All too soon they are apart for the winter holidays and Gogol thinks of Ruth

All too soon they are apart for the winter holidays

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All too soon they are apart for the winter holidays, and Gogol thinks of Ruth con- stantly. She had invited him to her house in Maine, but if he went he would have to tell his parents about Ruth, which he is not prepared to do. He cannot imagine her in his home, where he is still known as Gogol. They spend one day together in Cambridge, wandering Harvard Square, kissing, and exchanging gifts. They even look at the first house where the Gangulis lived in America. By the next year Gogol ’s parents know about Ruth , but they are not interested in meeting her. Sonia , who has her own secret boyfriend, is the only member of the fam- ily who goes to see her one day in New Haven. Gogol is angered by his parents’ disap-
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proval, pitying them for having never been young and in love as he is. That spring Ruth takes a semester abroad in Oxford, and he feels lost, longing for her as his par- ents once longed for their families. One day Gogol attends a panel discussion about Indian novels written in English, since one of the panel members, Amit , is a distant cousin, and Ashima insists he go. The discussion centers on “ABCDs,” or “American-born confused deshis” (meaning Indi- ans), and the audience is filled with the type—a group that Gogol has avoided at school, along with the questions of identity and conflict that the term implies. After the discussion, he must remind his cousin that his name is Nikhil now, not Gogol. For Thanksgiving of senior year, Gogol takes the train up to Boston alone. Although he and Ruth spent the first few days after her delayed return together, when they re- turned to campus they broke up, and now they avoid each other. On Gogol’s journey, the train suddenly slows, the lights dimmed as the conductor runs between the cab- ins. Later Gogol is shaken to discover there was a suicide on the track. He arrives at the station in his hometown late, where Ashoke has been waiting nervously for three hours, thinking of his own accident. In the driveway before they enter the house, Ashoke decides to tell Gogol about that accident, and the true origins of his name. His son is stunned, and feels lied to, almost betrayed. He apologizes, asking whether his name still reminds his father of that night. After a moment of silence, Ashoke responds, telling him that Gogol reminds him of everything good that came after. Chapter Six It is 1994, and Gogol lives in New York now, having just graduated from the architec- ture program at Columbia. He works for a successful architecture firm and lives in a small studio in Morningside Heights, the first apartment he has ever had to himself.
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His parents are distressed by his small paycheck, and they occasionally send him money in the mail. They had hoped he would go to M.I.T., but he didn’t want to go back to Massachusetts and be in their world. Gogol had visited New York while at Yale, and once with his parents to visit Bengali friends in Queens, although they did not visit any landmarks at the time. One night a draftsman from his firm, Evan , invites Gogol to a party. Gogol assumes it will be a large, anonymous affair, but when they ar-
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