Suleri: the new fragrance for women

Nina Strohminger '04, English 171, Sages and Satirists, Brown University, Autumn 1997

The pages of Sara Suleri's Meatless Days are concerned in large part with notions of kinship and family ties. Suleri, like us all, sometimes expresses confusion and weariness regarding what seem like the inescapable bonds of blood relations:

I missed Tillat's children when they left. There are too many of them, of course--all of my siblings have had too many. Each year I resolve afresh that my quota of aunthood is full, that I no longer am going to clutter my head with new names, new birthdays. But then something happens, like finding in the mail another photograph of a new baby, and against my will they draw me in again. I did not see Ifat's children for four years after she had died, and when Tillat and I visited them in Rawalpindi, in the pink house on the hill, Ayesha, the youngest, whispered to her paternal grandmother, "My aunts smell like my mother." When she repeated that to me, it made me tired and grave. Tillat and I slept for ten hours that night, drowning in a sleep we could not forestall, attempting to waken and then falling back exhausted into another dreamless hour.

Rather despite herself, Suleri is drawn in again and again to new additions to the family, by what seem to be mystical forces beyond her control. Similarly, when she visits with her sister's children, they recognize their mother's familiar scent on Suleri with ease. Why, though, does this cause in Suleri such distubance? She and her her other sister, Tillat, seem troubled by it to the point of insomnia. Is Suleri merely being melodramatic, or is there something truly disturbing about the fact that blood, and sisterhood in particular, is thicker than water? Is there anything that would make this especially so in the context of her narrative?

Main Screen Pakistan Sara Suleri Meatless Days Leading Questions