Chitra and My Mother

Year’s End

I enjoyed reading the novel, “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri. I am much impressed by the skillful and persuasive organization and plots of the events in the novel. However, I am not satisfied with the marriage of Kaushik’s father and Chitra. While I was going through “Year’s End,” a number of questions were lingering in my mind. Some of the questions are: “Is Chitra really so much helpless that she has to marry Kaushik’s father?”, “Why don’t Chitra and Kaushik’s father think about their children?”, “Why don’t they recon how their children will feel about their marriage at such an old age?”, and “Do people have to remarry to revert to joy and happiness if one of the spouses dies?”

When I was reading “Year’s End,” I had my mother’s image in my mind comparing with each and every moment of Chitra with my mother’s life. Unlike Chitra, my mother is a divorcee, and she works in a low- paying job. Nevertheless, she is very optimistic and hopeful that she will have a vivid future. She strongly loathes remarriage, as she is much concerned about my life, career, and feelings.

According to Lahiri, Chitra keeps her daughter under a terror. They are much afraid of her as Chitra is so strict that they never had an experience of buying anything on their own. However, my mother is very liberal. She discusses and shares with me about every issue in my family. Besides, though Chitra is a school teacher and has an ample chance to build a bright future, she becomes hopeless to live on her own after her husband’s demise and gets married to Kaushik’s father. Is it because of gender stereotype that women will have gloomy future if their husbands are dead? Is it because husbands are supposed to be women’s fortune? In the contrary, my mother recons that she ought to be strong enough to live an independent life. Though she is illiterate and does not have a qualified life now, she hopes that she will have a better life in the future. The most exciting and praiseworthy thing is that she wants me to be an independent and well- established person before I get married, so that I won’t be left bewildered and helpless if anything happens in the future.

About kalpana23
I am a student.

5 Responses to Chitra and My Mother

  1. When I read your comparison between your mother and Chitra, I missed my mom alot. I do appreciate your mother’s efforts to raise you. But as I went through your writing, I felt that you were just saying as the daughter of your mother. Every daughter thinks like what you have said here and love her mother very much. To some extent I do agree with you because while going through this story I also felt that people’s value in life was shown just to make love. And, for me too, remarriage after the death of spouse is not important. But what you have to think is that many people find themselves isolated without partner. Another thing that you arised was that they didn’t care about their children when getting re-married. What I have to say is that you can’t say they didn’t care. If Chitra hadn’t care for her daughters then she wouldn’t have married. I think she married Kaushik’s father to let her daughters get father’s love. Moreover, age is just a number. It can’t be barrior between two hearts nor can prevent them from falling for each other. So, marrying at 30s or 40s is normal.
    Next, you compared your mom with Chitra but didn’t compare the time they belong to. Horizon for women have been broaden now due to various job opportunities and help from family. Though Chitra was teacher before getting married, she left it for her family because the thought of giving more importance to family and husband existed then. And you can also see that Chitra was abit conservative type in a sense that she didn’t let her daughters talk more and go outside frequently. Chitra was a typical house wife and mother upon whom cultural values were dominant. I truly found your writing interesting.
    All the best for next posts.

  2. auwpriyanka says:

    Dear kalpana, I liked your observation and the comparison you made between your mother and Chitra. Yes, I do agree with you that Chitra seems really helpless that she married Kaushik’s father. I found your thoughts about Chitra’s remarriage provoking. Chitra is a widow, but does she have to remarry in order to fulfill her as well as her children’s needs. Does a widow cannot have a single life? Why is the family always coercing them to remarry? Don’t the societies consider women enough strong to handle their life independently. These are some of the questions that aroused in my mind after I learnt your response. In my view, it is not necessary for a widow or a divorcee to remarry only for the sake of a family; for example, we can see your mother. As you have described about her, I too would have felt proud at her if I were her daughter. The circumstances she had to undergo without a husband could have been difficult in the male-dominated society. She could have faced many indignant and contemptous responses after her divorce. However, I can say that she is strong and determined enough that she took such a courageous step to live alone and nurture you too. If a woman is hardworking and dedicated then she doesn’t have to remarry just in case to up bring her children. Hence, I would like to suggest you that you should be strength of your mother and make her proud of you.
    Moreover, you talked about Chitra being strict to her daughters . In my opinion, she was just being a traditional mother who doesn’t want her daughters get lost in a completely new world as America was a new place for them. Also, she is seen rather protective and concerned when it comes to her daughter’s health or demands.Otherwise, I liked your response and it was great to know that you are optimistic about your mother’s decision.

  3. yogeauw says:

    It is glad to know that you and your mother are emotionally attached and have a strong bond. I respect your mother’s decision of making you an independent woman and provide you all the necessary education and other facilities before u get married.
    I also appreciate the point that you pointed out here that why were Chitra and Kaushik’s father getting married at this age even though it doesn’t seem necessary. But again if we think from other side, both of them are not in the country they belong. More over Chitra has two young daughters to look and care for but she hasn’t got a job yet. She could get a job, still then being a single parent it would be difficult and not sufficient for her to manage for three people in a new place in America. And on the other hand Kaushik’s father lost his wife and his only son has grown old enough that he no longer needs to be taken care every minute. So he is left alone in a foreign country. He could go back to India but he has his son who is costumed to the new place now. So considering these situations I believe their marriage was fair enough.

  4. meheksaba says:

    Dear Kalpana,I really appreciate your response,yet at some points my ideas contradict yours. I must share here that my mother has got married twice. When my step brother and the step sister were five and three years old respectively, their father passed away. A year later my mother was married to my father . The remarriage of my mother was not for the sake of her own joys and pleasures, rather her children were the centre of her concern. She could not find any other means of livelihood for her children as she is illeterate. Moreover, the society would not support her of being young and yet remain single. I feel necessary to add here that the idea of remarriage of my mother was put forward by my step sister’s paternal uncle. They were right when suggesting my mother for remarriage because if she hadn’t remarried then she would be a topic for society’s bitter critiques? In addition, her children would not have been able to get a father’s love. Let me add here my father had been caring and loving towards my step brother and sister until his last breath. He took their names and asked about them even when he was having his last breath. In brief, I mean to say that the situations that a widow encounters vary considerably from culture to culture and area to area. Moreover, if Chitra was not concerned aboout her daughters then she must not have kept a good eye on them. She was indeed mindful about her daughters and so she was concerned lest they do not become too talkative or refrain from their culture. While doing so she was successful to make Kaushik realise she is a responsible and nurturing mother as we see by the end of the story.

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