Essay on Diasporic Experience In Family Life

Diasporic experiences can be extremely challenging and testing at the least, and Akhil Sharma’s life, represented in his novel Family Life, is no exception. The semi-autobiographical novel illustrates the hardships faced by an Indian family after moving to the United States and soon after, almost losing one of their sons to an accident that changed all of their lives. The novel, however, focuses mostly on Ajay, and how his life slowly transforms as we read the story from his perspective. Being a member of the Indian diaspora myself, the empathetic connection between Ajay and myself allowed me to understand and relate to the ever changing relationship between him and his parents, and how that shaped Ajay as a person in his future, for better…

I moved to California after beginning college, and have been living here for almost three years. Although the difficulties I faced are nowhere near the hardships Ajay faces in his novel, I can empathize with many of the experiences he has, specifically those with his parents. Many of the early difficulties Ajay experiences in his school life were relatable. Ajay states “Often, standing in the corner of the asphalt yard, I would think, There has been a mistake. I am not the sort of boy who is pushed around. I am good at cricket. I am good at marbles” (Sharma35). Ajay’s capabilities that were appreciated and held significance back in India held no meaning in a country where cricket and marbles were obsolete activities. Similarly, many of my talents and interests that I brought with me from my home country were not shared by American communities. While I would eagerly wait for a cricket match between Indian and Pakistan, my American friends would not have a clue about the historical rivalry in sports between the two nations. Similar to the distanced relationship Ajay has with his parents, my connection with my parents has been frail due to the fact that they still reside in India, while I study on the other side of the world. They remain busy with their business in India, which often does not give them time to interact with me. The large difference between Ajay and myself would be the feeling of neglect. While Ajay felt that his parents did not give him enough attention and love, I understand that my parents work hard and remain busy for me and my wellbeing. Another empathetic connection I had was not with Ajay but with Birju. A few weeks before beginning college, I had contracted the bacteria that causes Typhoid, and was hospitalized for a few weeks. Similar to Birju’s case, I was helpless and could not aid…