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Metaphor and Diaspora in Contemporary Writing by Jonathan P.A. Sell

By Jonathan P.A. Sell

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186) The novel’s presentation of gender and adult-child relations is far from positive. The effects of fundamentalist religious beliefs on relations between men and women are profound. Thus, Kaukab feels that everything to do with sex is unclean and abhors sexual contact of any kind, 28 Chris Weedon even though she knows that the Koran dictates that she should meet her husband’s needs. Similarly her fear of contamination by ‘unclean’ white people leads her to shun all contact (Werbner, 2004). Her life is governed by questions of cleanliness and contamination to the point where she gets libido suppressing ‘holy salt’ (bromide) from a ‘holy man at the mosque’, for her youngest son Ujala as he reaches puberty.

This allows both for beauty to emerge in the context of deprivation and oppression and for the exploration of differences and continuities between former lives – now lost – in Pakistan and life in England. Natural imagery and description are used both to recall aspects of the lost homeland and to suggest a new sense of place for second-generation children. The novel opens and closes with poetic descriptions of the first snow and the presence of the nearby lake, which is the site of both English and South Asian folklore.

111). The consequence for both parents is estrangement from their children and loss of respect. Apart from to Jugnu, the children have nowhere to turn, caught as they are between Kaukab’s insistence that they conform to her idea of what they should be and by their father’s abandonment of the terrain of child rearing to his wife, while he takes refuge in his work. As in many British South Asian novels, the generational tensions increase as the children grow up and gain greater access to mainstream British life.

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