The empty prettiness of the landscape drew her attention. The last time she had gazed at moving scenery her mother’s ashes had lain on her lap. Now there was nothing tying her down anywhere. She was travelling away from Halifax, deliberately pulling at the bonds that held her..
Manju Kapur has always had an extraordinary gift for writing about people who are just like us, hanging between the middle class and high class, immigrants leaving their home country to work towards worldly riches. The Immigrant by Manju Kapur speaks about such a couple only. The story is about Ananda, who is in his mid-thirties, has settled in Halifax Canada after his parents death to become a dentist. On the other hand, 11, 462 km away in New Delhi, India, Nina, who works as an English Lecturer at the coveted Miranda House College, Delhi University is being forced by her mother to settle down as she is already thirty years old. Ananda as a prospect is liked by both Nina and her mother, and they settle down on him as the groom to be.
Nina then departs to Halifax after her marriage as an immigrant. She gets on with her life to be one of those people who have adapted Halifax with an open heart. But the world of settling is down is not that smooth. She encounters her own troubles of being alone and without an identity of her own in a new country. She encounters Ananda’s sexual troubles of premature ejaculation, which he thought would subside if he gets a wife with whom he can experiment from time to time to get rid of the problem. She faces instances where Ananda is patriotic towards a country which has adopted him and given him his status and asks her to follow the same suit. She goes through a phase that every immigrant goes through, adapting to an alien world and its alien ways and trying to fit in their with their born identity.
Though the plot given in the book is okayish, we would have loved to hear something more interesting about the immigrants of the year 1970. Overall, the book turned out to be a pretty decent read. Manju Kapur’s writing has been flawless as always with a female protagonist who is trying to find her identity against the norms set by her family and society. The book defines immigrants living abroad near perfect. How they join India Club to maintain the chords with their homeland, how the women maintain their long hair and exquisite ways to keep the husband in check, the relatives who make sure that the new immigrant doesn’t get too much dependent on them. The coldness of tone, the missing warmth and bland frozen food. And the best part, ”I have never been to India, would love to travel there someday”.
You will love the book for its flawless storytelling and stupidity of Ananda’s character, Nina’s independence and Halifax winters, through which Nina walks towards her new life.