‘You Are My Dear Friend’ by Madhuri Vijay

You Are My Dear Friend by Madhuri Vijay, 2020

The magic trick:

Filtering the entire story through the perspective of a character who is struggling to define herself

It’s easy to leave this story feeling like you never really got to know its central character, Geeta, very well at all. Which, you think, is odd, because we are living in her perspective throughout the text.

And it is odd, but of course it’s also the point. We see Geeta have many relationships here. In fact, you could say that she is defined only by those relationships.

As you look back over the story, she finds success or successfully stands out as an individual only when she is among the white British expatriates. She is beloved by the family. We even see her make a pithy, humorous comment that cracks up a room full of white partygoers.

It’s when she is confronted by India and people from different parts of the country that she struggles to find her footing. Or maybe that’s not it at all. Maybe the common threads lie elsewhere, and I’m missing them.

Regardless, it’s a fascinating character and social portrait to analyze.

And that’s quite a trick on Vijay’s part.

The selection:

“Rani!” she said, making an attempt to sound authoritative. “That’s enough! Don’t say such things about your father!”

“He’s not my father,” the girl replied scornfully. “My father went to jail.”

Geeta felt slightly dizzy. “I didn’t know.”

“And you’re not my mother. My mother is a poor woman,” Rani said. She stepped close to Geeta, her chin tilted up, her eyes dark and powerful, albeit with a detached kind of intensity. “You are a rich woman. You can help my mother.”

“What do you mean?”

Rani smiled. She had a million different smiles, and this one was regretful, benevolent, nearly tender. “Where is your jewelry?” she whispered.


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