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Transcript of Squatter
Written by: Rohinton Mistry
By: Sammy Moody
Squatter is a short story. It was written by Rohinton Mistry. The story takes place in India and Toronto. It is a story of an immigrants experience.
This short story is from a book called Tales From Firozshabaag. This book was written in 1987. Rohinton Mistry was an immigrant to Canada himself. He immigrated in 1975 from Mumbai at the age of 23.
Motivation Behind My Choice
Canada is a very multicultural society. Having a better understanding of immigrants experiences through someone who has lived it can hopefully increase my compassion for their experience. I generally like learning about different cultures. That is why I chose to read the, Kite Runner, at the beginning of the course.
The main theme of this story is the struggles of an immigrant and their experiences when moving to a new culture. The author chooses to show us this through the story of, Sarosh. Sarosh moves to Canada feeling well prepared for his new journey, but finds when he gets there that he struggles to fully become westernized. His main struggle is going to the washroom. He is unable to sit like a western person does, he can only squat. This brings him anxiety and causes him to be late for work. Over time this struggle has a very negative impact on his sense of well being. He began to feel like a failure. He felt as if Canadians wanted him to conform to Canadian ways. “And if the one outside could receive the fetor of Sarosh’s business waiting through the door, poor unhappy Sarosh too could detect something malodorous in the air: the presence of xenophobia and hostility.” (Mistry, 163)
Sarosh feels that Canadians would like him to conform. The author also shows this need to conform when he talks about the immigrant aid society. For example, the lady that works there tells them a story about a man who couldn't eat white bread and how important it was for this man to eat white Wonder Bread. “Wonder Bread is a Canadian bread that all happy families eat to be happy in the same way...The ultimate goal is pure white Wonder Bread.” (Mistry, 166) The fact that the author uses white bread is a symbol for being westernized. As much as we Canadians feel that we are a multi cultural society, the author is trying to show us that we still have our biasses. As much as the immigrants feel they need to conform, there is a pressure from Canadians that immigrants need to conform as well. Despite Sarosh’s continued attempts to conform, he was unable to adopt all western norms and felt defeated. When he returns to India, he realizes that a lot has changed there too. He feels he has lost his identity. Not fully Canadian, but not fully Indian any more either.
This story is told through humor. This is a very serious topic but the author chooses to tell it with humor. Sarosh’s predicament is a funny one. Even the solution to his problem is ridiculous and amusing. They want to inset a CNI. A Crapus Non Interrupts. They relate it to being like a garage door opener. Sarosh sums up his experience by saying “...but for me life in the land of milk and honey was just plain in the posterior.” (Mistry, 178) Humor in this case, keeps the reader engaged in the story. It makes the story memorable. Humor also broadens the audience of this story.
Point of View
The story is told from the point of view of Nariman who himself was an immigrant to the west, and has returned to India. He is still influenced by the west. This is shown through his Merdcedes Benz car and Clark Gable mustache. He tells the story as a cautionary tale, as he himself has experienced something similar. He is no longer fully western or fully Indian. He is holding onto a bit of both cultures. It is possible that he is actually telling his own story. He tells this story to a group of boys, some of who are very attracted to western ways.
The author titles the book, Squatter. I think he is using the double meaning of squatter. The literal, being that Sarosh needs to squat to be able to go to the washroom. The other meaning being, “A person who settles on land or occupies property without title, right, or payment of rent.” (1) This could be used to reflect how Sarosh feels he does not fully belong or fit into Canada.
Sarosh’s experience can be related to the experience of Baba from, The Kite Runner. Like Sarosh, Baba was a powerful man in his homeland. When they came to North America they both had a sense of displacement and confusion. They began to loose their sense of identity. Sarosh always gave himself a time limit to fit in and always knew there was a chance he would return. This put pressure on him to conform to western ways. Baba didn't plan on returning, and maybe this is why he felt more comfortable after time in his new home.
What I liked about the story...
This story holds a mirror up to us as Canadians. I like that it made us question that we are not as tolerant as we think we are. Showed us that we don't fully understand the stress that immigrants undergo and the pressure they feel to conform. To read about it from that point of view is an eye opener.
What I didn't like about the story...
I found the opening story that Nariman told the kids lacked purpose in its support of the theme. I wasnt intrigued by the story until he began to tell story of Sarosh.
What Does This Text Tell Us About The Human Experience...
This story really shows us how important a sense of identity is to people. It shows how important it is to embrace all aspects of your identity and to not feel ashamed of ourselves. When we are made hide or be shamed of parts of ourself then we are less then we can be.
Mistry, Rohinton. Swimming Lessons, and Other Stories from Firozsha Baag. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989. Print.
(1) Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2014.