Fear, and desperation

“It was as safe of a moment as Abdul was going to get. He bolted for the trash shed and closed the door behind him. Inside was carbon-black, frantic with rats, and yet relieving. His storeroom- 120 square feet, piled high to a leaky roof with the things in this world Abdul knew how to handle. Empty water and whiskey bottles, mildewed newspapers, used tampon applicators, wadded aluminum foil, umbrellas stripped to the ribs by monsoons, broken shoe-laces, yellowed Q-tips, snarled cassette tape, torn plastic casings that once held imitation Barbies. Somewhere in the darkness, there was a Berbee or Barbie itself, maimed in one of the experiments to which children who had many toys seemed to subject those toys no longer favored. Abdul had become expert, over the years, at minimizing distraction. He placed all such dolls in his trash pile tits-down” (xi). Even though this passage is from the introduction of the novel, Beyond the Beautiful Forevers, I believe that it helps to explain the complexities of Abdul Husain. Two major themes are expressed in this scene, Fear, and desperation. Fear is an important theme that is constant throughout the novel. Abdul deals with a variety of fears. His most basic and primal fear that he faces is not being able to provide for his family. Abdul’s family is very poor, and they rely on him to run the families trash collecting business. The pressure that Abdul is under is immense.

Abdul’s father is too weak to work, and his brother is distracted by school work. Without any support from his family, Abdul has to collect, sort, and sell trash in order to keep his family thriving. As a result of this Sisyphean task, Abdul is constantly working to provide for his crippled family, and lives in a stressed environment. Moreover, The Husain’s have been blamed for the murder of the one legged woman. With his family facing economic and legal troubles Abdul lives in fear, and anxiety. The passage, “It was as safe of a moment as Abdul was going to get”, shows the level of fear and insecurity that Abdul lives in. The passage shows that the safest area for Abdul is hidden in his mounds of trash, in a rat filled shed.

The second theme expressed in this scene is desperation. The Husain’s make their living by buying and selling recyclable material. This way of life is unforgiving and labor intensive. Not only does Abdul have to scan the slum for trash and negotiate with trash dealers, he has to work by himself and make enough money to support his family. Abdul’s trash shed illustrates his utter desperation in his quest to acquire sellable trash. The horrible conditions that Abdul exposes himself to every day show how desperate he is to support his family and himself.