A Love Affair in London by Khushwant Singh
In A Love Affair in London by Khushwant Singh we have the theme of conflict, connection, loneliness and isolation. Taken from his The Portrait of a Lady and Other Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Singh may be exploring the theme of conflict. Kamini has spent some time in prison for a public order offence. Yet she believes she is standing up to Imperialism and her desire for the British to leave India. This may be significant as Singh could be highlighting the conflict that existed at the time prior to India getting independence from Britain. It is also a brave act for Kamini to protest just as it is brave for her to travel to England on her own and continue her studies. She knows nobody and finds it difficult to mix with others. This too may be significant as Singh may be highlighting the clash of cultures that may have existed in London at the time. With Kamini not only looking different to those around her but also thinking differently to them.
There is also a sense that Kamini makes a connection with Robert Smith even if she does not wish to. She can still remember the verse that he underlined in his poetry book which he gave her for her duration in prison. Also when Kamini is in London she wonders if she will bump into Robert. Though she does feel as though this will be highly unlikely. The simple gesture of giving the book to Kamini has left a permanent mark on Kamini’s psyche. One in which she is more grateful for than not. It is as though Robert may have felt that Kamini was living an idealistic type of life and was not fully aware of the consequences of her actions and as such he lightened her load for the duration of her seven days in prison. It may also be a case that Kamini finds it hard to adjust to her environment in London. Nobody is talking to her and she may have second doubts about her stay in London. It is as though Kamini is being forced to grow up very quickly in a strange place. A place in whereby she knows nobody and as such entertains thoughts of getting in touch with the one person she might know, Robert Smith.
If anything Kamini may be lonely following the same pattern every day and doing the same thing every day. There is nothing in her life during her stay in London to connect her with anybody else. Something that may have been the norm for many students like Kamini at the time the story was written. The excitement felt by Kamini while she was on the plane flying over London is not matched by what she finds when she lands in London. Absolutely everything is different to Kamini which can result in a person feeling not only lonely but isolated from the world around them. Which may be the case when it comes to Kamini. Apart from having a desire to contact Robert Smith. Kamini is at a loss as to what to do with her time when she is not in university. It is for this reason that she decides to look at the Queen’s parade pass by. Hoping that the lavishness of the affair will cheer her up. Though this does not necessarily happen when Kamini begins to talk to the lady in front of her.
It is through the lady that that the reader gets an insight into just how cruel the world may be and how lucky Kamini herself might actually be. The lady on the street has lost her boyfriend at D-Day. Something that shocks not only the reader but there is also a sense that Kamini is a little taken aback. Her own problems pale into insignificance when she is talking to the woman. Though it is noticeable that both woman are connected by two different types of conflict. World War II and the plight of India to gain independence from Britain. Despite this Kamini is lost for words. This may be significant as Kamini may for the first time in her life realise that with conflict comes death. Her own protest was more innocent in its demonstration than the theatre of war that was World War II. While Europe tried to unite itself against the Axis forces. India on the other hand was more preoccupied with obtaining independence. Two different parts of the world fighting for different things. With neither possibly being able to identify with the other. Which in many ways mirrors how Kamini feels during her stay in London. She is unable to identify with anybody.