The paper is a comparative study of two novels, Mohsin Hamid’s Moth Smoke, and Bapsi Sidhwa’s The Pakistani Bride. It focuses on two major characters in the novels, Mumtaz Kashmiri in Hamid’s Moth Smoke and Carol in Sidhwa’s The Pakistani Bride. Through a comparison of the two characters, the study points out some important questions which theories of migrancy and hybridity tend to ignore or sideline. It points out that cultural interaction between the developed and the developing nations of the world takes place in a situation of unequal distribution of power. Culture is thus treated as not a privileged space of free interaction but a part of the game of political domination that is being played out in the world of power and politics. The study starts with the general theoretical background as expounded in the workds of Homi Bhabha, and Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin. It sets out the question to be explored through the work of Aijaz Ahmed and describes the rationale for the selection of the novels and characters for the comparative analysis. The study then analyzes the selected characters in detail. The study concludes by pointing out that in the light of the comparative analysis, it is as yet premature to celebrate the coming of an age of free cultural interaction and exchange.
Of Hybridity and Migrancy: Cultural Exchange in the Postcolonial Context
In a globalized cultural space, how do we articulate a distinct identity? Differences of race, ethnicity, and nation have been dismissed as growing out of essentialism. Sexual differences are still debated; however, the direction of the debate is away from sexual essentialism – maleness of the male and femaleness of the female – and towards a genderless identity. Thus we are living in an era where men and women are attributed (at least in theory) equal agency and control over their lives.
All the traditional demarcations of identity have been erased. Theories of hybridity and migrancy have extended a celebratory gesture towards this dissolution of identity in a globalized space. Nations and cultures mix up with each other as never before. According to Homi Bhabha,
America leads to Africa; the nations of Europe and Asia meet in Australia; the margins of the nation displace the centreâ€¦The great Whitmanesque sensorium of America is exchanged for a Warhol blowup, a Kruger installation, or Mapplethorpe’s naked bodies. 
In the words of Ashcroft et al,
The postcolonial world is one in which destructive cultural encounter is changing to an acceptance of difference on equal terms. Both literary theorists and cultural historians are beginning to recognize cross-culturality as the potential termination point of an apparently endless human history of conquest and annihilation justified by the myth of group ‘purity’, and as the basis on which the postcolonial world can be creatively stabilized. 
This celebration of hybridity, however, has to be seen in its full political, economic and cultural context. Leela Gandhi warns, “But if the language of hybridity is to retain any seriously political meaning, it must first concede that for some oppressed peoples, in some circumstances, the fight is simply not over. Hybridity is not the only enlightened response to oppression.”  Since 9/11, immigration policies have become more and more stringent, visa restrictions have been increased, hate crimes in the developed countries have escalated. There is an increasing emphasis on alienness of the migrants among the natives of the developed countries. A Pakistani passport is likely to distinguish you from other fellow travelers by the sheer suspicion and scrutiny it arouses in the immigration officials of the developed countries. Moreover, the cost of travel and residence has also risen. Those who migrate have to pay a hefty price for their travel and stay in the developed countries. Therefore, only the affluent classes can afford the cost of travel and residence in the developed countries. Keeping in mind these realities, Leela Gandhi (Gandhi, 1998) asserts that “we need to ensure that the euphoric utopianism of this discourse [of hybridity] does not degenerate into a premature political amnesia.” 
Aijaz Ahmed also has these realities in mind when he launches a scathing criticism of theories of hybridity and migrancy. According to him,
“The basic idea that informs the notion of cultural hybridity is in itself simple enough, namely that the traffic among modern cultures is now so brisk that one can hardly speak of discrete national cultures that are not fundamentally transformed by that trafficâ€¦The steps that follow this truism are more problematic, however. At two ends of this same argument, this condition of cultural hybridity is said to be (a) specific to the migrant, more pointedly the migrant intellectual, living and working in the Western metropolis; and, at the same time (b) a generalized condition of postmodernity into which all contemporary cultures are now irretrievably ushered – so that the figure of the migrant, especially the migrant (postcolonial) intellectual residing in the metropolis, comes to signify a universal condition of hybridity and is said to be the Subject of a Truth that that individuals living within their national cultures do not possess. 
