IntroductionThe short story "What I Have Been Doing Lately" was written by Jamaica Kincaid, a renowned writer born in Antigua in 1949. Originally published in 1981 in the Paris Review, it later appeared in Kincaid's debut book, "At the Bottom of the River," released in 1983. The narrative revolves around a young girl who recounts a series of dreamlike experiences, including leaving her house at night, embarking on a nocturnal walk, crossing a body of water, and encountering a peculiar woman who inquires about her recent activities.
Plot SummaryThe story begins with the narrator describing what she has been doing lately. It all starts one night when she hears the doorbell ring while lying in bed. Hastily, she rushes downstairs to answer the door, only to find that no one is there. Undeterred, she decides to venture outside and proceeds to walk northward, barefoot, while observing her surroundings.
Eventually, she reaches a vast expanse of water that poses an obstacle since she lacks both a boat and the ability to swim. However, as time passes, she obtains a boat and successfully rows across the water. Upon reaching the other side, she disembarks and continues her journey along an unknown path, unaware of the duration of her walk.
At one point, when she glances back at the path she traversed, she notices a transformed landscape filled with hills. As she turns her attention forward again, a hole materializes in the ground before her. Curiosity piqued, she decides to explore its depths, repeatedly falling into it. Inside the hole, she encounters unfamiliar writing but is unable to comprehend its meaning. As she plummets, she realizes her discomfort and yearns for the people she left behind. With determination, she wills herself to exit the hole, successfully reemerging at its opening. In an act of command, she instructs the hole to close, and it obediently complies.
Continuing her journey for several days and nights, the narrator experiences neither thirst nor pain, despite covering considerable distance. Eventually, she spots a figure approaching, initially mistaking it for her mother. However, as the person draws nearer, she realizes it is a different woman entirely. When the mysterious woman reaches the narrator, she poses the question of what the narrator has been doing lately.
Instead of providing various possible responses, the narrator chooses to recount everything she has just shared with the reader. Notably, some details remain the same, while others undergo modifications. The story concludes where it began, with the narrator lying in bed as the doorbell rings, creating a cyclical narrative structure.