Homemaking amid the sundarbans: confronting the rural and the idea of home in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide (2004)
Asis De (Mahishadal Raj College)
Maitrayee Misra (Guru Ghasidas Viswavidyalaya (A Central University))
Paper short abstract:
This paper will focus on Ghosh’s representation of different responses to ‘home’ as the spatial dimension of identity in the rural backdrop of the Sundarbans as place of dwelling: the tourist’s, ecologist’s, social worker’s beside the peasant insiders’ religio-cultural and socio-economic space.
Paper long abstract:
Dwelling in a rural landscape corresponds to identity with certain notions of inclusion and exclusion in its homemaking practices. The geo-political boundary of the ‘rural’ includes particular socio-cultural practices and itself being peripheral, remains engaged in a mute mutual conflict with the powerful and hegemonic ‘urban’ identity. This paper considers Amitav Ghosh’s novel The Hungry Tide as case study where the Sundarbans becomes the place of dwelling, and the fictional characters find the idea of ‘home’ as place of origin, as comfort zones, as escape destinations, as space of research and even as space of development. We attempt to show how the ‘insider’ peasants of the place are at home in the land of mangrove and rivers, whereas the ‘outsider’ urban characters find ‘home’ either in Rilke’s poetry, in language spoken at home, in the food-scape, and even in the subject of research and development. The novel ends with a conversation where an American-Indian cetologist observes: “for me, home is where the Orcaella (the river dolphins) are” and she is complemented by an elderly social-worker Indian lady—“For me, home is wherever I can brew a pot of good tea” (HT, 400). This conversation certainly showcases the novelist’s urge to focus on the complex nature of human thoughts around the interrelated ideas of ‘home’ and the ‘self’ in the ‘rural’ canvas of the Sundarbans.
Rural dwellings: various ways of homemaking