Towards the end of his paper, Aijaz Ahmed asks a rhetorical question, a question that for the purpose of my paper I take as a genuine question, and seek to answer through a comparative analysis of two characters, Mumtaz Kashmiri and Carol, in two novels by Pakistani writers, Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid, and The Pakistani Bride by Bapsi Sidhwa. According to Aijaz Ahmed “these celebrations of hybridity foreground the unequal relations of cultural power today; rather, intercultural hybridity is presented as a transaction of displaced equals which somehow transcends the profound inequalities engendered by colonialism itself. Into whose culture is one to be hybridized and on whose terms?”  This is the question I seek to answer in my paper.
Both characters under analysis are women, but Mumtaz Kashmiri comes from Pakistan – a Third World country – while Carol comes from America – the foremost of the First World country. Both characters are also migrants – Mumtaz migrates to America, while Carol comes to Pakistan. Both have had some education in the American academy. Both are married to Pakistani men – Mumtaz to Aurangzeb, a westernized Pakistani, and Carol to Farrukh, a typical (read jealous, suspicious, hypocritical) Asiatic, Pakistani. Both marriages break down – Mumtaz’s because Aurangzeb comes to demand a traditional role from her in taking care of their son, and Carol’s because she discovers the truth of the Pakistani/Asian uncivilized and brutal attitude towards women.
Thus both the novels dramatize a contact between Pakistan and America – a Third World and a First World country. The contact however does not bring a cultural exchange; Pakistan gets the worse of the bargain. Mumtaz Kashmiri, the Pakistani woman, goes to America and gets Americanized (read civilized), while Carol comes to Pakistan and not only retains her American cultural values, but also acquires a profound disgust for the Pakistani society. In both the societies it is Pakistani culture and society that is at fault, especially in its attitude towards women. However, this criticism of Pakistani society is made through a comparison with American cultural values, which also represent ‘modernity’ and ‘civilization’. Interestingly, the two novels seem to offer the familiar colonial discourse of the barbaric and uncivilized natives, the white man’s (woman’s in the two novels) burden, and the need for modernization of Pakistan. The following analysis of the two characters brings this out more elaborately.
Mumtaz Kashmiri – Hybridization par excellence
Mumtaz Kashmiri is a Pakistani born who goes to America to study. Interestingly, her life before the stay in America is never described in the book, even called by herself as unimportant to know for to understand her story:
Where to begin? Certainly before Muazzam [her son] was born. Definitely before I got married. Before I went to America? Hmm. No. We haven’t the time to go that far back just now. 
The kind of woman she was before the trip is difficult to gather from the novel. Her life in America is described very vividly by Mumtaz herself. It is a life not only of fun and frolic, of dance and drink, but also of a great deal of learning:
I remember arriving in the city for the first time, passing with my parents through the first world club’s bouncers at Immigration, getting into a massive cab that didn’t have a moment to waste, and falling in love as soon as we shot onto the bridge and I saw Manhattan rise up through the looks of parental terror reflected in the window. I lost my virginity in New York twice (the second one had wanted to believe he was the first one so badly). I had my mind blown open by the combination of a liberal arts education and a drug-popping international crowd. I became tough. I had fun. I learned so much. 
This is the birth of the hybrid and the migrant. She loses her virginity or purity of her culture twice, once through the liberal arts education and the other through mingling with the drug-popping crowd. The last clinching sentences of the passage sum it up well. She has become tough, no longer the modest, earth-gazing Oriental woman, which perhaps she never was. She has had fun, drink, dance and drugs, and she has learned so much – a liberal arts education. This is the type of migrant celebrated in postcolonial criticism. The voyage to the centre is the voyage away from home and from the culture of home. A hybrid is one who accepts and imbibes the Western values and cultures. According to Leela Gandhi “The West remains the privileged meeting ground for all ostensibly cross-cultural conversations.”  Back home, Mumtaz continues to live out her Western ways. A Pakistani-American become an American-Pakistani.
