The Namesake

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Moushumi Mazoomdar Character Analysis

The Bengali woman who marries Gogol, Moushumi was one of the children present at the many gatherings of Bengali friends in their childhood. She grew up in London, and had a British accent when she and Gogol first met, always preferring her books to the television that the other kids were watching. Their parents set them up after Moushumi breaks off an engagement to Graham just before their wedding. She is a PhD student at NYU during her brief marriage to Gogol, having lived in Paris after college. Moushumi and Gogol share the experience of having a complicated connection to their family and history, which brings them together, but is too limited to support a real relationship. She brings the marriage with Gogol to an end by cheating on him with Dimitri Desjardins.

Moushumi Mazoomdar Quotes in The Namesake

The The Namesake quotes below are all either spoken by Moushumi Mazoomdar or refer to Moushumi Mazoomdar. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Houghton Mifflin edition of The Namesake published in 2003.
Chapter 8 Quotes

It strikes him that there is no term for what they once were to each other. Their parents were friends, not they. She is a family acquaintance but she is not family. Their contact until tonight has been artificial, imposed, something like his relationship to his cousins in India but lacking even the justification of blood ties. Until they’d met tonight, he had never seen her outside the context of her family, or she his. He decides that it is her very familiarity that makes him curious about her, and as he begins to walk west, to the subway, he wonders when he might see her again.

Related Characters: Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli, Moushumi Mazoomdar
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

Here we see the beginning of Gogol’s newest romantic interest after an early encounter with Moushumi. Gogol is now swinging in the opposite direction of his previous relationships, still searching for identity in his romantic life but now looking to connect again with his roots, rather than cut himself off from them as he had with Maxine. This new instinct seems to be a reaction to the death of his father, which was accompanied by a newfound interest in the traditions of his family and an anxiety that he was throwing away a major part of his identity by essentially abandoning his family for Maxine. 

Now, Gogol has done what would have been unthinkable for him at nearly any other point in his life—gone on a blind date arranged by his mother. This arrangement echoes the Indian tradition, and suggests that Gogol is ready now to listen to Ashima, whom he has been so embarrassed of since his teenage years. Moushumi and Gogol are linked by their Indian heritage (and their parents' friendships), but also by their shared heritage as first-generation Americans, who grew up with the same half-executed traditions and the same desire to escape from these remnants of their family's customs. 

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Chapter 9 Quotes

He’d confessed to her that he still felt guilty at times for changing his name, more so now that his father was dead. And she’d assured him that it was understandable, that anyone in his place would have done the same. But now it’s become a joke to her. Suddenly he regrets having ever told Moushumi; he wonders whether she’ll proclaim the story of his father’s accident to the table as well. By morning, half the people in the room will have forgotten. It will be a tiny, odd fact about him, an anecdote, perhaps, for a future dinner party. This is what upsets him most.

Related Characters: Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu), Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli, Moushumi Mazoomdar
Page Number: 244
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, a rift grows between Gogol and Moushumi after she tells the story of his name change (from Gogol to Nikhil) to the room at a dinner party with a set of intellectual friends of hers that he despises. This is an emotional betrayal, from Gogol's perspective, since the story was an intensely private one, with a huge amount of significance for Gogol. Moushumi treats it like a funny aside to her friends, which leaves Gogol with the unshakeable feeling that she misunderstood its importance, or is belittling something that, for him, is a major part of his identity. He had believed that this conflicted relationship to his past and identity confusion was something that Moushumi, as a fellow first-generation American from similar circumstances, would understand. The disappointment and regret that Gogol feels in this moment might extend to his decision to marry Moushumi—it seems clear now that the two of them are different in many ways, and that his reasons for marrying her, in search of a part of his identity he thought he had lost, may not have been sufficient to keep them together.  

Chapter 10 Quotes

She believed that he would be incapable of hurting her as Graham had. After years of clandestine relationships, it felt refreshing to court in a fishbowl, to have the support of her parents from the very start, the inevitability of an unquestioned future, of marriage, drawing them along. And yet the familiarity that had once drawn her to him has begun to keep her at bay. Though she knows it’s not his fault, she can’t help but associate him, at times, with a sense of resignation, with the very life she has resisted, has struggled so mightily to leave behind.

