The Namesake

Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London of Bengali Parents, and grew up in Rhode Island, USA. She is an accomplished writer and winner of the Pulitzer prize in 2000. Anyone and everyone who has read the story will agree that she is indeed a master story-teller!!!

The book deals with the trials and tribulations of an Indian Bengali couple who migrate very soon in their married life to the US of A. How their kids grow up confused. they are being sent to American schools, taught American History and yet, they know that they are not natives of the country.

The best part about the book is the intricacies with which she has explained the small, otherwise trivial things about life of an Indian in America. How, they try their best to maintain the culture that they have carried in from India. How they desperately want their kids to appreciate the culture and traditions, they do not understand, and feel no connect to. How the kids grow up hating everything that has anything to do with their being Indian. How they keep reminding themselves, that they are Americans really and have only a faint remote connection to India. How they are lost, coz they no longer feel the connection to their relatives on the visits to India and are aching to come back, to the place they belong. At the same time, they are not completely accepted in the American society. They may sit and eat with them, dress like them, but never will they be, THEM!

The story kind of reminded me of an old Hindi proverb

Dhobi ka kutta, na ghar ka, na ghaat ka (which translates roughly to “A washerman’s dog, belongs neither to the home, nor to the washing-ground”)

Indeed, this is a growing concern, amongst millions of Indians living abroad. The topic dealt so beautifully by Jhumpa, actually needs a further thought. The identity crisis is probably one of the worst that any human can face. You suddenly belong to no place, belong to no one. There are blood relations, you hardly know and there are made-relations who hardly know you!

God bless people who are going through this. May God give them the sanity to first understand who they are and then the wisdom to accept it.