‘Hema and Kaushik’ by Jhumpa Lahiri

This collection is so dear to me, partly because it was one of the first times I read stories in which I met characters with a similar (although not identical) cultural heritage to myself; at times, I felt like they were going through things I had gone through and this feeling was strange, unsettling but also weirdly reassuring. I love the whole book, but ‘Hema and Kaushik’, one of the saddest star-crossed love stories of all time (I would go as far as saying), is the one that haunts me the most. The first time I read it, I was wretched afterwards; tears down my face without even realising. It is almost impossibly beautiful to me. So elegantly written, so brilliantly weaved, as of course it would be by Jhumpa Lahiri. So tragic, yet so contained. Just perfect.

First published in Unaccustomed Earth, Bloomsbury, 2008

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