As girls in Gouripur, Nazneen and Hasina grow up surrounded by the beauty of the natural world. Water buffalo laze in ponds; mynah birds swoop overhead. All is wild and untamed. Nazneen confronts a very different reality as an immigrant wife living in a London housing project. There, pigeons circle the grim and barren estate like criminals in a prison yard. Homesick and, at the beginning of her marriage, largely confined to her apartment, Nazneen is like the pigeons: trapped and directionless. Her unhappiness manifests itself in the form of an imagined snake that climbs her shoulder and hisses in her ear, constantly reminding her of isolation and resentment. Hasina is not as disconnected from nature as is Nazneen, but, as a young woman ensconced in a Dhaka slum and at the mercy of her landlord-turned-rapist, Mr. Chowdhury, she writes to Nazneen that she feels unfairly punished and targeted by an angry God who insists on filling the trees overhead with snakes. The snakes represent Nazneen and Hasina’s attempts to come to terms with the disappointments that color their adult lives. Bird imagery, likewise, hints at the elusive nature of home, whether one is an immigrant in a foreign land or a poor servant surrounded by luxury. Tower Hamlets is Nazneen’s prison. Hence, the circling pigeons. While working for Lovely and James, Hasina sees a kingfisher on the roof and tells him to fly away to find water, but he refuses, staying right where he is as if he’s found paradise, just as Hasina remains in her post as a maid, cleaning a house and tending to children that are not her own. Neither Nazneen or Hasina can go home again. Animal imagery implies the wildness of youth in contrast with the essentially hemmed-in nature of adulthood.
Animals Quotes in Brick Lane
This is what happen and afterward I cry. All the time I thinking my life cursed. God have given me life but he has curse it. He put rocks in my path thorns under feet snakes overhead. Which way I turn any way it is dark. He never light it. If I drink water it turn to mud eat food it poison me. I stretch out my hand it burn and by my side it wither. This is what he plan for me.
Fly way and find some water I tell him. But he do not fly just sit there never stretch the wing and call like as if all his brothers better join there on roof where he find some secret like paradise.
Silent. Nazneen fell asleep on the sofa. She looked out across jade green
rice fields and swam in the cool dark lake. She walked arm-in-arm to school with Hasina and skipped part of the way and fell and they dusted their knees with their hands. And the mynah birds called from the trees, and the goats fretted by, and the big, sad water buffaloes passed like a funeral. And heaven, which was above, was wide and empty and the land stretched out ahead and she could see to the very end of it, where the earth smudged the sky in a dark blue line.