The story revolvesaround the lives of brother Subash Mitra and Udayan Mitra, their choices andtheir fate. Born just a little more than a year apart, they were often mistakenfor each other. But they are opposites, with gravely different futures ahead.
Udayan went to study physics and he became friends with some members of theMarxist students. Soon Udayan in attraction to the movement started cutting classes,visiting slums and even went organizing a strike in his college. Udayan fallsin love with a young girl Gauri and marries her without the consent of hisparents. On the other handSubhash was very cautious from his childhood. He was very close and loved hisparents and often spent most of his time with them. Subhash always accompaniedhis mother while she cooked or embroidered saris and blouse pieces also helpedhis father plant the dahlias that he grew in pots in the courtyard. Subhash wassent to study Chemical Engineering to Jadavpur. Subhash leaves home to pursuehis scientific research in America.
When Subhash migratedto the U.S, he encountered many new things which influenced his lifestyle. Theover – populous India was clearly contrasted with that of sparsely populatedIndia. It was in the Rhode Island Subhash met Holly, the pretty American womenwho was older than him.
Subash was surprised to see Holly living separatelyfrom her husband for many years. Holly was ten years older than Subhash and shehad a son named Joshua. Subhash and Holly started meeting regularly and one dayshe invited him home. Subhash is only aware of the joint family system inIndia, and is shocked when he comes to know that, there is no one to helpHolly, apart from the babysitter who looked after her son Joshua while sheworked. Though her parents were alive, though they live nearby in another partof Rhode Island, they had not come to take care of her. He knew how his brotherUdayan and his wife Gauri lived along with his parents in India.
His shock was furtherextended when he visited Holly on a Friday, where Joshua was not there and hewill join on every Friday with his father. After knowing this he was terrified.Subhash was a little bit hesitant to share bed with Holly, she did not care forany scruples in sexual matters. Subhah had a thought to marry her but gave upthe idea because of her age, her child and Holly being the wife of anotherperson. When Subhash heard thenews of his brother Udayan’s sad demise in a police encounter, he went to Indiato take part in the final rites of his brother. Subhash thought seriously aboutre – setting of Udayan’s wife Gauri. Much against the wishes of his parents, hemarried Gauri and took her to the US to usher her into a new life. In India itis not acceptable to marry a widow, In American scenario it is acceptable.
Onlyin India people use to poke their nose in others affairs, But in America theconcept of privacy is a sacrosanct. No one questioned that Gauri was his wife,or that he was soon to be the father of her child. Gauri after going to Americatransforms herself to an American.
She presents herself as the best example ofacculturation of an immigrant.Gauri totally forgetsher ethnic identity and tries to immense herself into the American culture. Shestarts admiring the American way of dressing and develops a vigorousfascination for it. She in fact starts hating sari, her traditional dress. The yardof silk sari is indeed difficult to hold as she is in her advanced stage ofpregnancy. She liked the way American girls dressing.
She felt uncomfortablewith Indian dresses. Finally she expurgated her saris, petticoats, blouses andswitches to American attire. She is not even bothered about her perturbedhairstyle. She typically changed into an American and she did not discloseeverything to Subhash as normally an Indian wife will do.
Gauri is ablyadjusting and adapting to the new circumstances and becomes acculturated. Tobring out the best example of acculturation in Gauri is when she gives birth toBela (Udayan’s child), she demanded a baby – sitter for Bela like theAmericans. On the other hand Subhash is experiencing a sort of culture shockand struggles to cope with the new environment. Subhash was against her wishand didn’t approve Gauri’s baby – sitter idea as he wanted to bring up thechild in the Indian way – under the care of the parents. Gauri was notcompromised because she imbibed herself into American craze for individualitywhereas Subhash wanted to follow his culture and tradition.Gauri wants to lead aluxury life with all comforts.
She is fully Americanized and she didn’t want tomanage or carry her role as an ideal mother with responsibilities likedaughter, husband and household works. She begins to think that her life willbe more thrilling and enjoyable without her daughter Bela and husband Subhash.Gauri fells that her sexual life with Subhash is unsatisfied and Subhash toofeels the same. She is also frustrated to see Subhash as an outstanding fatherto Bela which causes her discomfort as she knows that, he is not her biologicalfather. Subhash is ready to lead a happy life with Gauri and he insists her tohave another child for Bela’s sake, but Gauri disapproves it.
When Bela isfive, Gauri starts attending her graduate school, leaving all theresponsibility of taking care of Bela. It was Subhash who comes to the rescueof Bela and manages his time to watch Bela. Gauri never had a feel ofcommitment towards her family and begins to pursue a doctorate. In addition tothis she thinks Bela as a burden and always exempts her responsibility severaltimes in taking care of Bela. Gauri also keeps on nagging Subhash to revealBela about Udayan and he agrees to tell her one day.