Jhumpa Lahiri's "Hell-Heaven"

My brother and I were born to Indian parents, but raised in the United States. My brother was born in India, but a year and a half after his birth, our Mother brought him on a plane to the United States, where he would meet our Father for the first time.

I never really thought about my experience, or my brother's experience, as particularly "Indian," though I know it must have been. Certainly language is a huge one, but there are many cultural things I'm slowly becoming more aware of. I'm not complaining, mind you, just saying that it was different than any kind of "norm." I never thought about how that deviation from the "norm" was related to my first generation upbringing until I heard Jhumpa Lahiri read the first half of her story, "Hell-Heaven."

Reading the whole thing (printed in the New Yorker) and thinking again about her reading I felt an immediate connection not necessarily to the plot of the story, but to the moods and tones surrounding her characters. Something about the looks the characters share sounds so familiar to me that I immediately attempt to find characters in my life that are the same as these. There must be some kind of mirror that I'm just not seeing.

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