What makes a home a home?

In Exit West by Mohsin Hamid the story of Saeed and Nadia’s migration story and how it differs for the two very unalike people. Nadia’s past life experiences, moving to live on her own, being open for moving through door to door despite having to “murder from our lives those we leave behind” (98) allow her to find a home easily. Contrasting from Saeed who once going through the door “wished maybe to reverse course and return through it” (105), creates more difficulty for finding a home rather than a place that he is living. Their distinct ideals and approaches to their journey makes a reader wonder what it takes to make a home a home. Nadia was very open to the idea of leaving her home in hopes of going to a better place. While Saeed was reluctant to leave his father, and to continue going to other doors once they found a livable place. Once moving Saeed often found connections and joy in the people that reminded him of the home that he left behind.

When Saeed and Nadia are in London Saeed prayed with a group of people who instantly brought him comfort, he wished to move there even if it mean losing the home that they currently had.

“‘Why would we want to move?’ she said. ‘To be among our own kind,” Saeed answered. ‘What makes them our kind?’ ‘They’re from our country.’ ‘From the country we used to be from.’ ‘Yes.’ Saeed tried not to sound annoyed. ‘We’ve left that place.’ ‘That doesn’t mean we have no connection.'” (153)

This passage goes to show the difference of a home to Saeed and Nadia, and how a home could have endless definitions. Nadia exemplifies the idea that once you go through a door you “murder” those from your past life. While Saeed often mentions his old home and past life. To Nadia, it seems that a home is a place to live, she does not get emotionally attached to her residences making it easier for her to pick up and leave. For Saeed a home is a place where he finds comfort. Is it possible for Saeed and Nadia to find a place that both can call a home?

The Relationship

In the novel, Exit West, author Mohsin Hamid focuses on the development and change of a relationship between Nadia and Saeed. In the beginning, when they first meet, Nadia and Saeed experience the typical honeymoon phase of their romantic relationship and one expects them to have a great long lasting relationship. But, their relationship is put to the test once they step through a black door.

Right after they completed their first big move and migrated to Mykonos, they experienced their first hiccup. Nadia attempted to kiss Saeed and he “turned his face away angrily” (107). This is just one of many incidents that start to tear Saeed and Nadia farther apart.

They again traveled through a door and found themselves in London. This move increased the tension between them:

… they slept on the slender single bed together without speaking, without touching, or without touching more than the cramped space demanded, for this one night not unlike a couple that was long and unhappily married, a couple that made out of opportunities for joy, misery.

(127)

Yet again, the hardships of migrating can bee seen as it affects Saeed and Nadia’s relationship. They slowly grow apart in this unfamiliar country as Nadia spent time with the Nigerians and Saeed spent time in another house with others from his country (151). Moving to a new area and being surrounded by different people brought out their differences. It showcased Saeed’s desire to reconnect with his culture and find others like him while Nadia’s desire is to leave behind their past and start anew.

However, there is hope in the salvation of their relationship as Mohsin Hamid ends chapter 9 with, yet, another migration, “… both of them were filled with hope, hope that they would be able to rekindle their relationship …” (189). Will Nadia and Saeed be able to salvage their relationship or will they grow apart?