“We are all migrants through time” (209). This quote in Exit West can serve as an overall theme throughout the story. Whether it is through Saeed and Nadia’s relationship fading away with time or migrants having to accept change with time. There are many examples of this in the book. One example is Nadia, accepting the fact she loved Saeed in some ways, but not in a romantic way. She wasn’t comfortable with the responsibilities and family dynamics that came along with being faithful to Saeed. She was in her head too much and couldn’t accept the change. In the same way, migrants may or may not be able to accept the fact that they have to leave their hometown because it is not safe. In the book’s example of this being, although Saeed and Nadia eventually begin loving in their new relationships, the slow process that is required for them to pull apart from each other reflects how their breakup for a major life change, just as migration did. Coming from this is the fact that humans can never unlove. We can never unlove a human or a place. When a breakup is accepted that doesn’t mean someone is forgotten. That is why Saeed calls Nadia on the second night of their separation to make sure she’s safe. It is also the same reason fifty years later, Nadia returns to her native city to find it restored and renewed. A place or human you once loved will ever be forgotten just as a migrant never forgets their home.
The second example is the old lady from Palo Alto. “The world had moved, and she barely recognized the town that existed outside her property” (207). She loved her “old” home too much to accept the fact that her “old” home has changed. Just as migrants don’t want to accept their change in “homes”.