This particular story came by when I was drifting into a slump. Nothing I read interested me. I was about to give up on this story too when the lead character ‘Sara’ caught my attention.
Story begins with one of the protagonists, Hassan, starting a new job at a bank. He finds himself sharing his desk with Hina. Hina is a peculiar Pakistani ‘Hijabi’ woman. She was about seven-eight years younger to Hassan but they were contemporaries when it came to work. Sara has her own principles in life. She is determined to live her life as an ideal Muslim woman and achieve something as well.
Hassan on the other hand never gave any thought to life or career much. Sara, Hassan’s wife was an everyday character that one comes across. She married Hassan and came to Connecticut to realise the big American dream but soon found out that life is not how it is described in movies and photos. Sara intended to study further but she gets carried away with shiny parties and social statuses that everyone loves to boast about.
Sara admired Mona—her impeccable taste, how quickly she connected with other women—but she also sensed that the parties were a kind of audition. For what, she told Hassan, she wasn’t sure.
The couple spoke of the country to their relatives as they knew it through and through cleverly hiding the ‘foreignness’ they felt at their place.
Yes, they said, it was true that a handful of states had the power to determine the winner. Yes, a candidate could win the most votes and still not become President. In that case, Hassan’s mother said, the Americans were even more foolish than she’d thought. At least in Pakistan, she said, they hadn’t chosen their own dictators.
Hassan is often found describing Hina in an awe that is reserved only for those you look up to.
Sara would talk about graduate school for another year and probably not do anything about it. Hina would have been halfway to a degree by now.
Now the couple is back in Pakistan.
Strange how quickly the names and faces are receding—blurring together into one large, homogenous pool.
The story carefully talks about principles in life, the American dream and the determination to make something out of the life.
Read the story for free on The New Yorker.
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