Reading Moth Smoke, one will be surprised to find that all characters, situations, and themes seem to have been taken from an American underworld movie. Sex, dance and drugs characterize this atmosphere. This world is the world of the elite of Pakistan. The feudal lords, bureaucrats and upper levels of the military make up this class. Whether Mumtaz belongs to this group of people before her wedding to Aurangzeb, or joins it after her marriage is not clear from the novel, which significantly doesn’t describe her life prior to her sojourn in the US. The liberating experience of liberal arts education, and a liberal and promiscuous culture does seem to have come to her as a revelation.
What part does the ‘liberal arts education’ play in hybridizing Mumtaz? A look at the curriculum of the liberal arts education gives such subjects as Human Sexual Behavior, Introduction to Women’s Studies, Issues in Feminism, Women and Social Action, etc. Going through such courses does ‘open up’ one’s mind to issues one would never have thought about while living in a conservative culture like that of Pakistan. However, more than studying specific subjects, it is the idea that any subject can be studied by anyone, without any restriction of age, gender or culture, that seems to be ‘liberating’. Therefore, the liberal arts education acts as a site of initiation into the ‘postmodern’ culture of limitless choices. It is not surprising that she sees her vocation in writing. Many Pakistani English writers are women living in the US.
Arif Dirlik  has connected the acceptance of postcolonial criticism in the American academy with the appearance of the postcolonial intellectuals in America. However, his ‘postcolonial intellectuals’ are intellectuals prior to the entry into the American academy. There is on the other hand a group of ‘intellectuals’ who acquire their ‘intellectuality’ only after they have been a part of the American academy. The great value and welcome given to foreign degree holders in Pakistani academies is proof of this ‘acquired’ intellectuality. University education from America or any of the First World nations, including Australia, is evidence enough of a person’s credentials as an intellectual. The opinions of these foreign educated individuals are given great weight in Pakistani universities in particular, and in Pakistani society in general. After her return to Pakistan, Mumtaz Kashmiri’s transformation into Zulfikar Manto, a writer whose writings are greatly admired or hated but never ignored, is facilitated by her American education.
After her return to Pakistan, Mumtaz starts writing under the pseudonym of Zulfikar Manto. The choice of this particular name reveals her perception of her self-identity and the mission that such an identity confers. The reason for choosing this name, as she tells Darashikoh is that Zulfikar is the name of a sword, while Manto is the name of a South Asian author notorious for dealing with sexual issues:
“Why Zulfikar Manto?” I [Darashikoh] ask her.
“Manto was my favourite short story writer.”
“And he wrote about prostitutes, alcohol, sex, Lahore’s underbelly.”
“That you should have guessed: Manto’s pen was his sword. So: Zulfikar.” 
She doesn’t seem to be aware that Zulfikar was the sword of Hazrat Ali RA, and therefore, the name carries a strong religious flavour. The name is, therefore, a strange hybrid, combining religion and liberalism. However, as we get to see in the novel, Mumtaz’s writings have hardly anything to do with religion. The only use of the sword is in slashing down the chains of suppression and hypocrisy that have bound the society of Pakistan. This change of name suggests that in Pakistan, one is inhibited by the norms of the culture, and therefore one has to construct a false identity for oneself. Paradoxically, one has more chance of being his/her own self in this false identity than in his/her real identity. As Zulfikar Manto, Mumtaz fulfills all her needs that cannot be fulfilled while she acts as Mumtaz.
How does Mumtaz see her role as Zulfikar Manto? She conceives her role as one of the ‘enlightenment missionary’ as described by Ian Almond. This enlightenment missionary, in the words of Almond, is a “Western-educated protagonist who finds himself [or herself], to his [or her] dismay, surrounded on all sides by a sea of ignorance and superstition he [or she] at once deplores and yet is intimately familiar with â€¦.” Almond explores the character of these missionaries on the basis of these questions:
How do such enlightenment figures operate in the postcolonial contexts? What do they understand as their project, and how does it change their relationship to their parent culture? What kind of hybrid, schizophrenic self becomes necessary for them to continue using both vocabularies? And most importantly, what kind of indigenous subjectivities do such moments of enlightenment fervour produce? 
