And the differences and distances keep coming! This episode and the next are structured differently, instead of cutting back and forth, we are seeing things solely from the perspective of one part of our separated couple, the other half only appearing in brief phone calls. (Little Things review index here)
We got to see Mithila’s mother last season, and she seemed like a very very nice lady. We also know that Mithila is living with her boyfriend in Bombay with their blessing. And that Mithila is a confident ambitious young woman. All of this speaks to loving supportive parents, and now we get to see those parents, and they are indeed loving and supportive.
This episode is about a strange gap time, a bit of a narrative contrivance but not much of one. Dhruv has finished his research time and packed up his temporary rooms and moved out. But instead of going home, he is going to Delhi to help his mother pack up the family home they are selling to pay off the loans, and in the meantime Mithila is going to her hometown a few hours outside of Bombay for her father’s retirement party. There’s no real reason for this, Dhruv could delay going to Delhi two days and attend the party with Mithila, and Mithila could go straight from Nagpur and her parents to Delhi to be with Dhruv. But they are still in that “separated” mindset, it just seems easier to do their own family thing and then unite again in Bombay. It’s a narrative contrivance so that we can see Mithila and Dhruv deal with their families separately, but also a reflection of where they are in their headspace about the relationship at this moment.
Mithila’s parents come first, and they are loving and sweet and delightful. Because Mithila had supportive parents, it also means she has options. Which is a luxury, but can be scary. The show (somewhat tidily) gives Mithila her options represented by her two closest friends from childhood, one we meet and one we just hear about. Friend A meets her when she arrives and is funny and happy and loving. She went to college in Pune, then got a job in Bombay. And now is back home in Nagpur living with her parents, and loves it. Nagpur is pleasant, their favorite ice cream shop hang out is still open and deserted, the streets are clean and empty, the air is fresh. And Mithila’s friend says how happy she is here, how it is cozy feeling, warm, welcoming.
This could be Mithila, she could just give up on Bombay and move home if she wanted, to her loving parents and their nice house and their nice town. It would be easier, full of love, and she wouldn’t have the worry over her parents, over missing time with them, or them getting older without her noticing.
On the other hand, there is her other friend from high school who she never meets but talks about, already had two children, her instagram posts are all about “body after baby”, Mithila and Friend A shake their heads about the clearly empty and sad life this woman has. This could have been Mithila too, she could have gotten married and stayed in her home town. She could still get married any time she wants, a co-worker of her father’s aggressively introduces his son to the family with marriage on his mind.
And instead there is the choice Mithila has made. She is living in Bombay, not at home. And she is in a serious relationship, not married or available for a marriage right now. Dhruv isn’t present in this episode at all, but his impact on Mithila’s life is in so many ways. If he were to no longer be part of her life at all from now on (as he is not in this episode, which is about her and her friends and her parents), her life would still be different because of the changes he made to her. Mithila wasn’t lonely and sad in Bombay they way her friend was, she met Dhruv right away and he made the city warm and happy for her. So she never came home again. And Mithila isn’t single now, or interested in marriage, or even able to see the appeal of marriage, because she had Dhruv instead.
Mithila is single in this episode, a woman working through questions of her own life without considering another person. And in contrast, we get to see her parents who are very much partnered. They fight, and then laugh at Mithila for telling them not to fight, because they aren’t going to stop just because she is home. Her father has to give a speech at work and her mother smiles watching him talk and then looks nervous when he stumbles. Mithila takes them out for sushi and they are delighted and fascinated by the concept and talk it over with each other. They feel like Dhruv and Mithila, but 30 years down the line. Still fighting over small things, still worrying and loving each other all the time, still happy just to be together no matter what they are doing. Here is another choice in front of Mithila, is this going to be her and Dhruv in 30 years? Or is she going to be alone and independent, the way she is right now?
By the way, for those of you not familiar with the landmark references, Nagpur is a big city by global standards, 2 million. It’s growing fast and very wealthy and healthy right now. But it is in the same state as Bombay, so it tends to be overshadowed. That can be a good thing, there is less pollution, less expensive real estate, and so on and so forth. It’s on the farthest corner of the Maharashtra state from Bombay, a very long drive (thanks to traffic) or a short flight, so living in Bombay is keeping Mithila from visiting home. Pune, which Mithila’s friend mentioned as where she went to school, is only a couple hours from Bombay and also in Maharashtra. This episode is telling us that in some ways, Mithila has always lived in a somewhat small circle. She grew up in Nagpur, might have stayed in the same state for college, then moved to Bombay which was both the big exciting city for all of India, and the biggest city in her home state. Just as seeing her with her loving supportive parents and their happy marriage shows us how easy it was for her to start a loving supportive relationship with Dhruv, nothing really outside the box from how she was raised. Mithila hasn’t truly broken off on her own, not like Dhruv.