Related Characters: Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli, Moushumi Mazoomdar
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Lahiri begins to follow Moushumi's perspective, and this quote reveals her growing dissatisfaction with Gogol, and the ways in which Moushumi's reasons for marrying him in the first place echo the rebellious, conflicting quest for an identity that Gogol regularly manifests in his own romantic choices. For years, Moushumi made every effort to rebel against the expectation that had been placed on her since she was only a young girl: that she would marry a suitable Indian man. Counterintuitively, it then seems that Moushumi's decision to marry Gogol was in some ways a rebellion against her own rebellious instincts, driven by fear and sadness after she was left on her wedding day by her previous fiance, Graham. Now, though, the lack of danger that had drawn her to Gogol, and his association with a stable identity from her past, is increasingly driving her away again. As Gogol's own relationship choices have shown, identity confusion renders finding meaningful love especially difficult. 

She wonders if she is the only woman in her family ever to have betrayed her husband, to have been unfaithful. This is what upsets her most to admit: that the affair causes her to feel strangely at peace, the complication of it calming her, structuring her day.

Related Characters: Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli, Moushumi Mazoomdar
Page Number: 266
Explanation and Analysis:
In this quote, Moushumi considers her feelings in the wake of an affair that she has struck up with an old flame of hers, Dimitri Desjardins. Oddly enough, this rebellious act—an act of betrayal, essentially—is comfortable for Moushumi, who is becoming faithful again to her own sense of identity as a rebellious, sensual, modern woman. In mourning after her failed wedding, Moushumi had then found Gogol, who was also in mourning, still recovering from the death of his father. For both of them, marriage became a means of trying on an identity they had previously rejected. Moushumi, though, comes to regret her choice, since her identity as an intellectual, cosmopolitan woman feels at odds with Gogol's, or at least with the return to a traditional Indian heritage that he represents for her. Instability and transgression, then, are key parts of Moushumi's identity, and so she returns to them with this affair in a way that feels almost like a homecoming. She is guilty, and thinks of her family's reaction with unease, but is only fueled on by these feelings, since they render her act all the more rebellious. 
Chapter 12 Quotes

It is as if a building he’d been responsible for designing had collapsed for all to see. And yet he can’t really blame her. They had both acted on the same impulse, that was their mistake. They had both sought comfort in each other, in their shared world, perhaps for the sake of novelty, or out of fear that that world was slowly dying. Still, he wonders how he’s arrived at all this… His time with her seems like a permanent part of him that no longer has any relevance, or currency. As if that time were a name he’d ceased to use.

Related Characters: Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli, Moushumi Mazoomdar
Page Number: 284
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Gogol reflects on the end of his marriage to Moushumi. Their relationship collapses finally after he discovers her affair with Dimitri, and ends in a way that is deeply embarrassing for him, since their union had been celebrated so publicly by friends and family. He diagnoses the reasons behind the failure of their marriage here, recognizing that their reasons for marrying were fundamentally flawed; both of them sought stability and identity in the other, without having formed a stable identity for themselves first. It was a relationship built out of fear, nostalgia, and curiosity, rather than true love. Now that part of his life feels strangely and inexplicably distant from Gogol.

By describing this time as if it “were a name he’d ceased to use,” Gogol again underlines the significance of names—the various names that reflect a variety of distinct identities, formed in cooperation with the people who use them. Monu and Mithu, for instance, the Indian familial pet names of Ashoke and Ashima, only exist in the context of those characters' relationships to their families back home. Now that the context of Gogol's relationship to Moushumi has evaporated, their time together has no more meaning, since what meaning it had for him was formed in cooperation with her.

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Moushumi Mazoomdar Character Timeline in The Namesake

