Professor Meenakshi Mukherjee, who passed away recently, is to me more than a brilliant academic and critic.R.K. Narayan had analysed his own strengths: ‘I have roots in family and religion.’ Meenakshi was probably no believer; but I had sensed all along that she had roots in family and Indian culture. This impression was confirmed by a chapter she sent over a year ago from her memoirs in progress. She calls this chapter ‘Innocents Abroad’: the one theme that lights up her first American sojourn is her personal relationships, of family and friends.
In Pennsylvania where she had done her Masters, family ties proved decisive. Their attachment to India and their family, including the two sets of parents, too was a compelling force. Although they had offers from the U.S., the couple decided to return to India:
Meenakshi had married her own teacher Sujit (‘a professional hazard’, she said later to a friend). Now In ‘Innocents Abroad’ the most vibrant theme is the mutuality of the couple.