No New Land
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Nurdin Lalani and his family, Asian immigrants from Africa, have come to the Toronto suburb of Don Mills only to find that the old world and its values pursue them. A genial orderly at a downtown hospital, he has been accused of sexually assaulting a girl. Although he is innocent, traditional propriety prompts him to question the purity of his own thoughts. Ultimately, his friendship with the enlightened Sushila offers him an alluring freedom from a past that haunts him, a marriage that has become routine, and from the trials of coping with teenage children. Introducing us to a cast of vividly drawn characters within this immigrant community, Vassanji is a keen observer of lives caught between one world and another.
accepted. But somewhere in the ensuing discussion, the conversation took a wrong turn and became – pointless. For one party it showed no direction, no purpose. For the other, it was simply – fun. We also have a God. We have a Pope too. Don’t you know that Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) is predicted in your Bible? What you’ve got, we’ve got too, only more modern. We change with the times. So the invitations ceased, dry muffins and cakes stopped arriving: the proselytizers gave up in
covering up? All existences make me anxious, from the smallest fly to the mysteries of Incarnation.… “It seems,” he told Jamal, “that to become westernized, which is what we’ve opted for by coming here, we have to go back and battle by battle relive all their battles – spiritual struggles. How can you otherwise assimilate generations of experience – only now we’ve reached the Age of Reason.… ” “But isn’t that better, Nanji? Our God is not dead, we are better off – ” “Can we survive here, with
congested with noisy traffic, many of the shops were dingy if not outright disreputable. There was nothing much to see. They sat down at a rather fashionable-looking outdoor café. “This is the life, man,” said Romesh with a sigh. “I could sit here forever, just watching the people go by.” “And life go by, eh?” Sometimes he never knew how to talk to this man. “And life go by, alas.” The waitress was young and pretty, attentive. “Well, what can I do for you gentlemen today.” “Plenty. But for
purpose? Out (the balcony and across the valley his thoughts flew, to her. He had gone early this time to Sushila so he could be there a little longer. As he turned onto her street and approached the market, he saw her take a momentary glance down from the first-floor window and then withdraw. He walked up the ancient wooden stairs at the side of the two-storey building. They made an incredible racket. The door upstairs was unlatched, as he expected, and he walked in. She had gone back into
hips should be covered with a shirt or kurta. I couldn’t find anything else.” “But your mother, I thought I saw her in a blouse, tucked in – ” “Well,” she said, “I guess he thinks – ” “That” – he caught himself and froze his smile. “Now don’t say what you are thinking!” The giggle again, such a delightful giggle, and he laughed his silent laugh. He would never forget that giggle, he thought. In the middle of all the excitement in his home, with the Master’s comings and goings, Nurdin,