The Picture of Indian Family in America in Jhumpa’ Lahiri’s Short Story Interpreter of Maladies or What picture of Das Family, a Bengalee family settled in America comes out in Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies?

The Picture of Indian Family in America in Jhumpa' Lahiri's Short Story "Interpreter of Maladies" or What picture of Das Family, a Bengalee family settled in America comes out in Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies"

Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter
of Maladies
is a short story about Indo-American family. She gives in
the story ample glimpses at the life style as well as outlook on life of such a
family. Her personal knowledge and experience have specifically enriched her account
and given it both truth and depth. Both the exterior and the interior of the
Das family are presented precisely yet graphically.

In the beginning the writer points out that the family
was dressed as foreigner did. Mr. Das, a clean-shaven man, was dressed in
shorts, sneakers, T-shirts. His wife, Mina wore a red-white chequered skirt
that was just above her knees. Her hair, short enough, was a little longer than
her husband’s. The children were too dressed like the European children. In
fact, though Bengali in origin, the Das couple and the children were in the
modern dress of the American.

More interesting is, however, their demeanour and the
style of living. Here also the family is shown less Indian and more American.
Of course there is a contrast in attitude between Mr. and Mrs. Das. Mr. Das was
openly courteous as depicted in his greeting of Mr. Kapasi in their initial
introduction. Mrs. Das was rather fashionably formal in her welcome to him, “smiling
dutifully at Mr. Kapasi, without displaying any welcome to him.”
children, too appeared nowhere discourteous or rude though their remark about
one another seemed not always fair.

There is yet another revelation about this
American-Bengalee couple. And that is the truth underneath their ultra-modern dress
and sophisticated formalism. Both Mr. and Mrs. Das seemed less seriously
concerned about their siblings. Thus when Mrs. Das had to take the little
daughter, Tina to the toilet, she looked extremely reluctant, and even “did
not hold the little girl’s hand as they walked to the rest room.”
Das was constantly busy with his camera and tour book. Just as Mrs. Das with
her nail polish and puffed rice. In fact as observed by Mr. Kapasi, “they
behaved like an older brother and sister, not parents.”
 Mrs. Das became only excited during their tour
to Udaygiri and Khandagiri, when Bobby was found missing, and was encircled by
a troop of angry monkeys. Mr. Das only felt nervous and fumbled but did nothing
to save him.

Mrs. Das also showed all through least interest in her
husband, except to complain for not hiring an air-conditioned car. In fact she
seemed to bear some grievances against him, and that was perhaps intensified by
her unfortunate, unwanted, but not at all forced extra-marital affairs with the
Punjabi friend. Though Mr. and Mrs. Das had long courtship and married life,
the prolong course of time might have bred in them a sort of disgust and

Lahiri’s portrayal of the Das family underlines the
spiritual and emotional hollowness of their Anglicised culture, drowned in the
extremity of artificial formality. This is well borne out in the sad fate of
Mr. Kapasi’s slip, containing his much carefully and cautiously written address
as Mrs. Das had promised to send photo copy to Mr. kapasi. As she whipped out
the hair brush, Kapasi’s slip fell out and “fluttered away in the wind.” Only
Mr. Kapasi clearly glimpsed his slip and true nature of Mrs. Das.

Jhumpa Lahiri is found have well brought here the
restive psychology of the Indians settled in the U.S.A., who are grappling with
the baffling problems of the new world.

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