Construction of Home, Nation and Identity in Rohinton Mistry’s Tales from Firozsha Baag
Rohinton Mistry is one of the central figures of the Indian diaspora involved in the task of constructing alternative narratives of national identity. His texts articulate a new conception of the nation by problematising the stable and unitary configurations of national-cultural identity. Mistry’s experience and awareness of the complex tensions of his cultural and geographical location in the diaspora are evident in Tales from Firozsha Baag. Mistry implies that because the Parsi culture is constituted by heteroglossia, there is no such thing as a ‘purely’ Parsi identity. In destabilising notions of a self-enclosed Parsi identity, he goes for inserting the ‘other’ into his Parsi narratives: for instance, Gajra, the Marathi maid, in “Auspicious Occasion”; Francis, the Christian man who does odd-jobs, in “One Sunday”; and Jaakaylee, the Catholic Goan ayah, in “The Ghost of Firozsha Baag”. “Swimming Lessons” is the only story set entirely outside the Parsi area of the Baag and in fact outside India. We move from a closed and homogenous cultural system to finally a transgressive ground where the borders between cultures are so fluid that there can no longer be any stable conception of national essences.
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