Symbiotic relationships

In Bye-Bye Blackbird, Adit and Sarah differ from the couples mentioned earlier in several respects. When Sarah marries Adit, an Indian, her personality disintegrates. Though very devoted to Adit, she avoids answering any personal questions and is ashamed of her Indian husband. She suffers from the fear of the unknown and so she prefers solitude. Adit is the very cause of her isolation and alienation. Sarah never protests. Adit takes the decision to return to India as he feels the problem of identity crisis will be solved only through this decision. In seeking his own self, Adit is responsible for the loss of self that his decision implies for Sarah. But there is no loss of identity in the case of Sarah. She is optimistic that at least in India she would have an identity. When Adit explodes, “My son will be born in India,” she is repelled but still swallows it and submits to the household activities. She refuses a promotion in her job in order to accompany her husband to the east. In fact the nature of the relatedness of Sarah and Adit can be described in Eric Fromm’s words:

Both persons involved have lost their integrity and freedom, they live each other and from each other, satisfying their craving for closeness. Yet suffering from the lack of inner strength and self-reliance which would require freedom and independence and further more constantly threatened by the conscious and unconscious hostility which is bound to arise from the symbiotic relationship.  

In the novel ‘In Custody’ Deven is considered to be a ‘boring teacher’ of Hindi at Mirpore who loves Urdu poets. His life on the domestic front is not bright. Marriage with Sarla does not bring him any joy or security. Sarla was not his choice. Sarla, his wife, is a plain, penny-pinching and congenitally pessimistic woman who has been selected by Deven’s aunt as a bride for him for these very virtues. Sarla, on the other hand, as a young girl had the usual aspirations of her girl friends, to marry a rich man. But by marrying into the academic profession and by living in a small town, all her dreams had been rudely swept away. Disappointment had not brought them closer. To live on a lecturer’s salary is an oppressive experience to Sarla. Deven finds himself in a financial mess. Sarla is expecting a child and so he is forced to do a feature on Nur’s poetry in his friend’s journal. Deven takes refuge in urdu poetry whereas Sarla has nothing to sustain her in life. He is an average husband, shouts at his wife and blames her for everything. Though Deven and Sarla have no choice, it has given their marriage a permanent quality of despair:

Although each understood the secret about the other, it did not bring about any closeness of spirit any comradeship, because they also sensed that two victims ought to avoid each other, not yoke together their joint disappointments.   

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