The timeline below shows where the character Moushumi Mazoomdar appears in The Namesake. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...young to be with the adults. The closest to his age is a girl named Moushumi, recently arrived from England, but they have nothing in common. She rubs “7 Up”-flavored balm... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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Love and Marriage Theme Icon
...Ashoke’s death. One day Ashima mentions a girl Gogol used to know, a Bengali named Moushumi Mazoomdar, who had broken off an engagement the year before and “could use a friend.”... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
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Moushumi is waiting for him in a bar in the East Village, reading a book in... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...a small French restaurant, where Gogol insists on paying the bill, and then he walks Moushumi home, surprised at how much he is enjoying himself. On the way back to his... (full context)
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In the next few days, Gogol recalls images of Moushumi from years ago that he had forgotten—the books she always brought along to the parties,... (full context)
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...he does, eating approvingly. They talk about her dissertation, and that Christmas party years before. Moushumi tells him that playing the piano was always a fantasy her mother had for her,... (full context)
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They walk out into the cold New York winter. Moushumi sees Gogol shivering, and insists that they go to buy a hat. He enjoys the... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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The next weekend Gogol goes to Moushumi’s apartment for dinner, bringing a bunch of sunflowers. She looks for a place to put... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...they get to know one another, Gogol feels he already knows her life—he can picture Moushumi’s house, the parties, the family dynamics, as if they were his own. They talk of... (full context)
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Moushumi admits that Gogol is exactly the type of man she has avoided all her life.... (full context)
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After graduation Moushumi moved to Paris, despite her parents’ protests, and after years of loneliness fell into a... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...paper. Then one night a few weeks before the wedding, at a dinner with friends, Moushumi heard him discussing their time in Calcutta, complaining about the lack of alcohol, the endless... (full context)
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Moushumi recovered slowly, watching television and movies all day, living in Brooklyn for a time with... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...close to 300 people, taking control of the planning of the wedding themselves. Gogol and Moushumi largely acquiesce as just punishment for having listened to their mothers and having gotten together... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...never spoke until after they were married in a ceremony like this one. Gogol and Moushumi follow the instructions of their Bengali relatives, barely looking at each other through the evening’s... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
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...both unwind in their hotel room afterward, Gogol remembers his engagement proposal. It was on Moushumi’s birthday, at an inn in the country, and he had presented the ring along with... (full context)
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
In March they visit Paris together, where Moushumi is presenting an academic paper. The weather is gray, and Gogol feels acutely the eyes... (full context)
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It is May, and Gogol and Moushumi are at a dinner party in Brooklyn, at the home of Moushumi’s hip friends Astrid... (full context)
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For some reason that Gogol cannot understand, the approval of these people is important to Moushumi, and he has noticed that after these parties she is always slightly depressed when they... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
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...nonsense names—and baby name books are passed around the table. Gogol feels his bond with Moushumi return for a moment, because neither of them will be in these books. He is... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
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Returning downstairs, Gogol finds the name conversation still continuing, and sees that Moushumi is somewhat drunk. Suddenly she announces to the room that Gogol, whom they know as... (full context)
Chapter 10
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
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...this chapter begins, we notice that the narration seems to be taking on more of Moushumi’s perspective, referring to Gogol as Nikhil. Her parents call to wish the couple a happy... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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They’ve both dressed up for dinner, and Moushumi wears the black dress from the first night they made love in her apartment. She... (full context)
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When they finally find the hidden restaurant, it is not what Moushumi had hoped for, and she is distressed by the Bangladeshi bus boys who serve the... (full context)
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A new semester at NYU begins, but Moushumi is officially finished with classes. She is teaching a section of beginning French, and looks... (full context)
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When Moushumi arrives at the department there is an ambulance there, and she is shocked to find... (full context)
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Moushumi had met Dimitri years before, at the end of high school, on a chartered bus... (full context)
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Moushumi returned to Princeton every day afterward, finally finding Dimitri and going on her very first... (full context)
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Now, sitting in her office, Moushumi reads his cover letter and inserts a missing period. She photocopies the résumé and returns... (full context)
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The next week Moushumi calls him. She has reread all of Dimitri’s postcards, telling herself she is reconnecting with... (full context)
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At home, Gogol suspects nothing. Moushumi is worried at first, but their nighttime routine of dinner, television, and then sleep does... (full context)
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After a month of Mondays and Wednesdays, Moushumi begins to escape to Dimitri’s on Fridays as well. She wonders whether she is the... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Gogol wakes up late one morning alone in bed—Moushumi is away at a conference for the weekend, and the heat has malfunctioned, leaving their... (full context)
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As he works, he thinks of Thanksgiving dinner the week before. Gogol and Moushumi had cooked in their apartment, and her parents, Ashima, Sonia, and Sonia’s boyfriend Ben joined... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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Inspired by the idea of planning a trip to Italy, Gogol buys Moushumi a guidebook and begins to walk home, frightened momentarily by a flock of pigeons that... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
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...next year. Ashima looks kindly on this marriage—Ben makes Sonia happy in a way that Moushumi never did with Gogol, a match she still feels guilty for encouraging. They are divorced... (full context)
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Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
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...he has made again and again. It was on the train that he first discovered Moushumi’s affair, when she slipped up and mentioned Dimitri. He had felt the same betrayal as... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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Gogol and Moushumi were then trapped together on the train, and then at the Christmas celebration at his... (full context)