Zulfikar Manto’s writings tell us how Mumtaz sees her role in her ‘home country’. “I wrote about things,” Mumtaz tells us, “people didn’t want seen, and my writing was noticed.” When Darashikoh asks him why she was fascinated with [Saadat Hasan] Manto’s subject matter, she replies, “Finding I don’t quite fit into what’s expected. I’m interested in things women do that aren’t spoken about. Manto’s stories let me breathe. They make me feel like less of a monster.” However, anyone familiar with the works of Saadat Hasan Manto, and Ismat Chughtai will at once notice the difference between their works and that of Mumtaz/Zulfikar Manto. The stories of Manto and Chughtai are stories of human beings driven by their most primal instincts. There is a genuine desire in their works to bring out the most essential human passions and desires, and to give voice to the marginalized classes in the Indian society. Manto’s interest in the prostitutes is certainly not pornographic, it is rather humanistic. The prostitutes are treated as human beings with feeling and sentiments, and not as the devilish temptresses of honest and pious men.
Zulfikar Manto’s works are scandalous. His interviews of prostitutes, and stories of abduction of girls, rapes and other crimes against women are not intended as a social criticism of the Pakistani culture. Instead, they are merely provocative, aimed at arousing hatred and offence among the readers. Mumtaz exults in the kind of reaction her writings arouse in the readers. Between her work and that of the real Manto, the difference is between that of journalism – and some very bad journalism that thrives on sensational stories and scandals – and art. While the real Manto treats sex as a part of human life, Zulfikar Manto treats sex as a scandal.
Theorists of hybridity also assert that a hybrid/migrant is gifted with a ‘double perspective’. In the words of Rushdie, the migrant writers “are at one and the same time insiders and outsiders in this society. This stereoscopic vision is perhaps what we can offer in place of ‘whole sight’.”  Thus, the migrant, hybrid writer has a better understanding of both the First and the Third World cultures, than any of the inhabitants of just one of these cultures may possess. In Mumtaz Kashmiri’s case, there doesn’t seem to be any double perspective. Her focus on the atrocities committed against women in Pakistan is not driven by any desire for social action. There is no genuine interest that she has in the lives of these women she writes about. In fact, her own status as the ‘elite’ in Pakistani society keeps her at a distance from the women she writes about. Thus, in writing about the suffering of Pakistani women, she makes the same error that Mohanty has identified in her essay, “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourse”  . According to Mohanty, feminist scholars derive their values from Western culture, and have a very superficial understanding of the lives of the women of the Third World culture. This lack of understanding limits their understanding of the status of women in Third World cultures, and why atrocities are committed against them. (Full quotation from Mohanty’s essay is given later). The double vision that Rushdie attributes to migrants and hybrids grows out of a commitment to the home culture – a genuine regard for the suffering of the home people – and an appreciation of the adopted culture. Though Mumtaz shows great appreciation of the adopted culture, she lacks the commitment to her home culture, the commitment that the real Manto had.
Thus Mumtaz sees her role as that of the enlightenment missionary, trying to spread awareness of things people ignore. In doing so, she has to maintain a dual identity, and that is what causes the trauma in her life. On one hand, she is required to play the role of a wife and a mother in the traditional manner, a role she finds herself unfit to play. Much though she tries to love her son, she never succeeds. Finally, she abandons this role. It is however, in her role as the enlightenment missionary that she finds fulfillment. As Zulfikar Manto she finds a way of expressing her ‘self’. Therefore, the schizophrenic, hybrid self that Almond has pointed out destroys her relationship with her husband and son.
Thus Mumtaz Kashmiri becomes Zulfikar Manto after her return from America. The need to construct a new identity suggests the alienating impact of her sojourn in America. Having been initiated in the cult of modernism, she is no longer fit for the Pakistani society. This is the impact of hybridization.
