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Interpreter of Maladies
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Defining Home

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MFAH Facilitator  | 13 comments Mod
The idea of "home" seems to be somewhat of a fluid concept for many of us. There are those who have relatively straightforward ideas of home, associating the notion with where they come from, or the house where they grew up, or where their families reside. For others, the concept is a bit more convoluted.

Consider the passage below from Jhumpa Lahiri's short story, "Mrs. Sen's." Reflect on Eliot and Mrs. Sen's two different perspectives on home. What does home mean to you?

**Come out to the MFAH this Thursday evening, 6:00 p.m., and engage in discussion on this topic, with an exclusive viewing of a collection of prints by artist Zarina Hashmi, entitled "Home is a Foreign Place." Don't forget to RSVP through the event page, space is limited!**


"Eliot, if I began to scream right now at the top of my lungs, would someone come?
"Mrs. Sen, what's wrong?"
"Nothing. I am only asking if someone would come."
Eliot shrugged. "Maybe."
"At home that is all you have to do. Not everybody has a telephone. But just raise your voice a bit, or express grief or joy of any kind, and one whole neighborhood and half of another has come to share the news, to help with arrangements."
By then Eliot understood that when Mrs. Sen said home, she meant India, not the apartment where she sat chopping vegetables. He thought of his own home, just five miles away, and the young married couple who waved from time to time as they jogged at sunset along the shore. On Labor Day they'd had a party. People were piled on the deck, eating, drinking, the sound of their laughter rising above the weary sigh of the waves. Eliot and his mother weren't invited. It was one of the rare days his mother had off, but they didn't go anywhere. She did the laundry, and balanced the checkbook, and, with Eliot's help, vacuumed the inside of the car... When, by evening, the crowd on the neighbors' deck began dancing, she looked up their number in the phone book and asked them to keep it down.
"They might call you," Eliot said eventually to Mrs. Sen. "But they might complain that you were making too much noise."
[pg. 116-117, "Mrs. Sen's"]


message 2: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 1 comments Mrs. Sen's idea of home suggests a tightly-knit community of family and neighbors ready to share in grief or sorrow. Eliot's concept of home conjures loose-knit community relationships that are marked by very little communication and interaction. A distance between persons is desired in Eliot's version of home. Good fences make god neighbors. There is a desire for privacy and independence in Eliot's version of home.
My version of home matches Eliot's version more closely than it does Mrs. Sen's. I currently live with my mother in the home I grew up in. We have been living here together for three years. My stepfather died three years ago, and none of my other siblings have live in this house fat any time during the last eight years or more. Duing the last three years, this house has become by home, though it is not mine. I pay a nominal rent to live here and that amount buys me a different kind of relationship with my mother. In this different kind of relationship, I have more privacy and independence than I otherwise would.
I have a dog that my mother gifted to me when I first moved in. He has become my companion and friend. He is family. His name is Buddy Blacknose. He doesn't judge me, an his presence makes me feel much more "at home" here. He and I go on walks though our neighborhood, where we meander for hour without passing any residences. We spend less than an eight of a mile waking the paved road where we see some occasional traffic: a young couple flying a remote controlled drone through the desert, a caraavan of Hollywood Hipsters scouting a film location or conducting a photo shoot. We continue on through the desert landscape where we observe flaura and fauna along with the beautiful geology of this place. I construct poems as we walk, and Buddy tries to follow the scents of wild rabbits and ground squirrels.


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