"One Amazing Thing" by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
One Amazing Thing is a story, which brings together nine people from diverse backgrounds at an Indian consulate where they have gone to get visas to travel to India. …
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In addition, there is a young Muslim man named Tariq who is having problems with finding his place in the world after the September 11 attacks have led to his discrimination due to his background. There is also Mr and Mrs Prichett, an older couple who have a strained marriage, a young woman called Uma whose parents live in India, and finally the manager of the visa office named Mangalam and his assistant Malathi. Although they are complete strangers at the beginning of the story, their lives are suddenly brought together when an earthquake occurs and they are trapped in the consulate building, which collapses and leaves some of them wounded. Cameron immediately takes charge of the situation by swiftly treating the injuries of those who have been wounded, ensuring that everybody remains calm, and beginning to make a plan to ensure that they all survive until they are rescued. However, as the conditions begin to worsen, some of this group begins to turn on one another due to the panic that is brought on by these conditions. To prevent any escalation in the conflict among them, Uma suggests that they all share something very amazing that has ever happened in their lives, which they have never shared with anyone. Perhaps the suggestion of hers was motivated by the fact that she was very curious about the people around her as it is stated that “she had always been… interested - quite unnecessarily, some would say - in the secrets of strangers.” (Divakaruni 3). No matter what her intentions are, Uma’s suggestion makes everyone to calm down and when “Cameron switched off both flashlights…Uma sensed a new alertness in her companions, a shrugging off of things they couldn’t control they were ready to listen to one another” (Divakaruni 70). While each of them tells their story, they come to understand each other from very different perspectives from the ones they had of each other in the beginning. There develops a depth of understanding between them which is completely unbiased by their appearance or perceived backgrounds. Previously, they had viewed each other according to stereotype and an example of this was the belief that Cameron’s black skin made him violent just because the stereotype of African Americans is one of violence. Furthermore, others are fearful of Tariq because they think he is a terrorist just because his beard is unkempt. In this story, a sense of urgency is developed through the characters telling stories of the one event that affected their lives. This sense of urgency is brought about due to the uncertainty, which they have about their lives being saved in time before they are drowned by either the flooding water or the lack of supplies to keep them alive. The characters seem to have an attitude of having nothing to lose when they tell their stories as if it is essential that they share these stories about a specific event that happened in their lives before they face their prospective deaths if they are not rescued. They reveal some of their most thoughts concerning these events, as if by telling them to others, it will help prolong their lives for a little while longer, “When had it happened? Looking back, I could not point to one special time and say, There! That is what is amazing. We can change completely and not recognize it….think terrible events have made us into stone. But love slips in like a chisel – and suddenly it is an ax, breaking us into pieces from the inside” (Divakaruni 90). The thing that makes One Amazing Thing a great story is the fact that the author has taken many stories and woven them together to make one story with all the characters in the other stories brought together into one main story. During the first
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