It was a few years ago that I heard on TV that a Mr. Salman Rushdie had written such a controversial book, that a death threaten had been issued to him. I was quite young and naïve, so that I wondered what on earth could a person write to deserve such a severe punishment.
I knew nothing else about him, as at that time his books were not included in my curricular design. It was then fifteen days ago or so that I came accross one of his short stories.
The Courter is a short story included in his work East, West, which was published in 1994. The story tells about the daily and trivial adventures of an Indian immigrant teenager whose familiy settles in London for some time.
The excuse to bring up the story plot lies in a letter received by the author himself. The letter is fom an old acquintance of him and tells an anectote about a governess who used to live and look after him as well as of his brothers and sisters. The old Indian lady has a very peculiar romance with the house porter and, as she is having difficulties with her English, she says: "courter" instead of "porter".
I found the story both interesting and amusing and I got some more understanding about the difficuclties of immigrant people: language, race discrimination, customs, social status, etc. Even though most situations are shown in a quite humorous style, the real background is one of a deep sadness and homesickness. As a reference for this, at some point in the story, the governess character estates: "God knows for what-all we came over to this country".
Language is one of the main topics in the story, not only because some of the characters are foreigners and they have a peculiar use of language itself, but also because the author analyses the consequences of poor fluency on a man who suffered a stroke and this makes a social outcast of himself.
The whole story is built up in an attempt to establish a chronilogical order as the main character grows up, but in my opinion, he deliberately fails in doing this because there is a great deal of personal feelings and emotions with a mixture of intermigled characters that seem to appear with no logical order as in a puzzle that, as a reader, you have to reorganise.
I strongly recommend everybody to ready the story. It was fun.