Carol – Failed Hybridity
The story of Carol in Sidhwa’s The Pakistani Bride is that of another migrant. However, her movement is away from the centre and towards the periphery. She marries a Pakistani because she likes the way he behaves towards her. Farrukh, her husband, is very possessive and jealous towards her, and she basks in the light of his attention. She travels to Pakistan and settles in Lahore. It is here that she realizes that “what she had thought was a unique attraction for Farrukh had in fact been her fascination with the exotic â€¦.” Despite living in Lahore with Farrukh’s family, she retains her Americanness, the values and traditions of the West, which include a disregard for any superficial restraints upon ‘natural’ instincts – sexual instincts to be more exact.
Dressed in close fitting trousers and half-sleeve shirts, she is an object of fantasy for Pakistani men, who lose no opportunity of ogling at her. This migrant does not undergo any enlightenment of the sort Mumtaz goes through in the US. All that she discovers about Pakistani culture is the ‘atmosphere of suppressed sexuality’:
Slowly Carol had begun to realize that even among her friends, where wives did not wear burkhas or live in special women’s quarters, the general separation of the sexes bred and atmosphere of sensuality. The people seemed to absorb it from the air they breathed. This sensuality charged every encounter no matter how trivial. 
In this kind of atmosphere, Carol had found herself losing her ‘American values’: “It had corroded her innocence, stripped her, layer by layer, of civilized American niceties. She was frightened to see a part of herself change into a hideously vulgar person.” However, she does enjoy the privileged position she has courtesy of her being an American:
One of the pleasant surprises of her marriage to Farrukh was her very special status. As an American married to a Pakistani she was allowed much more freedom than a Pakistani wife. She could say things and get away with behaviour and dress that would have been shocking in a Pakistani – and even in an American. Cut loose from the constraints of her own culture, she did not feel restricted by the new. 
But her encounter with the native girl Zaitoon finally makes her decide to go back to her home.
She does make an effort to adopt herself to Pakistani culture. She tries to restrain her frankness with men, even with her husband’s friends: “God knows Carol had tried to modify her behaviour. She had conformed as well as anyone brought up to be free and easy with men could! – she thought, reflecting on the advances she had resisted, at first casually, then with increasing strain.” She even fantasizes marrying Sakhi, the Kohistani husband of Zaitoon. She dreams:
â€¦ He would think her so special â€¦ For his sake she would win over all the men and women and children of his village. In the remote reaches of his magnificent mountains, she would enlighten a clan of savages and cavemen. She would be their wise, beloved goddess, ministering Aspro and diarrhea pillsâ€¦She would champion their causes and focus the benign glare of American academia upon these beautiful people, so pitifully concealed from the world by a fold in the earth. 
How much this fantasy retains the Orientalist and colonial vocabulary is evident from this interior monologue.
This attempted hybridization, very appropriately given the name of a fantasy, a dream brings only disillusionment. The author has already warned us before Carol comes across a woman’s chopped off head in the river: “But Carol, a child of the bright Californian sun and surf, could no more understand the beguiling twilight world of veils and women’s quarters than Zaitoon could comprehend her independent life in America.” Her discovery of a tribal woman’s chopped off head swimming in the river shocks her into the impossibility of the realization of her fantasy. Disillusioned, she finally realizes the ‘otherness’ of Pakistan and Pakistani people, particularly Pakistani women, even those ‘hybridized’ women ‘with British accents’, who ‘wore jeans from the US and tops from Paris, and whose children studied in Eton or Harvard: “She had related to them right away: and suddenly their amiable eyes flashed a mysterious quality that drew her into an incomprehensible world of sadness opulence of ancient wisdom and sensuality and crueltyâ€¦”
Initially she had felt a bond between herself and Zaitoon, a Pakistani woman, because of their common identities as women: “In the instant their eyes met, the green and black of their irises fused in an age old communion – an understanding they shared of their vulnerabilities as women. For an intuitive instant Carol felt herself submerged in the helpless drift of Zaitoon’s life.” However, after her discovery of the floating head, she thinks herself and Pakistani women as poles apart: “A branch of Eve had parted some way in time from hers”. Finally, she is disgusted with her fantasy for the tribesman. She now thinks in the familiar vocabulary of the colonial immigrant: ancient and modern. The Pakistani civilization and people were too ancient for her American modernity. She could “study them, observe every detail of their life, maybe even understand them, but become one of them, never! She wasn’t programmed to fit. She’d need an inherited memory of ancient rites, taboos and responses: inherited immunities, a different set of genes”. With this realization, she is ready to go home, and tells Farrukh: “Your civilization is too ancientâ€¦too differentâ€¦and it has ways that can hurt meâ€¦really hurt meâ€¦I’m going home.”
