November 21, 2014

Brotherly Love

by Jhumpa Lahiri

Brotherly Love is a novella from one of my favorite authors, Jhumpa Lahiri, published in The New Yorker in June last year. I came across the novella while I was searching for a short story to feature over at The Short Story Station last month. While in the end, I decided to use other short stories for the said purpose, I thought I'd read Brotherly Love anyway, and I wasn’t surprised to find that I loved it.

Image from The New Yorker

Brotherly Love is about brothers Subhash and Udayan who live in Calcutta, India with their parents. While Subhash was the quiet, complacent one, Udayan was the opposite: he was a mischievous, frisky little boy who had the penchant to get himself and his older brother into trouble, even defiant to a certain extent. Still, the siblings loved and cherished each other. They grew up in the streets of Calcutta but later in life, their own choices brought them physically and emotionally apart: Subhash continued his studies in the United States while Udayan was left in India and became involved in leftist activities that put his life and his parents in danger.



Despite their differences, I appreciated both brothers tremendously and felt that, through the distance and apparent detachment from each other brought about by differing interests and life choices, they had this immeasurable respect and reverence for each other that can and will never be severed. That bond had been fostered from their early days, during those days when they wandered the dirty streets of Calcutta and had only each other to rely on. And even if Udayan, being the bolder and foolhardier brother, involved himself in rebellious activities, endangering the lives of his loved ones in the process, Subhash, from miles and miles away, tried his best to be there.

As usual with Jhumpa Lahiri’s works, her quiet prose in this novella moved me tremendously. The grandiose and eloquence of her writing is in its simplicity, and I will always love her for it.

Rating: ★★★★★

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