Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sartaj's Homeland

In the story entitled “Kama”, there was a significant loss of Sartaj’s homeland. Sartaj was once married to a woman named Megha, and is shown heartbroken when he finds out she wants a divorce and is planning to marry another man. The story does not go into great depth about their relationship, and is more of a sub-story within the investigation of Chetanbhai Patel’s murder. Although it is not the major plot line of the story, it still adds great emotion to the text and causes the reader to sympathize with Sartaj and his situation. The loss of Megha shows how the sense of security and comfort that he once knew was ripped from him, but it is possible that the divorce could have stemmed from his affairs, which puts a new perspective on his problems. For Sartaj, his home in his past was his work as a police officer and his family when they were complete. Family was the extra comfort that he had that he could return to, but it does not seem as though he put enough effort into that when he had it. When he loses Megha, that extra blanket of security and source of happiness that he knows as part of his home is stripped away and despite his efforts, cannot be won back.
Sartaj’s relationship with his ex-wife, Megha is extremely confusing and I sympathized with the longing he had for past times when they reunited in the middle of the story. Sartaj was definitely having difficulty dealing with the loss of Megha and even had trouble signing the divorce paperwork, because it seals the reality of losing the woman he loved forever. This sense of a loss of home was significant to me because I saw the emotions Sartaj felt in his thoughts, dialogue, and actions. When Megha comes over and he begins making tea, memories of their life together wash over him and he becomes overwhelmed with sadness. “…and he felt his heart wrench, kick to the side like a living thing hurt, and he fell to his knees on the dirty floor, held his head between his hands, and wept.” (Chandra, 118). Chandra did an excellent job portraying the image of Sartaj, a grown police officer sobbing on his kitchen floor after trying so hard to keep himself together. This image made me feel sorry for him and I wanted Megha to comfort him and even take him back. As Megha leaves, we see Sartaj completely alone trying to piece together the certainty of his loss. “When she was gone he shut the door, and came back to the sofa, and sat on it, very still. He felt very empty, his mind like a hole, a black yawning in space, and he searched desperately for something to think about.” (125). This is another image that Chandra places in readers’ minds of this grown man that cannot deal with the emotions and sadness of losing this part of his home. With Megha gone, the home he knows as his family life is taken away from him entirely.
This moment of realization that Sartaj has reveals that similar situations happen all over the world. In the United States, we hear about marriages failing and situations similar to this constantly, so it is interesting to see that relationship problems exist almost identically in other countries that we often forget about because they are so far away. Whether or not Sartaj cheated on Megha, it is fascinating to see that despite the fact that setting of the story takes place on the other side of the world, problems with marriages happen with modern times.
When I first considered Sartaj’s relationship troubles, I thought of it as extremely sad and unfortunate. However, when I looked at it closer, I thought of it through an ethical, and even spiritual lens. I am not entirely familiar with the religion that the characters follow, but from my knowledge of Catholicism, both having an affair and divorce are unacceptable actions. It is a little unclear, but from a sentence in the text, it seems as though Sartaj had an affair during their marriage. “When she finds out about him and someone else she cries and leaves for two weeks and three days. Later when he finds out about her, much later, he cannot believe it cannot see it in his head and then wants either to die or kill someone. “ (122) This is the only time that Sartaj’s extramarital affairs are discussed, so I looked through both an ethical and spiritual lens to consider further how although Sartaj’s homeland has fallen apart, it could be his wrongdoing as well. As a reader, I felt sorry for Sartaj, however I could understand why Megha chose to leave him if he was not faithful to her in the first place. This is a controversial topic in religions, so it was interesting to look at it through a spiritual lens and consider whether or not Sartaj and Megha did the right thing based on their personal religious beliefs. This lens illuminates post-colonialism in general with the question of whether or not modern times has something to do with the increased divorce rates. If modern times are considered the dominant idea taking over traditional marital practices, then this topic can be related to our discussion with whether post-colonialism takes away from sacred practices and traditions like marriage. I think I would need more information on Sartaj and Megha’s past and other things that contributed to their divorce, but it would be interesting to learn whether or not modern times dominated the tradition of their marriage.

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