When Deven sees Murad on his college campus, he is uncomfortable with his friend's boldness, crassness, and larger-than-life personality. He feels nervous, not knowing why the man is there, and when he flees to his classroom, he "made his way down the passage to his classroom and arrived at the desk beside the blackboard as if at a refuge" (11). In this simile, we see that Murad stresses Deven so much that he feels the need to find a "refuge." It foreshadows the trouble to come with the interview opportunity Murad places before Deven.
Metaphor: Nur's Poetry
Nur's fame is unquestioned, and Murad is enthused to be promoting it in his new issue on Urdu poetry. He uses a metaphor to indicate how prominent of a figure Nur is: "Nur will be the star of the issue. The light that blazes in the centre and sends its rays to all corners of the world where his verse is known" (17). The metaphor is that Nur is a star in the sky, bright and illuminating, so important that such light reaches everywhere.
Deven is out of his element when he visits Delhi, often feeling overcome by the smells, sights, and sounds. He notes that "the sky was tinged sporadically red and orange and yellow and violet, like an old hag at a fair crazily dancing a dance of seven veils" (49). This is an effective simile to convey his disapprobation. The sky is not colorful and beautiful, but instead colorful in an excessive, crass way. He compares such colors to the garb of an "old hag" dancing, an image that is meant to disturb and repel readers.
Simile: Nur's Sycophants
At Nur's, Deven is in disbelief about the types of people and conversations Nur allows around him. He thinks, "The dialogue was as stale as the rice and gravy lying in tin trays all over the terrace" (54). In this simile, Deven derides what he hears, connecting it to the grotesque leftover food that is scattered willy-nilly in Nur's home. The conversation is just as bland and messy as the food itself—not at all befitting a great man like Nur.
Metaphor: Deven's Life
Deven experiences a brief evening of calm and peace when he comes home from his first meeting with Nur having decided he is not going to go through with the project. He spends time with his son and generally feels that he is happy to be back in his quiet life. Yet, using an effective metaphor, Desai writes of how this all ends: "the careful brown paper parcel that Deven had been making of the evening and tying up with care, came apart" (74). We can imagine a package, wrapped and tied with care, coming apart; it was once so pleasant, once so neat, but now that has all come to an end and the wrapping is going to be discarded.
In Custody Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for In Custody is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.