Mr. Pirzada, a scholar from Dacca, comes to Lilia’s family home to dine almost every night. At first, Lilia thinks that the reason for Mr. Pirzada’s regular visits to their home has something to do with her parent’s Indian origin…
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This is because in the small town where they live, neighbors do not come by unannounced and there are hardly any visitors. Her parents, who are of Indian origin, only search for compatriots with familiar Indian names in the university directory. Later, however, she discovers that he purposely comes there to eat dinner and watch the evening news about the Indo-Pakistan war since he does not have a television set in his house. Dacca, then a part of Pakistan, has been invaded by the Pakistan army and torched. At first, the relationship between Mr. Pirzada and Lilia is complicated due to their cultural differences. However, it grows stronger by the day when they start to understand each others culture and perspectives of life (Lahiri 23). This takes place in the autumn of 1971 when Lilia is only ten years of age. Mr. Pirzada’s major interest in the day’s news, as Lilia later understands, is to ascertain whether his family back in Dacca has survived the turmoil of the ongoing civil war. He has constant worry for the safety of his property in Dacca, his wife of twenty years and seven daughters aged between six and sixteen which he left behind (Lahiri 23). Lilia, at first, does not understand Mr. Pirzada’s cultural system. ...
He cannot comprehend why the librarian thanks him even after returning an overdue book, the bank, the cashier at the shop or even the oversees operator. This happens after she thanks him for a gift he brought for her (Lahiri 23). When Lilia found out that their regular visitor was not Indian, she started to observe him closely, ask questions about him and even read books about his part of the world. She does all this in an effort to learn more about him and his cultures in order to understand him better. The relationship between Lilia and Mr. Pirzada is symbolic of the cultural as well as generational difference between the two. It symbolizes a great generational and cultural gap between the two. Lilia does not understand any of Mr. Pirzada’s customs and cultural procedures at all. She was born and raised in Boston in the United States of America whereas Mr. Pirzada comes from Dacca in Pakistan. When she sees him worry about his family in Pakistan, she only prays that all be well with him while in her bedroom instead of telling him directly (Lahiri 23). Lilia views Mr. Pirzada as someone way beyond her generation and therefore she is not able to establish a rapport with him. In fact, spoke to him directly for the first time that night when she was thanking him for the gift he brought her. Mr. Pirzada, on the other hand, does not understand the meaning of the excessively used American “thank you”. This is probably not common where he comes from. As mentioned earlier, Lilia is not accustomed to Mr. Pirzada’s cultures. The following day she has to read a book a book about Asia and Pakistan in an effort to understand him better. In American schools, they learn only American history and geography. Her teacher is not impressed when she finds Lilia
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