The Boundary

Jhumpa Lahiri translated from Italian by the author

Read time: a minute

Jhumpa Lahiri is an Indian-American and now an Italian. I had read ‘In Other Words’ by the author the year before. I liked the book but I somehow thought it to be lengthy. I always thought she would be more interesting in short stories.

This story was my chance to enjoy her writing. This particular story is about a girl aged 13. She runs a holiday home along with her father in a countryside. She describes the place to be poorly signposted

It’s easy to get lost in these hills; the roads are poorly signposted.

She is a foreigner in the land, and she knows it well. Her life is rather lonely.

I don’t mix easily with others; I don’t look like anyone else.

The girl goes on to describe a family of four who have come to stay in the holiday home. They seem to be genuinely happy. They love the countryside. The children play around, dirty their frocks picking berries and swat flies.

As she describes the family she diverts to describe the life that her own parents had in the city and then they had to leave.

Go back to wherever you came from.

Racial violence comes into picture and it is heartbreaking. Her dad suffers a fatal beating just because he was on a foreign land trying to make a life there.

Ever since, he’s struggled to speak. He garbles his words, as if he were an old man. He’s ashamed to smile, because of his missing teeth. My mother and I understand him, but others don’t. They think, since he’s a foreigner, that he doesn’t speak the language. Sometimes they even think he’s mute.

It is a story of making a life in a country you are not native to. A must-read from Jhumpa Lahiri.

The Boundary is a beautiful story from one of the greatest authors. Read the story for free on The New Yorker.

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH