Love is a strong and beautiful emotion, and everybody learns to love from the moment they step into the world. Before people can love, they must feel emotionally attached to that person or thing around them. When two people become emotionally connected, they care for and accept each other no matter what. Emotional connections require people to communicate and express their feelings. It takes effort and time for individuals to be emotionally connected. Individuals must trust the other person not to hurt them emotionally, and they need to spend quality time with each other. In the book, Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri signifies the ideas of communications and connections in a relationship by showing the difficulties of the characters’ lives that lack emotional connections. The protagonists in the short stories “Interpreter of Maladies” and “Treatment of Bibi Haldar ” struggle due to their loveless lives.
Humans need to have emotional connections because they need to feel love and appreciation from others around them. Without these connections, people will fail to keep any relationships because they will not truly understand each other. In “Treatment of Bibi Haldar,” Lahiri suggests that people cannot live their life to the fullest without someone or something they are emotionally connected with. Bibi Haldar, the protagonist, suffers an ailment with no cure. She has followed many pieces of advices given by the townspeople, but the ailment never gets better. Others might believe that Bibi’s illness is caused by viruses or by a genetic disorder. However, a rhetorical question, “Is it wrong to envy you, all brides and mothers, busy with lives and cares” (Lahiri 160), shows the readers how Bibi is jealous of other women who have a husband and children. Her ailment is not a physical illness but a mental one, which results from her yearning for love.
Unlike those women, Bibi is always alone because she has no one other than her cousin, who does not care for her or spend enough quality time with her. This led the characters to think that the only cure to her disease is marriage. In addition, Bibi does not have the ability to socialize with other people; therefore, it is hard for her to be emotionally connected with someone. The wives use a simile, “Frowning like a rice pot will get you nowhere” (Lahiri 165), to teach Bibi that body language and facial expression affect how Bibi communicates with her friends or with strangers. Because the community fears that Bibi’s sickness will be transmitted to them, they choose not to interact with her as much as possible. Anyone can argue that no man likes Bibi because she is not as pretty as the other women in town. Despite that, it is requisite for Bibi to learn how to communicate and express herself, rather than worrying about being pretty because physical attraction does not last as long as emotional connections.
Everyone gets older, and their beauty will fade away, unlike emotional connections that will stay with the person forever. Besides that, Lahiri’s message is delivered to the readers after Bibi gives birth to her baby, and she is cured of her mental sickness. She finally has someone to love and someone that will love her. Even though humans always want to feel love and want to be with the person they love, many people end up in a loveless relationship. In “Interpreter of Maladies,” Lahiri focuses on flawed relationships and the difficulty of communication. She conveys to the readers that without emotional connections, people can misinterpret a situation, leading to disappointment because they do not fully understand each other. The protagonist, Mr. Kapasi, craves attention and love from other ladies because he does not have a good relationship with his wife. Lahiri reveals his obnoxiousness by saying, “When Mr. Kapasi thought once again about how she had said “romantic” the feeling of intoxication grew” (Lahiri 53). Intoxication symbolizes the lust that Mr. Kapasi has toward Mrs. Das.
The readers might think that Mr. Kapasi has a commitment issue, so he flirts with every woman he meets. However, Mr. Kapasi and Mrs. Das never show any sign of interest toward each other until Mrs. Das compliments him on his doctor’s interpreter job. Because Mr. Kapasi’s wife does not appreciate his job and Mrs. Das does not seem to have a romantic relationship with her husband, Mr. Kapasi assumes that Mrs. Das likes him. Lahiri can put the readers in the same position as Mr. Kapasi by believing that Mrs. Das is attracted to Mr. Kapasi. However, he is too blind to see that Mrs. Das is interested in his job only because she wants him to help her with her affair secret. Ironically, Mr. Kapasi has trouble communicating with another; although, he works as an interpreter. Furthermore, Lahiri uses a sad tone at the end of the story to indicate that Mr. Kapasi has realized that his assumption about Mrs. Das is wrong, “The slip of paper with Mr. Kapasi’s address on it fluttered away in the wind…No one but Mr. Kapasi noticed” (Lahiri 69).
The slip of paper symbolizes Mr. Kapasi’s hope of having a real relationship with true emotional connections with Mrs. Das. His hope flies away because he learns that Mrs. Das is only interested in his ability to interpret people’s maladies. The readers and Mr. Kapasi realizes at the same time that his own lust blinds him. Lahiri shows how no one is there for him by saying that only he can see the slip of paper going away. He is dragged into a big disappointment because he cannot connect and communicate with Mrs. Das. The misinterpretation would not have occurred if Mr. Kapasi’s wife gave him more love and attention. He only wishes for someone he can be emotionally connected with.
In conclusion, Lahiri has shown the readers that emotional connection is a big part of human life. Both characters in Interpreter of Maladies suffer emotional pain because love and appreciation are missing from their lives. Many people, without the understanding of emotional connection, approach love by getting into relationships. Most of these relationships are not healthy and stable because the relationships lack true emotional connections. Emotional connections are critical because they tie people to their surroundings and make people feel complete, knowing that there will always be someone who will love and understand them.