In the movie Mississippi Masala, each character in the movie has a significant place or thing that their heart is clinging to. After Mina family was expelled from Uganda, Jay asserts that his home resides at Uganda. However after his return to Uganda he realizes that the emptiness in his heart could only be filled by the presence of his wife, Kinnu. Demetrius and Mina on the other hand do not have a place that they would call home yet, because in Mississippi the racial difference prevents them from loving each other, and so they are forced to leave their family’s home to find a new home for themselves. However, there are also people such as Kinnu and Okelo, who understand the idea of home lies within their heart, so home refers to the people that they love and treasure and they do whatever they can to support and protect their loved ones.
The reason that Mina’s father was grieving over his homeland was that he could not accept the fact that he could no longer live in Uganda because of his different ethnicity. In the movie, his best friend Okelo said something that hurt Jay’s pride as an Ugandian, “Uganda is for African, black African.” At that moment Jay feels like the racial difference has come between them and in his mind he cannot tolerate the fact that even his best friend would deny his one and only identity, his identity as an Ugandian. This incident left a big scar in Jay’s heart which I believe is because of this Jay is grieving over Uganda. This point can be illustrated through the letters that Mina’s father writes to the Uganda government about his right to live in Uganda. His truthful intention is that he wants to returnto Uganda to convince Okelo that Uganda is his country, his home, and he would do anything to gain his right to live in this country. Therefore immediately after he returns to Uganda, Jay looks for Okelo, instead of going back to his home because he knows that there is nothing left at his home beside the rubbish in the abandoned house. After he has a chance to return to Uganda to recall what he has lost, he realizes that the emptiness in his heart was his wife.
Some characters don’t know where their homes are and where the significance places in their heart are because of the circumstances that force them to live in fixed places. For example Demetrius had to carry a heavy burden on his shoulders which was the responsibility to take care of his old father and ignorant little brother. Therefore the financial burdens of the family were solely carried by Demetrius himself. His family is like the root that restrains him from exploring his own home. Likewise, Mina is too young to understand where she belongs. In her youthful mind she likes to be with her peers and especially her lover, Demetrius. She doesn’t feel an attachment to the Indian community because of its strict traditional culture. American culture has liberated her mind to the point that she thinks that she able to assimilate into African American culture despite the opposition of her family and Demetrius’s family. Mina has to learn a difficult lesson about racism as she goes through a painful time due to her parents forbidding her from loving Demetrius. The love story of Mina and Demetrius completely reverses the interrelation between the Indian and African communities; it changes from hospitality to hostility and from understanding to intolerance. In the end, Mina decides to run away with Demetrius to another place where the people and community will tolerate the difference of Mina and Demetrius so they could be together.
Another different perspective about home is emphasized through the character Okelo in the movie. In his heart, Mina’s family represents his “home” and he does anything he can to protect his “home” from being destroyed. There are two main factors that define the meaning of Okelo’s home. First of all Jay is his best friend and secondly, there is a possibility that Mina might be his daughter. The skin color of Mina is quite dark like Okelo’s skin. In addition, in the movie, there is only one picture that was shown which is the picture of Mina and Okelo. It’s probably points a secret relationship between the two. The reason I think Okelo is Mina’s father because Okelo sacrifices so much to protect Mina’s family; he spends all his money to bail out Jay. He gives up the friendship between him and Jay to save Mina’s family. Okelo purposely says that Jay doesn’t belong to Uganda to provoke Jay’s ego and push him out of this dangerous country, and finally he’s willing to stay back to protect Mina’s family properties and ends up dying under the Amin regime of Uganda.
In the same way, Mina’s mother’s heart is dedicated to her family and the Indian community. She understands that no matter where she lives, her bond to her family is unbreakable and she does everything to keep it strong. Therefore she works as hard as she can to support her family. Furthermore, she supports her husband’s idea of returning to Uganda instead of going against his will because she knows that by returning to his homeland Mina’s father will eventually realize what is really important for him. In this way she hopes that he would treasure the things he has in the present instead of grieving over something that he already lost.
