Duality and Hybridity in Condolence Visit

Topics: Culture

‘Duality’ and ‘Hybridity’ are two of the various themes touched upon by Rohinton Mistry in ‘Tales from Firozsha Baag’. Duality essentially means being in twos, and in the stories chosen, the idea of two worlds is put forward in addition to that of dual identities. Hybridity is empowering oneself with another culture i. e. merging of different aspects of language, culture, politics and race within oneself. These two themes have been extensively explored in ‘Condolence Visit’ and ‘Lend me Your Light’.

Duality and hybridity are very much interlinked.

Within duality, there is hybridity. Mistry manages to link the two by the use of characters, symbolism and imagery. He also explores the concept of being “between two worlds”. This may mean the world of the ‘living and dead’ or geographical worlds and ideas. And within these two worlds, there is a certain something that links them and hybridizes them. In this context, Mistry has used such features as characters and symbols to merge the dual worlds.

This concept will be further explored hereon. Mistry explores these issues because they are very personal to him.

They are kind of related to his own life and how he himself has a dual identity. The way Mistry has sketched the characters in the two stories is a clear indication of hybridity in duality. In ‘Condolence Visit’, the concept of ‘two worlds’ is clearly shown; wherein it signifies the world of the living and the dead, or rather, the past and the present. The characters are etched across the two worlds.

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While Minocher is dead and is Daulat’s past, the other characters around Daulat (Najamai, Moti and her two sons) portray the real world, as in the present.

Tales From Firozsha Baag Summary

Essentially, the story is more about how Minocher’s soul is ready to depart from the world of the living to the dead. “Only the bedroom door must remain closed, so the tug-of-war between two worlds, with Minocher’s soul in the middle, would not provide sport for visitors” (Page 64). The ‘tug of war between two worlds’ can be interpreted in both cases – that of Minocher’s and Daulat’s. To the reader, it was more of a struggle for Daulat between the two worlds (past and present) than that of being Minocher’s (although Minocher’s struggle is more explicitly portrayed than Daulat’s).

Daulat seems to be the link between the two worlds; she brings about a sense of hybridity in the duality of the two worlds. She can’t seem to leave the past and is in a stream of consciousness. The events that take place in the present (people visiting her) bother her and she would rather live in Minocher’s memories. In a way, she infuses hybridity in the complex realms of the dual worlds. While Minocher is part of the ‘dead world’ and the other characters of the ‘living’, Daulat herself doesn’t know where she stands. It seems like she is in a mental state which resides in both the past and present.

Thus she acts as a link to the dual worlds, bringing in hybridity. In ‘Lend me Your Light’ too, there is the concept of ‘being in two worlds’, though it is less metaphorical than ‘Condolence Visit’. Herein, duality is more closely related to dual identity. We are shown two extremes of cultural identity. On one hand, there is Jamshed, a larger than life character who leads a very luxurious life, and on the other hand, there is Percy, a flat character who has a very inspirational image, fighting for rights of village people in India. Also, they share different cultural identities.

Jamshed is very Canadian-Indian and always complains about the poor state of his country of origin. In stark contrast to him is Percy, who is a very patriotic Indian and spends his time in villages waging battle against corruption. Although these are two very diverse characters, the one character that is strangled between them is the protagonist, Kersi. The characters of Jamshed and Percy are merely set up as foils for Kersi. Kersi has an unstable mind, and seems quite lost at times. He doesn’t understand whether or not he loves India.

“I, Tiresias, blind and throbbing between two lives, the one in Bombay and the one to come in Toronto… ” (Page 180). This may be interpreted as a metaphor for Kersi being Tiresias, the blind one, who can’t see and things are all grey like the clouds. This is an attempt to shed light in an area where there is darkness. As the story proceeds, we see that he has succeeded in his endeavor and that things have become clearer and more precise. Similar to characterization in ‘Condolence Visit’, in this story too, Kersi’s character brings about hybridity in duality.

He acts as the link between the two characters, not necessarily joining them, but rather sharing parts of their identity. He is also Canadian-Indian like Jamshed, but doesn’t actually agree with all his views towards his home country. But then, he also can’t relate himself completely to Percy too, as the Canadian culture has been integrated in him. Thus, he is a mixture of the two, bringing about hybridity in duality. Another important technique used by Mistry is the use of symbolism and imagery to portray hybridity in duality.

The central image in ‘Condolence Visit’ is that of the oil lamp. It is a physical object in the present that calls upon her memories of the past. According to Parsi belief, the past engages with the present for a period of four days when the lamp is lit i. e. the two worlds merge, which in itself is a sign of hybridity in duality. After the period of four days, the lamp is supposed to be put off and the past (soul) departs to the ‘Next World’. It appears Daulat, subconsciously, wanted the soul of Minocher to stay within and not leave for the ‘Next World’.

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Duality and Hybridity in Condolence Visit. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-condolence-visit/

Duality and Hybridity in Condolence Visit
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