Interpreter of Maladies


What does the title suggest and how is it linked to boori maa


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In its place in the story cycle, The Treatment of Bibi Haldar harkens back to A Real Durwan. Boori Ma and Bibi Haldar are similar characters – women who exist on the fringes of society and blamed for events beyond their control. Unlike Boori Ma, Bibi is able to find a place for herself in the world after the birth of her baby. Bibi has the benefit of a village of support. Bibi Haldar’s neighbors do not suffer from class resentment and help her more than Boori Ma’s.


Partition as a historical event and as a metaphor is employed by Lahiri. Characters are divided against others and also divided within themselves. Mr. Pirzada and Boori Ma are victims of Partition. Boori Ma is a refugee who may or may not have lost her family and luxurious home in the forced exile of Hindus and Muslims from each other's territories. Her new life is in shambles and she lives on the fringes of society. Boori Ma represents the disastrous effects of the events of 1947. Lilia's reaction to Mr. Pirzada is Lahiri's critique of the skirmish between the two religions. She is unable to see any real difference between Mr. Pirzada and her parents. Her naivete taps into an overarching humanism that Partition erodes. Someone like Miranda, who is neither Indian nor Indian-American, is not immune to such a divide. Though she feels guilty about her tryst with Dev, her desire for him lingers. In Lahiri's fiction, each person is their own continent.