This paper is an attempt about expounding the illness of Mr. Das family in THE INTERPRETER OF MALADIES by Jhumpa Lahiri. The main illness involved in this paper is language and communication, contrasting region and cultural identity and memory and past etc. They left their plantation in some other country and so they are unable to accept the circumstances. Their illnesses are mainly argued in the paper.
Literature is the mirror of life. It gives us moral values and lively experiences. This fiction explains us about the cultural problems and language. Nilanjana Sudeshna Lahiri is an American writer her debut collection of short story “Interpreter of Maladies” (1999) won the Pulitzer prize. Lahiri was given the National Humanities Medal in the year 2014. At present, she is working as a professor of creative writing in Princeton University. A short story named “The Boundary” was published in “The New Yorker” in the year 2018.
Hiring an Translator because of Language Problem
The Das family is on vacation to India and hired Mr. Kapasi to drive them to visit the Sun Temple at Konark. When the car stopped near the tea stall Mr. and Mrs. Das were arguing about who should take their daughter, Tina to the bathroom. Ronny, their son jumps out of the car to see a goat, Mr. Das did not do anything to stop him, even though Mr. Das tried to stop him, Ronny wanted to give the goat a piece of gum. Mr. Das and his wife were born and raised in the United States and his parents now live in India and Mr. Das’s family visits them every few years. Tina returns to the car with a doll and Mr. Das questioned her where her mother was by using her (Mrs. Das) first name Mina. Mr. Kapasi thought that it is not the right way to speak to a child. The illness found here is not taking care of her own child because she was not interested in that marriage. Mrs. Das arrived with some puffed rice.
Mr. Das told Kapasi that he is a middle-school teacher and Kapasi told that he had been a tour guide for five years. They all assembled again and started. Tina was playing with the locks in the car and Mrs. Das did not stop her. Mrs. Das sits in the car and had puffed rice. They saw monkeys on the road and Mr. Kapasi told that they are common in these areas Kapasi thought that Mr. and Mrs. Das are like siblings to their children than parents. The other illness is no understanding between them.
Kapasi’s Past Life: Becoming an Interpreter
Kapasi informs Das that he has other job that is the interpreter in a doctor’s office. Mr. and Mrs. Das were eager to listen to Kapasi’s story and Mrs. Das told him to tell about some of his patients. Mr. Kapasi found his job as a failure. At ancient times, he had been a scholar in many languages and now he is fluent only in English language. He started to narrate about his past experience. He joined as an interpreter in that office when his son suffered from typhoid and died at the age of 7 in order to settle the bill in hospital. Since Kapasi is working there, his wife always remains of her son’s death. Mr. Kapasi’s marriage was arranged by their parents and they both had nothing in common.
Travelling to Konark: Sun Temple
When they stopped for lunch, Mrs. Das insisted Kapasi to sit with them. They all took a picture to gather memories Mrs. Das enquired about Kapasi’s address, so that she can send a copy of a picture. He started to day dream the witty things he will write to her and how she will reveal the unhappiness of the marriage. The illness here with Mrs. Das is not taking care of her own child and instead day dreaming. Finally they reached the temple Mrs. Das talks with Kapasi about the paintings. Then they returned back to hotel, Kapasi suggested visiting the nearby monastery. They too agreed for that. When they arrived there, the place was full of monkeys. Kapasi informed that they are not dangerous as long as they are not fed. Mrs. Das stayed in the car, and sat next to Kapasi saying him that her younger son Bobby is the product of an affair which he had eight years ago. She also told that he had not informed anyone. Mrs. Das believed that Mr. Kapasi can help her. Mrs. Das said that she no longer love her husband and also have destructive impulses towards her children. Mr. Kapasi insulted her by asking had she ever felt guilt for this Mrs. Das gets out from the car and joins her family Mrs. Das dropped a trail of puffed rice. Mrs. Das was not able to accept that cultural problem and no understanding between them. These illnesses were noticed by Kapasi.
At that time Mr. Das and children were playing with monkeys. When Mrs. Das rejoined them, Bobby was missing. Due to the carelessness and illness mentioned above this action happened. And finally, Bobby was surrounded by the monkeys because they were crazed by the puffed rice. They were hitting Bobby on legs with a stick, he had given them. Mrs. Das took a picture of it. Mr. Kapasi chased off all the monkeys and saved Bobby back to his family Mrs. Das did first aid on Bobby’s knee. The other main illness seen here is the children activities are not strictly controlled by the parents. Then she took the comb from the handbag and straightened his hair. The paper with Kapasi’s address fluttered away.
- Lahiri, Jhumpa ,The Interpreter Of Maladies, 1999, Houghton Mufflin.