Excerpt from Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Em and the Big Hoom

by Jerry Pinto

Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto X
Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Jun 2014, 224 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Excerpt
Em and the Big Hoom

She was in Ward 33 again, lying in bed, a bed with a dark green sheet and a view of the outside. We could both see a man and a woman getting out of a taxi. They were young and stood for a while, as if hesitating, in front of the hospital. Then the man took the woman's hand in his and they walked into the hospital and we lost them.

'That's why Indian women fall ill,' Em said. 'So that their husbands will hold their hands.'

'Is that why you're here?'

I wanted to bite my tongue. I wanted to whiz around the world, my red cape flying, and turn time back so that I could choose not to make that remark. But Em, being Em, was already replying.

'I don't know, Baba, I don't know why. It's a tap somewhere. It opened when you were born.'

I was repaid in pain, a sharp thing.

'I loved you. And before you I loved Susan, the warmth of her and the smiles and the tiny toes and the miracle of her fingernails and the way her scrapes would fade within the day as she healed and grew. I loved the way her face lit up when she saw me and the way she nursed. But after you came along . . .'

She turned to the window again. An ambulance turned in, lazily, in the way of the city's ambulances. Inured to traffic, unconcerned by mortality, unimpressed by anyone's urgency, the ambulance driver stopped to light a beedi before jumping out of the cab. We watched together as someone inside opened the doors and two young men leapt out and tried to wrest a stretcher from within.

'Was it like that?' she asked. She had forgotten how she got to the hospital.

'No,' I said. 'You came in a taxi.'

'What was I wearing?'

'The green dress with the pockets.'

She looked puzzled.

I rooted about in the locker by the bed, a locker marked 'Patient Belonging', and opened it. I pulled the dress out.

'Oh that one,' she said. 'Bring it here.'

She stroked it as if to rediscover a little more about it.

'The tap?' I said.

'Sorry. I must be going mad.'

We both smiled at this, but only a little. It was a tradition: the joke, the smile. 'After you were born, someone turned on a tap. At first it was only a drip, a black drip, and I felt it as sadness. I had felt sad before . . . who hasn't? I knew what it was like. But I didn't know that it would come like that, for no reason. I lived with it for weeks.'

'Was there a drain?'

'No. There was no drain. There isn't one even now.'

She was quiet for a bit.

'It's like oil. Like molasses, slow at first. Then one morning I woke up and it was flowing free and fast. I thought I would drown in it. I thought it would drown little you, and Susan. So I got up and got dressed and went out onto the road and tried to jump in front of a bus. I thought it would be a final thing, quick, like a bang. Only, it wasn't.'

Her hands twitched at the sheet.

'I know.'

'Yes, the scar's still there.'

We were silent. I didn't want to hear this. I wanted to hear it.

'The bus stopped and the conductor had to take me to a hospital in a taxi. He sat in the front, lotus pose.'

'Lotus?'

'My blood was flowing across the floor of the taxi. There was no drain there either. I remember it all, as if rain had fallen. Have you ever noticed how rain clears the air? Everything stands out but it also looks a little thinner, as if the dust had been keeping things together. I felt as if . . .'

  • 1
  • 2

From Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Jerry Pinto, 2012.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Bipolar Disorder

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Swimming Back to Trout River
    Swimming Back to Trout River
    by Linda Rui Feng
    Linda Rui Feng's first novel, Swimming Back to Trout River, is a powerful meditation on the ties ...
  • Book Jacket: The Unfit Heiress
    The Unfit Heiress
    by Audrey Farley
    During the American eugenics movement (see Beyond the Book), involuntary sterilization was used to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Daughters Of Smoke & Fire
    by Ava Homa
    Ava Homa's debut novel begins with an epigraph by Sherko Bekas, a Kurdish poet, the last lines of ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Last Flight
    by Julie Clark
    Julie Clark's second novel, The Last Flight, is the tale of two women, each desperate to escape an ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Book of Lost Names
by Kristin Harmel
A heartrending novel of survival, inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Everybody
    by Olivia Laing

    "Impassioned and provocative...[an] intensely moving, vital and artful book."
    The Guardian

  • Book Jacket

    Footnotes
    by Caseen Gaines

    The story of New York in the roaring twenties and the first Broadway show with an all-black cast.

Who Said...

From the moment I picked your book up...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

H I T Best P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.