Each character has a significant place physically defined as his or her home, but at the same time he or she has also an individual home in the heart. Love and hope draw them together and help to overcome the obstacle in their paths searching for “home” just like Kinnu constantly supported her husband in his journey of returning “home”. On the other hand Mina and Demetrius were forced to leave their family’s home to find the new home for their love. Finally for Okelo, “home” is defined as Mina’s family, especially his best friend Jay and his possible daughter, Mina. He sacrifices as much as he can to protect it from the Ugandan government.
My Own Country
The friendliness and intimacy of the AIDS patients established a home with trust and love for Dr.Verghese in Johnson City. I will use the idea of “home” to explore the heart of a true doctor. It is true that the AIDS patients came to Dr. Verghese because of his “foreignness” but I think the way Dr. Verghese treated his patient was like a mother taking care of her children. Not only did Dr. Verghese possess expertise and knowledge in treating AIDS, he also has an attitude of hospitality towards his patients despite the fact that they are homosexual. Although Dr. Verghese does not completely understand the situations or circumstances of homosexual AIDS patients, his willingness to learn and sympathize with the desperation of his patients creates a bond of trust between them.
In the book, Dr. Verghese engages the story of his patients. He wants to know the background information of the patients by listening to the stories, journeys, and problems of each patient. This point illustrates the heart of a true doctor; who does not treat the AIDS disease itself, but each patient who has the deadly disease individually. Although all of his patients have similar disease, the causes of their sickness are not necessarily similar. For examples, Gordon caught AIDS while pursuing his own happiness and he took it like a man. Will Johnson was infected with AIDS from a blood transfusion, which is a complete accident by the hospital. However everyone in the community look at AIDS patients as homosexuals and sinners in general. The symptoms, mentality, and health of each patient are all different and so each of them require a different treatment to obtain a maximum efficient according to Dr. Verghese. One interesting point I want to make is that after a long period of time of treating AIDS patients, Dr. Verghese is gradually being “infected” psychologically. He understands the isolation of his patients through his own struggle with society. In the book, Dr. Verghese does not feel like he belongs to any community that he is supposed to be a part of. People in Indian community are looking for the job that would gain the most profit and benefits for them while Dr. Verghese believes that being an infectious disease specialist is a best position right now to save humanity which should be the core value of a true doctor. The same thing happens within the medical community, as Dr. Verghese rages about the greed of a hospital administrator as he wrote, “Sometimes I felt that I was accepted only as long as they needed me, as long as I could be of service to them” (308). And so the common problem that Dr. Verghese and his patients have to deal with in society full of greed draw them together like a real family. In addition, the one interesting thing Dr. Verghese discovers from all of his patients is that despite the fact that they are scattered around America, but when they realize that their life is about to end, they to go back to rest in peace at the place that they were born, a place that they call “home”, Johnson City.
However in this story, the biggest obstacle that prevents Dr. Verghese from fulfilling his role as a true doctor is the responsibility he has with his family. It seems like that Dr. Verghese’s wife does not understand the difficulties that he has to deal with at the hospital. Indeed she worries about her family more than the inspiration that Dr. Verghese feels towards helping with his AIDS patients. I can understand the situation that Dr Verghese’s wife is in, but I wonder if she realizes that moving away from Tennessee would not change the fact that Dr. Verghese would continue work as infectious disease specialist and treat AIDS patients. It doesn’t matter where he live or where he move, the aid patients will come to him for treatment. In additional, Dr. Verghese’s personality would not change either as he would definitely keep his core values of being a doctor who has the responsibility to treat the patients that need his help.
In the book “My Own Country”, Dr. Verghese finally that finds his true home lies with his AIDS patients. The reason that he feels attached to his patients is because he learns many things from his patients including the definition of a “home”. As a great doctor, Dr. Verghese not only succeeds in treating his patients physically, he also considers the psychological factor of his patients. He listens to the story of his patients so he can enter their worlds and understand their feelings.
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