Custodians and Being in Custody

Barnali Tahbildarn '97 (English 27, 1997)

Who or what is "in custody" in Desai's novel? Who or what is a "custodian"? And how Nur's poetry serves to place Deven in both of these roles simultaneously.

And he knelt behind Nur in reverential silence, watching him write, keeping himself apart from the others, the one true disciple in whose safe custody Nur could place his work (168)

He had imagined he was taking Nur's poetry into safe custody, and not realized that if he was to be custodian of Nur's genius, then Nur would become his custodian and place him in custody too. This alliance could be considered an unendurable burden -- or else a shining honour. Both demanded an equal strength. (203)

He had accepted the gift of Nur's poetry and that meant he was custodian of Nur's very soul and spirit. It was a great distinction. He could not deny or abandon that under any pressure. (204)

Also consider Nur's wife and her is this female poet "in custody"? Why doesn't Deven have the courage to set her poems "free"?

PoCo Overview India Anita Desai In Custody