Reflections on Exile With Reference To Unaccustomed Earth

After the sudden demise of his wife and Roma’s mother, he adopts the American culture. He soon realizes the boredom he had previously been his life, living in conformity with the Indian culture. Little does he appear to embrace his Indian origin; disregarding the culture of togetherness. Although Roma considers the idea of taking him in their spacious house in Seattle, it takes Baba several months to make up his mind and visit his daughter and his grandson in the suburbs of Seattle. When in his travels, “occasionally there was a sentence about the weather. But there was never a father’s presence in those places” (Lahiri 6). Slowly, he had adopted a more individualistic and reserved lifestyle, most with the resemblance of the Americans.

As it is common with the old American people, he adopts traveling as part of his old age activities. In his grey hair and fair skin, he could fall into a half-American, full of life and fun. Lahiri (8) narrates, “Her father lived alone now, made his own meals.” After the death of his wife, he chose to live alone, making his own meals and hoping around the world. Rarely did he settle in one place, opting to take part in numerous travel groups in the United States. During one of these travels, he broke his cultural bondage, falling in love with Mrs. Bagchi, a woman he neither could not marry nor settle down with. A naturalized widower like him, he found himself initially developing an interest in her after they crossed paths during one of the packaged tours. Additionally, he regularly sent Roma pictures postcards, a characteristic of romantic American men. Although he initially did not have any interests in her, the increased interaction changed his mind as he observes, “but after Italy, he’d begun looking thinking of her, looking forward to receiving her e-mails, checking his computer five or six times a day” (Lahiri 11). She, however, observes that “the calls were less frequent now, normally once a week on Sunday afternoons” (Lahiri 7).

Baba, having migrated from his endian home, settles in America with his family. This, according to him is similar to exile. Living away from other Indians and associating with Americans more, he picks the cultural traits of the Americans. In an exile of his own, his home is provisional, evidenced by his choice to live off the briefcase. The family territory and borders, which secured him in a familiar territory unnecessarily, defended him beyond reason. Thus, when his wife passed away, and he did not have any kind of responsibilities upon him, he opted to enjoy life alone. The breakage of the bondages binding him set him loose from the prison, allowing him to try anything that came his way. The travels that never characterized his earlier life and the experience of romance and intimacy characterized his new life of freedom. He learns new things about himself that he never knew when he was a married man with kids, that he was a romantic and adventurous man. By crossing the borders to exile, he breaks the borders and barriers characterizing his new life, feeling content and happy with himself. At least, as an old man, he gets the chance to enjoy himself. Contrary to the custom where he would share everything with his daughter, this time he opted to keep Mrs. Bagchi away from her, although she knew about her.

Baba lives in two forms of exile according to the story, “Unaccustomed Earth.” One is his exile in the United States, one which breaks away his cultural practices and secondly his exile in a world without a family or responsibilities, which brings to birth a new sense of life in him. It is not until his separation and freedom from a family that he realizes that there is more to his life than mourning the demise of his wife or adhering to his cultural practices.

Works Cited
Lahiri, Jhumpa. Unaccustomed Earth. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. Print.

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