Author: Thrity Umrigar
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Price: Rs 350
Genre: Fiction/Indian writing
Rating: 4 out of 5
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From good reads..
Poignant, evocative, and unforgettable, The Space Between Us is an intimate portrait of a distant yet familiar world. Set in modern-day India, it is the story of two compelling and achingly real women: Sera Dubash, an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife whose opulent surroundings hide the shame and disappointment of her abusive marriage, and Bhima, a stoic illiterate hardened by a life of despair and loss, who has worked in the Dubash household for more than twenty years. A powerful and perceptive literary masterwork, author Thrity Umrigar's extraordinary novel demonstrates how the lives of the rich and poor are intrinsically connected yet vastly removed from each other, and how the strong bonds of womanhood are eternally opposed by the divisions of class and culture.
A confession, before I go further., I picked the book for the cover, something about it allured me...Surprises are always welcome isn't!!!! Class difference is a major problem in developing , people set to heavier and hard work do not enjoy the financial benefits they deserve, yet there hasn't been much progress till day...Few years back house maids were a class of people who suffered at the hands of their master and were completely at their kindness and mercy..Though things are quite different now still there are few unfortunate mortals (though I am not suppose to say so) who continue to suffer for keeping their family and children afloat..As I began to read I expected a sad tale of a suffering house maid ..But it turned to be quite different..I liked this quote very much..
"Tomorrow. The word hangs in the air for a moment, both a promise and a threat. Then it floats away like a paper boat, taken from her by the water licking at her ankles"
Sera Dubash and Bhima are the two important characters of the novel..Both the ladies are distinctly apart by their way of life yet stringed together by their journey of life, both have an unhappy marriage.. Sera sufferes physically and mentally tortured by her husband., she is nursed by the kindness of Bhima , she also renders courage to her..Sera also showcases her affection by taking care of Bhima's husband 's medical expenses , also by ensuring a good education for Bhima's grand- daughter...Both have a different lifestyle, Bhima's day starts in the chaos of Bombay's slum fighting for water and to carry out everyday chores of her day, while Sera's life is that of comfort , yet both are unhappy with their respective marriages... Class difference comes alive when Bhima is let to drink water in a separate glass and not allowed to share the seating that she cleans everyday..Bhima fights her way struggling hard to meet her both ends tired and distraught..Her only hope is on her grand-daughter Maya after her daughter and son-in law die of AIDS..Life further gives her a sad turn when Maya gets pregnant and denies to name the person...Urbanised quarters of a country has equal share of good and bad things.. Though some writers may point out to bring out the grayer part lives some writers use it effectively to weave story along...
Through simple writings Umringer has been able to bring out the deeper meanings for instance
"She always imagined that evil played out on a large canvas-wars, concentration camps, gas chambers, the partitionaing of nations. Now she realised that evil had a domestic side, and its very banality protected it from exposure."
Bhima marches high and low to punish the culprit of Maya's pergnancy in her haster she runs for the wrong guy , her remorse after finding out the truth was really disturbing even when the reader guess it earlier..Kudos to Umrigar for avoiding cliches and melodramatic twists and turns ..The characters appear real..Sera and Bhima spit hard truth wide and loud to the readers..Their social hierarchy setting the friendship apart inspite of this bond ...Sera and Bhima are close yet there is an invisible barricade that stops them from being the closest friends..Though the plot seem plain that have been much written and talked much about , its Umrigar's writing that sets this novel apart...
!3th book to South Asian Reading challenge
Two more to go for my new author challenge..