Bharati Mukherjee and Her Sister Mira
Two Ways to Belong highlights the story of Bharati and Mira, the two Indian sisters who moved to America to pursue their education. After securing their degrees, the sisters planned to go back to India to marry the grooms chosen by their father. Accordingly, they uphold similar social and political virtues whilehaving in plans to return to India, but everything changes once they get jobs and marry different individuals in America. It is worth understanding that Mira gets married to an Indian student and maintains her Indian citizenship, while Bharati gets married to an American of Canadian parentage and becomes an American citizen. Despite the changes in their views when they settle in America to work, both Bharati and her sister Mira seem comfortable and happy with their varying citizenry statuses in the country. Thesis: Both Bharati and her sister Mira are true to themselves despite their conflicting positions on identity with Bharati acquiring the American citizenship and Mira maintaining her Indian identity with the desire of going back home after retiring.
Marriage is one of the most difficult decisions for a woman to make, especially if she comes from a conservative culture where parents have to make the ultimate choice of a husband. However, both Bharati and her sister Mira are true to themselves by marrying the partners of their choice. They are true to themselves by going for what would make them happy in their lives without having to necessarily go back to India to get married to husbands of their father’s choosing. In this respect, Mira gets married in 1962 to an Indian student and lives in Detroit. On the other hand, Bharati settles for an American of Canadian parentage. Bharati illustrates this view with the assertion, “We would endure our two years in America, secure our degrees, then return to India to marry the grooms of our father’s choosing”. Nevertheless, this does not happen and is the first step illustrating their truthfulness to themselves. In any other case, if they were not true to themselves, they would have automatically rushed back to India after their two years of study to honor their father’s choice for a marriage partner. Their independent choices were instrumental in highlighting their own maturity and decision to handle such critical matters by themselves. This ensures that they live the kind of lives they desire, and not the lives where their father would have selected marriage partners for them.
More so, the varying positions that Bharati and Mira hold illustrate that both of them are true to themselves in their different capacities. Identity is always one of the most challenging things for individuals, especially young people, to be encountered when they move into a more vibrant society like America. Most individuals find themselves in a dilemma over identity when they move to America because of the numerous benefits they are bound to enjoy in their given capacities. While talking about the question of identity in his TED talk, Hetain Patel points out that individuals need to be free in choosing their identity. They need to be like water, which adjusts to any given form. For instance, Patel says, “Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup. It becomes a cup. You put water in a bottle, it becomes a bottle. This simply means that an individual needs to be flexible in the choice of culture and identity. Thus, both Bharati and her sister Mira choose their own identities freely illustrating their truthfulness to themselves. Mira is true to herself in the sense that she decides to maintain her Indian identity and does not want to acquire the American citizenship. She does not care being viewed as an immigrant as she plans to go back to India once she retires. On the other hand, Bharati is true to herself with her flexibility in terms of changing her identity. Once she gets married to an American, she embraces a new identity that takes her away from the norms of her society. For instance, she says, “By choosing a husband who was not my father’s selection, I was opting for fluidity, self-invention, blue jeans and T-shirts, renouncing 3,000 years (at least) of caste-observant…”. This is an illustration of her new position on identity and the need to move forward in the best ways possible. The most significant thing to note here is that Bharati and Mira are happy with their identities and do not really care what other people think of them. They try to remain true to themselves because of their ability to understand their identities and maintain them in the most effective way. They stick to their lanes without necessarily trying to impress anyone from their family.
Another element illustrating that both Bharati and Mira are true to themselves is the choice to remain committed to work in the U.S. in their different capacities. Bharati chooses to work as an American citizen while Mira,on the other hand, decides to work as an immigrant. The most significant thing is that both girls are happy with their working abilities and do not fear about the way they are viewed in the American society. For instance, Bharati is true to herself because she realizes that she can enjoy the benefits of working as an American employee. In a similar sense, Mira is true to herself because she upholds her position to work as an immigrant despite the limited benefits she is likely to enjoy in the course of her working. She feels irritated when the law relating to the conversion of immigrants into U.S. citizens is passed. She maintains her position by saying, “If America wants to play the manipulative game, I’ll play it too”. This was in reference to America’s law that forced immigrants to change their citizenship with the view of enjoying the different benefits in the employment market. This makes it clear that both of the sisters are true to themselves because of the belief they exude despite their different approaches to survival in the country.
In conclusion, Bharati and Mira, as sisters are true to themselves. As much as they subscribe to different classes of thought when they get to America, both of them remain true to themselves because of what they believe in. Their marriage was a clear stepping stone of their truthfulness. They do not go back to exercises what is required of them back in India. More so, they remain in America with different identities and are proud of them. The sisters are not afraid of being associated with their individual identities because they believe that is what should exactly be done in the course of their living. From the story of the two indian sisters, it is clear that identity plays an instrumental role in the comfort of an individual. One is only able to live comfortably and attain everything in life with an appropriate identity chosen by him or herself. This is what really makes a person true to herself/himself as in the case of Bharati and Mira. Flexibility is also a significant element in obtaining a genuine freedom and enjoyment of one’s identity in the best way possible.