The novel is divided into twelve chapters of varying lengths, unevenly distributed into six sections, each introduced by a short epigraph. The six quoted authors were all poets or writers who held strong, dissident political views, who rebelled against persecution, who refused submission and compromise. Tormented by institutional violence, censored, imprisoned, some were forced to flee into exile, and some were killed. Others were
discriminated against for their skin colour, and/or their sexual orientation and gender “indeterminacy”. All were resolutely insubordinate.
They can all be counted among the “Unconsoled” to whom the novel is dedicated, and whose “Minister”, Hazrat Sarmad Shaheed, symbolises the refusal to submit to any authority other than one’s conscience, one’s intellectual and spiritual integrity.
1. The first epigraph (“I mean, it’s all a matter of your heart”) was taken from Nâzim Hikmet’s poem “On the Matter of Romeo and Juliet”. [ यानी सारा मामला दिल का है... नाज़िम हिकमत ]
2. The second epigraph quotes Pablo Neruda’s last book, Libro de las Preguntas (The Book of Questions), published posthumously in 1974 - “In what language does the rain fall / on tormented cities?”
[ बारिश किस भाषा में गिरती है
यातनाग्रस्त शहरों के ऊपर ? - पाब्लो नेरुदा ]
3. The third epigraph (141) quotes the first line of one of Agha Shahid Ali’s Kashmiri poems, “Death flies in, thin bureaucrat, from the plains”, a fit frame for the third “section”, narrated by “The Landlord”, a cold and somewhat cynical servant of the State.
[ मौत एक छरहरी नौकरशाह है, मैदानों से उड़कर आती हुई - आग़ा शाहिद अली ]
4. The fourth epigraph is by Jean Genet, whose novel Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs (written while its author was serving a prison sentence in Fresnes, in 1942) is quoted three times - "Then, as she had already died four or five times, the apartment had remained available for a drama more serious than her own death." (Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet, translated by Bernard Frechtman).
[ क्योंकि वह पहले चार या पाँच बार मर चुकी थी,
अपार्टमेंट उसकी मृत्यु से भी ज़्यादा गंभीर
किसी नाटक के लिए उपलब्ध था। - ज्याँ जेने ]
5. The fifth epigraph is quoted from James Baldwin’s essay entitled “Down at the cross. Letter from a Region in my Mind”, which offers a set of reflexions on race relations in the USA, many of which, alas, would still be relevant nowadays. When read in the light of caste relations in India, many of those reflexions also seem perfectly relevant - "And they would not believe me precisely because they would know that what I said was true." - from The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.
[ और वे मेरी बात पर सिर्फ़ इस वजह से यक़ीन नहीं करते थे की
वे जानते थे कि मैंने जो कुछ कहा था वह सच था। - जेम्स बाल्डविन ]
6. The final epigraph used by Roy is a quotation from Nadezhda Mandelstam’s first volume of memoirs, Hope Against Hope, in which Osip Mandelstam’s widow narrates his tragic fate. -
"Then there was the changing of the seasons. ‘This is also a journey,’ M said, ‘and they can’t take it away from us.’ - (translated by Max Hayward) [ फिर मौसमों में परिवर्तन हुआ। 'यह भी एक यात्रा है,' एम ने कहा, 'और इसे वे हमसे छीन नहीं सकते।' - नादेज्दा मान्देल्स्ताम ]