.”
‘The woman: “You are not from here.”
‘Sancho: “No. I’m passing through. My name is Sancho.”
‘The woman: “That’s a peculiar name. Okay, let me tell you this, Mr Sancho. We are all affected. People said to my father, don’t let your daughter work in America any more, send her home. Maybe I will take that advice now. Nobody can tell the difference, Iranian, Arab, Muslim. Therefore we are not safe. Now Indian Indian families do not want arranged marriage with Indian Americans any more. Maybe our people will go to Canada. Canada says it will receive us. There is also the question of language. We are Telangana people, our language is Telugu. But we tell each other, do not speak Telugu where others can hear. Telugu, Arabic, Persian, nobody can tell the difference. Therefore we are not safe. That bar was supposed to be a safe place and they were not speaking Telugu to each other but still it was not safe, so nowhere is safe. Have you heard enough? We have lost our tongues. We must be cowardly and tear our own tongues from our mouths.”
‘Sancho: “That sucks. But I get it. May I see the lady to express my condolences?”
‘The woman: “That is not that lady’s house. She is not here. You have come to the wrong address.”
‘Sancho: “Then what – ”
‘The woman: “We are all that lady now. We are all her family. If you are from home, from the country, only recently arrived, then you will surely understand. But this is not your place. This is not your blood.”
‘Sancho: “What is your name?”
‘The woman: “Why do you want to know my name?”
‘Sancho: “You know my name.”
‘The woman: “What did you call me before?”
‘Sancho: “Beautiful from Beautiful.”
‘The woman: “Then that’s my name.”
‘Sancho: “I have to go,” Sancho says. “I have to accompany my father on his last journey. When I’m done with that …”
‘The woman: “I don’t know you,” she says. “And the future? Nobody can see it. Go away.”
‘The door shuts.
‘He leaves, simultaneously broken-hearted and elated, but with a new look to him; a sudden determination, which is not the same thing as requited love, but is, at least, something he can take away from the encounter.’
Quichotte is the latest book written by Salman Rushdie. Rushdie was born in Bombay (Mumbai) but grew up in England. His fascination with Bombay and India and South Asian and immigrants is reflected in his fiction and non-fiction.