“This country gave us clean quiet luxury and charged us with nothing but our children” reminisces the mother of Mala and Ronak. And that is how we know her throughout the book. As a mother, wife, grandmother, mother in law and daughter, always through the eyes of another person. As her life draws to a close and her family coops around her, she forms new bonds with her children and husband.
Amit Majmudar’s The Abundance boasts of prolific writing and that comes as no surprise since Amit is a poet first and writer next. The book also nails most of the immigration woes right at the heart. How much should we sacrifice when we choose this immigrant life? This hyphenated life of American Indian, Canadian Indian, British German et al bring many joys and several comforts but what do we lose?
As newlyweds or singles we relish the freedom and opportunity this new land graciously bestows upon us. But as we become parents we quietly confront the nostalgia, culture loss and cling to things that remind us of the comfort of home, which primarily is the FOOD.
It is through food that Amit laces this lovely piece of fiction. Food, which is served with love and affection in the Gujarati family home in Ohio. Recipes, the daughter Mala learns from the mother and in cooking them together, they learn a lot about each other. How different she wanted to become compared to her mother? Yet Mala realizes that she is strikingly similar. No regrets there just simple acceptance. Kitchen is her mother’s sole empire and the familiar crackle of fennel and cinnamon comfort her in a way that no living person can. How had she missed learning this legacy? Why had she not thought of food in the same way as her mother did? Was it too late?
While their entire family gloated amidst doctors, Ronak, her only son chose a career in finance. He was rich and successful, in a way that his father was not proud off. How much weight do we burden our children with before they snap? As they grow they seem to develop a sense of detached attachment. Is it from the lack of role models within the home, as they can learn little from their parents who are themselves struggling in this strange life and stranger land? Better love that is quarrelsome than indifference states his mother. Yet somehow she finally manages to break him. But at what price?
The Abundance explores the tangled ties between generations that are caught in the tentacles of immigrant experiences most poignantly. This bittersweet novel emphasizes the power of cooking and the allure of aromas that last a lifetime. Food that can transcend life, leave us with memories that we cherish and treasure and a book to hold all this dear.
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