Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Short Story Tuesday: The Treatment of Bibi Haldar by Jhumpa Lahiri

"The Treatment of Bibi Haldar"
from Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (Mariner Books, 1999)

Bibi Haldar, age 29, suffers from an unknown ailment that has plagued her all her life. Her family and neighbors have all suggested possible cures, but even the medical professionals are stumped. She lives with an elder cousin in his wife who view her more as a burden than anything else. Bibi longs for a normal life, in particular a husband of her own. Once she sets her mind to it, she tries to do what she can to prepare. Her relatives want no part of it. When her cousin's wife becomes pregnant the wife becomes paranoid that Bibi's condition will harm her unborn baby. While her family pushes her away, Bibi's neighbors are left to carry the brunt.

In the Indian culture, neighbors are much closer or more involved in a person's life than they tend to be in the United States where I was born and raised. It can be both a blessing and a curse. In Bibi's case, it is definitely more of a blessing. They pick up where her family fails her.

The twist at the end of this tale is both bitter and sweet. Lahiri's Bibi is a sympathetic character and the reader cannot help but feel for her. "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar" is another winner in my book.

In short, Bibi's life was an encounter with one fruitless antidote after another.
[pg 159]

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.
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  1. Oh this is one of the stories in the book that I do remember with particular clarity. I loved this story and think that it was probably one of the most moving and thoughtful stories in this collection. Great review! I love that you kept it spoiler free!

  2. I've got to get around to reading this book of short stories. I always enjoy your posts on these stories so much!

  3. I've so been enjoying your reviews of these stories, Wendy. They're making me want to read them again!

  4. This sounds like a great read, though a bit sad. I'll have to check my library for this one. I enjoyed your review!

  5. This was one of my least favorites in the collection ... but even at her worst, Lahiri is amazing.

  6. I enjoyed all of these stories actually. I really need to read her other book of short stories.

  7. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I hate to do these group comments so often lately . . .

    I think I have two more reviews from this collection to go. I'm glad you've enjoyed my reviewing each individual story. I'm not sure whether I'll keep it up with other collections. The jury is still out on that one.


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