The life of an immigrant is full of sorrow and despair. Immigrants suffer multiple losses including family members, valuables, and homes. In Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Nadia and Saeed are faced with the life of an immigrant which shows the reader all the things immigrants have to go through.
Nadia wears a black robe to keep men out from attacking her but sometimes the robe would do no good. On the street, the day before Nadia’s shrooms arrived, there was a burly man at the red light of a deserted late-night intersection who turned to Nadia and greeted her, and when she ignored him, began to swear at her, saying only a whore would drive a motorcycle, didn’t she know it was obscene for a woman to straddle a bike in that way, had she ever seen anyone else doing it, who did she think she was, and swearing with such ferocity that she thought he might attack her, as she stood her ground, looking at him, visor down, heart pounding, but with her grip firm on clutch and throttle, her hands ready to speed her away, surely faster than he could follow on his tired-looking scooter, until he shook his head and drove off with a shout, (Hamid 42) Nadia later has to take out all her savings in her bank but there was a crowd in the bank that had the same idea as she did. “There in the unruly crowd, she was groped from behind, someone pushing his hand down her buttocks and between her legs, and trying to penetrate her with his finger.”(Hamid 63) Saeed’s mother was killed with a stray heavy-caliber round passing through the windshield of her family’s car and taking with it a quarter of Saeed’s mother’s head. (Hamid 74) While all of this is happening in their hometown Nadia and Saeed decide to leave their homes for a better life but were unable to convince Saeed’s father to go for he wanted to stay with his now dead wife. Saeed’s father’s last wish was for Nadia to stay with Saeed until Saeed is in the clear and if possible to get married but that’s up to them to decide.
The first place Saeed and Nadia migrate to was the Greek island of Mykonos island which was full of foreigners. At first glance, this island was not that bad. It had tents for the immigrants and the weather wasn’t all that bad. “The camp was in some ways like a trading post in an old-time gold rush, and much was for sale or barter, from sweaters to mobile phones to antibiotics too, quietly, sex and drugs, and there were families with an eye on the future and gangs of young men.” (Hamid 106) However, not everything is good on the island. It was getting dark when they saw four men in the distance, approaching along the beach. Nadia said they should go, and Saeed agreed, and the couple walked away, quickly, but the men seemed to follow, and Saeed and Nadia increased their pace, increased it as much as they could manage, even though Nadia slipped and cut her arm on the rocks. The men were gaining on them, and Saeed and Nadia began to wonder aloud what of their things they could leave behind, to lighten the load, or as an offering that might sate their pursuers. (Hamid 116) Saeed believed that perhaps those men just wanted the rod which made both Saeed and Nadia at a little more ease. Not after the attack on the island, Nadia and Saeed leave the island with the help of a nineteen-year-old health clinic volunteer.
Both Saeed and Nadia later find themselves in a bedroom with a view of London’s city skyline which is the place the migrated to. With a bedroom and an actual room, both Nadia and Saeed believe they are safe, but they are both wrongs for London has random riots at night. “Saeed was looking at his phone when they heard shouting up ahead and saw people running, and they realized that their street was under attack by a nativist mob, Palace Gardens Terrace being roiled in a way that belied its name. The mob looked to Nadia like a strange and violent tribe, intent on their destruction, some armed with iron bars or knives, and she and Saeed turned and ran, but could not escape. Nadia’s eye was bruised and would soon swell shut and Saeed’s lip was split and kept bleeding down his chin and onto his jacket, and in their terror they each gripped with all their might a hand of the other to avoid being separated, but they were merely knocked down, like many others, and on that evening of riots across their part of London only three lives were lost.” (Hamid 134) Later on, in that scene, both Nadia and Saeed are laying together on a single sized bed which left both of them with no room and while facing one another they realized that the only thing they have in this world is each other. With Nadia’s swollen eye and Saeed’s split lip, they were left laughing and decided to start the day off without getting into an argument. However the riots are not the only bad thing that happened in the mansion for the power get shut off causing murders, rapes, and assaults to take place. After a couple of days pass, a raid takes place which forces Nadia and Saeed to take cover in their room. After a while passes the word goes out that two hundred immigrants have been burned alive in a cinema that the authorities of London torched. Later however the authorities and nativists would give up the attacks and restore power to the mansion because they figure that the immigrants would continue coming.
Saeed soon learns from a cousin that his father has passed away. With that being said both Nadia and Saeed go to work nearly every day which in a way helps them to not think about it. Saeed soon finds a new girl who loves more than Nadia and the same goes for Nadia. They later officially break up but meet each other a year later in their now burned homeland. People nowadays think all immigrants are bad people but if a person is an immigrant, it’s most likely because they have no other choice. Imagine people losing their job, house, and family – living off of almonds and always being on the run just because they need to live another day. That’s the life of an immigrant, to risk everything just to be somewhere they can call home.
Hamid, Mohsin. Exit West.