Hema and Kaushik

"Most of the fishing villages were shut down,the lobster boats out of the water for winter, the wooden traps stacked and empty. At times I wished that I'd had my camera with me, but there is no documentation of those days. The food was generally terrible, but when I think of it I still savor the taste of diner coffee that was at once bitter and insipid, the waffles drowned in syrup, the gummy chowder and greasy eggs, as if no other food had nourished me then. (...) I had nothing to say to the fishermen and the other people who drank there and had lived in those villages all their lives, their tobacco-stained beards concealing their faces, their hands raw and chapped, their accents unfathomable. (...) I had never traveled alone before and I discovered that I liked it. No one in the world knew where I was, no one had the ability to reach me. It was like being dead, my escape allowing me to taste that tremendous power my mother possessed forever."


Jhumpa Lahiri's use of landscape to communicate the sense of isolation Kaushik felt was genius, and that last line referring to his mother's death was pretty heartbreaking. The twist at the end dates this short story to a particular time, and I love how Lahiri was brave enough to go there. The story may have been dated, but it's nonetheless beautiful. 

I hope Lahiri comes out with another book soon. 

"Hema and Kaushik" appears in the collection Unaccustomed Earth.

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