Squatter’ is a story from the collection that deals with cultural collisions in a humorous way. Its scatological references are intricately related to the plight of a Parsi immigrant in Canada, for whom the frequent necessity to invent imaginary homelands becomes a ‘pain in the posterior’. It is an immensely engaging story in which issues related to immigration are presented in a very humorous but matter-of-fact manner.
The narrator is Nariman Hansotia, who engages the kids of Firozsha Baag with his interesting stories. His story uses the oral narrative pattern that has been adopted by writers like Salman Rushdie – both as an Indian storytelling device and also as a postmodernist narrative technique. Hansotia’s narrative starts with the story of the valorous Savushka who has an amazing talent as a cricket player and as a hunter, but he fails to succeed in either field as he does not dedicate his life to a single cause.
The storytelling then shifts to the experiences of Sarosh, who migrates to Canada because of the open hostility towards Parsis by fundamentalist outfits in the post-independence India. Like any other Parsi from India, the necessity for Sarosh to construct a homeland for himself amidst transnational spaces makes him go through immigration hardships with dignity.
However, there is something unique about Sarosh’s predicament. Before migrating to Canada, he declared that he would come back to India if he failed to become a true Canadian in every way within ten years’ time. The one thing that makes him feel that he is not yet an authentic Canadian is that he fails to use the water closet. He can empty his bowel only in the squatting position. In a sarcastic tone, the narrator elaborates on how Sarosh develops some sort of a neurosis.
In his own apartment Sarosh squatted barefoot. Elsewhere, if he had to go with his shoes on, he would carefully cover the seat with toilet paper before climbing up […] And if the one outside could receive the fetor of Sarosh’s business wafting through the door, poor unhappy Sarosh too could detect something malodorous in the air: the presence of xenophobia and hostility.
In his desperate attempt to fulfill his own criteria, Sarosh spends more and more time in the toilet trying to master the Western way of emptying one’s bowels:
Each morning he seated himself to push and grunt, grunt and push, squirming and writhing unavailingly on the white plastic oval. Exhausted, he then…