Claire: Changes accompany the passage of time in Suleri's Meatless Days. She savors the time she has, but she also recognizes the inevitability of transience. She writes of her "dread of waiting around for change" and responds to her fear, refusing to be a feather "floating around accidental-like on a breeze" (16; Forrest Gump). Instead, she and her sister decide to start "changing for ourselves, before destiny took the time to come our way" (16).
Suleri fights her "dread of waiting" for change, not her dread of change itself. She recognizes the positive growth that can accompany time's passage, including her grandmother's skin healing following a bad burn. Suleri changed her grandmother's dressings after the accident, and notes, "...on more exhilarating days IĠd peel like onion all her bandages away and suddenly discover I was looking down at some literal tenacity and was bemused at all the freshly withered shapes she could create" (15).
Suleri also observes others' responses to time and change. Her friend Mustakori embodies ephemerality of name and cultural identity. She is known as Congo Lise, Mowgli, Fancy Musgrave; her parents, "...Asiatics, claimed origin from the Indian Punjab and Kashmir, via a detour through Hong Kong," but she has moved from East Africa to Dublin to Devon to Kenya to Pakistan (51). In her geographic displacement, she has acquired also a sort of cultural displacement. In her childhood she lived in "places that wrung the Swahili out of her insides"; similarly, when she arrived in Pakistan she "at once fell victim to the vagaries of the city and wanted a vocabulary to do justice to the perfect postcards in her mind" (52; 54).
Suleri and Mustakori remain stoic in the face of displacement. Both accept the inevitability of transience; injuries heal and people move. But how do the characters differ in their response to change? How does Suleri depict Mustakori — as a model for progress and growth, or a rootless and identity-less individual?
Last modified 21 April 2011