Saturday, January 23, 2010

interpreter of maladies, by jhumpa lahiri.

The best part about this book, and there are many best parts, is the simple and clear language that Lahiri writes her stories, a story that tells one thing, but it can be translated into so many other little things because it's just so sharp. I love that all of her themes in the stories are about love, friendships, and relationships with people you love -- or are supposed to love -- or just people you meet.

This made my heart ache--

But the more I tried to distract myself, the more I began to convince myself that Mr. Pirzada's family was in all likelihood dead. Eventually I took a square of white chocolate out of the box, and unwrapped it, and then I did something I had never done before. I put the chocolate in my mouth, letting it soften until the last possible moment, and then as I chewed it slowly, I prayed that Mr. Pirzada's family was safe and sound. I had never prayed for anything before, had never been taught or told to, but I decided, given the circumstances, that it was something I should do. That night when I went to the bathroom I only pretended to brush my teeth, for I feared that I would somehow rinse the prayer out as well. I wet the bursh and rearranged the rube of paste to prevent my parents from asking questions, and fell asleep with sugar on my tongue.

--because it's such a child thing to do, to pray with chocolate, but just the nature of it is so clear-cut and real.

"Sexy" left me unsettled, left me feeling too much -- if that was possible -- because there were way too many people getting hurt, way too much unsettled emotions being spoken and unspoken. "A Real Durwan" made me terribly sad because all I can think about is how the residents of the apartment building cast out Boori Ma when she did nothing wrong, an old lady just trying to do her duties as she sees fit.

"The Third And Final Continent" though, was the perfect way to end the book, left on the hopeful tale that things can actually work out in the end.

I love how it went from this--

For five nights we shared a bed. Each of those nights, after applying cold cream and braiding her hair, which she tied up at the end with a black cotton string, she turned from me and wept; she missed her parents. Although I would be leaving the country in a few days, custom dictated that she was now a part of my household, and for the next six weeks she was to live with my brother and his wife, cooking, cleaning, serving tea and sweets to guest. I did nothing to console her.

--to this--

"She is a perfect lady!"

Now it was I who laughed. I did so quietly, and Mrs. Croft did not hear me. But Mala heard, and, for the first time, we looked at each other and smiled.

--and ended the book with this--

In my son's eyes I see the ambition that had first hurled me across the world. In a few years he will graduate and pave his way, alone and unprotected. But I remind myself that he has a father who is still living, a mother who is happy and strong. Whenever he is discouraged, I tell him that if I can survive on three continents, then there is no obstacle he cannot conquer. While the astronauts, heroes forever, spent mere hours on the moon, I have remained in this new world for nearly thirty years. I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.

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