Too Many Questions And Not Enough Trust

This occured to me the very first time I saw The Namesake‘ but laziness and other such things kept me from blogging about it right then. I’ve just finished reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s book. As an aside, it’s a lovely story, the book even better than the already excellent movie.

You know what was the most striking aspect of the story for me? The contrast between the relationships in the two generations.

Ashima (Tabu) and Ashoke (Irfan Khan) meet each other under the scrutiny of their parents eyes. She decides in a few minutes that he is the one for her, because she likes his shoes. Which prompts her to speak confidently in the following conversation,

How will you manage all by yourself in America?

Will he (darted glance at …) not be there with me?

The couple takes off to foreign shores, in those heydays before the the internet, email and affordable ISD. They start a life together based on complete trust in each other, something that is never spoken about but expressed in their everyday actions. 

Like any two human beings, they take time to adjust to each other. When Ashima shrinks Ashoke’s sweater in the dryer and he reprimands her for it, she doesn’t protest but goes away to weep by herself. He stops and soothes her by singing a silly song. There is a sweetness, a gentleness in both of them, encapsulated in that sequence, that touches the viewer.

Gogol (Kal Penn) and Moushumi (Zuleikha Robinson) on the other hand, are a modern day couple. They date in the privacy of a restaurant and their own apartments. They talk, intellectualise and laugh together. We are taken to their bedroom on the night of their wedding. Right after making love, he asks her how many lovers she has had before.

Their relationship is one that a lot of us could probably relate to. The common backgrounds, the yuppie couple lifestyle they lead, the friends-as-well-as-lovers implications. And yet, for all their conversations, their marriage has started off on trust being questioned and ends with it being betrayed.

Do we really know how to relate to each other anymore? Or have we just had so much of freedom (too much of a good thing) that it makes us sick with paranoia now?

I see the gentleness of Ashima and Ashoke’s love in a lot of couples of that generation and the one before them – our parents and grandparents. People who’ve probably never said ‘I love you’ to each other but are completely happy in each other’s company. And I’ve said ‘I love you’ to a lot of people but at the end of a decade of dating, I don’t know a single person I could stand for more than a few days.

I don’t remember any man ever having treated me with as much trust and gentleness as Ashoke treats Ashima. And I also have never trusted any man so unquestioningly.

Maybe we’re just a generation of too many questions and not enough trust.



* I read this book on my flight back from the South trip. And on the cover was written, ‘The greatest journeys are the ones that bring you home.’ I stay hopeful.

10 thoughts on “Too Many Questions And Not Enough Trust

  1. you know its interesting at the brink of relationship, twenty somethings like me, really have this question. Men have always been known to not trust women, and women on the other hand trust men, but in this age, how does it really work out?, hows the new age indian women when it comes to trust her partner. In the age of prenuptial agreement, and pre marriage sexual health certifcation, it looks really important how much do we trust each other in terms of our emotional side, would we for example share a difficulty or a mental crisis we have been having without hesitation?. would you?

  2. I find that women are just as mistrusting of men as men are of women. I hear girls all the time talking about how they are sure their boyfriend is cheating on them, but when asked why they think that all they can say is that it's a “feeling” they get. I feel that this is mostly influenced by prenups and the fact that the culture allows for premarital sex as a normality. I've even begun to notice a pretty worrying trend in modern marital vows where they don't actually promise anything significant. They talk on and on about how much love they have but never promise things like “I'll be with you forever” or “I'll be true to only you.” These vows are really reflective of the attitude that's going around, which is kind of the “I'll be with you as long as it suits me, or as long as I don't find something I think is better.” It's almost saying, “I'll marry you for now, but I don't want to have made a promise I might not keep, so I can have a way out… just in case.” I don't think this invokes trust for either party. What you leave out of something as important as a marital vow is sometimes more important than what you leave in. Also, when there is premarital sex with your partner, or others, there is a certain pressure that comes after—the pressure of being compared. I don't think trust is such a hard thing to obtain, but you have to be worthy of that trust. You have to be completely honest in all aspects of your life. If you are dishonest in the small things, it is harder to be trusted with the bigger things like monogamy. You have to make yourself stop being an individual human being and realize that you are part of him and he is part of you. I don't think you can have a workable and solidly trusting relationship unless you understand that you can no longer work through things on your own.Also I just have to say that trusting is a decision. You have to decide to trust him and he has to decide to trust you. If you don't, you'll begin with mistrust and end badly. No matter what has come before, I think anyone can make a relationship a good and trusting one, if they decide to trust without question.

  3. @ sstauf: That's the (in)famous female intuition speaking! 🙂 Okay, I admit that a lot of women just pass off plain insecurity and jealousy as intuition. Trust, wholly and completely is a definitely the foundation of a good relationship. But it just seems like it's getting harder and harder to trust and be trusted. We are a cynical lot.

  4. No.. I didnt like the book much, coz I realized I dont like Jhumpa Lahiri's style of writing, though I like her stories.But the movie is beautiful!

  5. Nice post. I had read this book many years ago.. even before the movie was being made… Truly enjoyed the book and related to a lot of aspects especially the omniscient style of writing and the divulgence of Gogol’s character and his self-discovery… Despite not being a Bengali, there are so many shades of the Indian culture and some of it we could relate to especially having NRI cousins / relatives… and understanding what really is described is brilliant.To be able to relate to Ashoke and Ashimas relationship and having comparing it with our parents’ is the most wonderful side to it…

    In fact I liked the narration style and the pace of the book so much, that it did inspire me in a way while I was working on my book.

    I’ve read all Jhumpa Lahari’s books and loved all of them, especially this one. (Movie’s good too, but can’t beat the book) my favorite part of the book is the way it ends… the part where Ashoke takes Gogol in the sea near the rocks and asks him to take a mental picture…WoW… your post has made me wanna read it all over again 🙂

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: