The characters in the Indian film, The Namesake (2006), unfold in front of us as life unfolds. A young Bengali woman finds herself on a journey to New York City in 1979 when her family arranges for her marriage. Her husband, an Indian PhD student studying in New York, is unknown to her, a stranger, but he is kind and together they develop a warm, supportive marriage. Ashima, meaning no boundaries or without limits, seems to play a relatively passive role as she raises her children, their personalities overcoming her own like waves, but she never bows to their own strength. Instead, she bends with it like grass along a river or a reed in the wind.
The film explores the theme common seen in Indian films released in America, the struggle between Indian tradition and American values, old and new, adjustment and preservation but there was more to this storyline by famous female author, Jhumpa Lahiri, than cultural adjustments. The movie was about the inevitable passage of time. Ashima was young at the beginning of the movie. She was at the peak of her youth, instead of coming into her own, however, her traditional society dictated that she marry and become a wife and mother first. They raise their two children, who we see being born, wrestling in the mires of the teenage years, and becoming adults themselves. Ashima’s life completes the circle when she returns to her own self, or as Joseph Campbell puts it, her Bliss.
The silent character in this film is Time. He is with us constantly, changing the dynamics of each scene. Just as I get used to certain characters and scenarios, Time steps in and mixes up the plot. I realized how much I wanted to fight Time, to keep things the same for a while but the characters had more grace about time and change than I did. They flowed admirably with what happened. I realize now that time passage is the only destiny for each of us. Though time passage was the destiny of Ashima, it didn’t reign her in or prevent her from being who she was meant to be.
Allison Frederick is a writer and online marketing educator for other creative women. http://www.famisswomen.com offers free Web 2.0 resources. Her motto is “No Hype. Just Help.” Allison is also the author of an upcoming novel, A Portrait of Josephine, an academic-lite thriller. Find out how to receive a free copy of the novel by visiting http://www.portraitofjosephine.com