A very important issue in this context is raised by Mohanty in her paper “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourse”. According to Mohanty,
â€¦ assumptions of privilege and ethnocentric universality, on the one hand, and inadequate self-consciousness about the effect of Western scholarship on the other, characterize a sizable extent of Western feminist work on women in the third world. An analysis of ‘sexual difference’ in the form of a cross-culturally singular, monolithic notion of patriarchy or male dominance leads to the construction of a similarly reductive and homogenous notion of what I call the ‘third world difference’ – that stable, ahistorical something that apparently oppresses most if not all the women in these countries. 
Carol’s assessment of Pakistani society, particularly the sexual norms are coloured by her Western upbringing. When she looks at Pakistani women, she can’t help borrowing from Western feminist scholarship, as pointed out by Mohanty above. In Mohanty’s words, such approaches have a tendency to ‘colonize’ the Third World women through Western feminist discourse.
It is interesting to note the use of a whole range of colonial vocabulary in Carol’s contact with the Pakistani people and culture. Her marriage to Farrukh and migration to Pakistan is based on her pleasure in the exotic. Pakistan is the land of fantasy and desire. In Carol’s encounter with Pakistan, her ‘gaze’ is given much prominence. It is the familiar gaze of the colonizer, who observes, records, and transforms a culture and people into knowledge. The first time we meet Carol, she is “exploring the Himalayas”, with her “green eyes conveying their excitement at the sight of the mountains and stream hurtling by in its urgency to connect with the Indus.” In Lahore, she ‘stared at the artisans making gold and silver jewellery” and feels “spellbound by the swirl of colour and texture.” However, her gaze is returned with twice the strength from Pakistani men, and with added malice from the tribesmen. Her sight arouses ogling among Pakistani men because of her dressing and the way she carries herself casually. However, the horror that she feels in the returned gaze is just a reflection of her own sexuality which she admires in the eyes of the ‘civilzed’ Pakistani men, including the major (‘She knew the direction of the major’s eyes and was warmed by an exultant female confidence”), but hates in the eyes of the tribesmen. The following passage brings this out more elaborately:
Now looking into Mushtaq’s raffish eyes, she felt light headedâ€¦She wanted to revel in the appreciativeness of his stare. But she knew better. Earthy and brazen, the men here expected subtlety from women. She had already responded too much.
Besides they were too exposed to the curious stares of the tribals filing across the steep track overlooking the lawn.
Carol’s face hardened. Three tribesmen had stopped on the track looking down at her. The held the ragged ends of their turbans between their teeth, and their eyes examined her insolently. 
The major tries to explain their behaviour to Carol. These tribesmen have profound respect for their own women (who religiously observe the veil), but “let them spy an outsider and they go berserk in an orgy of sight seeing!” It is as an outsider that she sees the tribesmen, and it is an outsider that they watch her. There is “orgy of sight seeing” on both sides.
The major’s explanation in this episode brings out another fact: conditions of cultural exchange are carefully controlled in the contact between a First World and a Third World country, when this interaction takes place in a Third World country. The First World tourists in search of the exotic rarely get to see the true picture of the culture of the country they tour. Their residence is heavily guarded and carefully separated from the general population of the Third World country. Recently, with the spate of bombings at tourist resorts in Muslim countries, the tourist industry has suffered huge losses. At best, these tourists get a chance to ‘gaze’ at the culture of the people whose country they tour. Cultural participation and exchange are never involved. If at all any interaction of the First World culture takes place with the Third World culture in a Third World country, it is with the affluent, westernized, foreign educated class of people.
This is what happens with Carol. The major tells her,
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