Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Space Between Us

The Space Between Us, a terrific novel by Thrity Umrigar, was published in 2006. Set in Bombay, this is about the balance of power between the rich and the poor, between men and women, and the ultimate unfairness of the difference between a rich man and a poor girl. The language is beautiful and the novel is heartbreaking.

I selected some paragraphs from the first chapter.

Bhima wants to take the sobbing girl to her bosom, to hold and caress her the way she used to when Maya was a child, to forgive her and to ask for her forgiveness. But she can't. If it were just anger that she was feeling, she could've scaled that wall and reached out to her grandchild. But the anger is only the beginning of it. Behind the anger is fear, fear as endless and vast and gray as the Arabian Sea, fear for this stupid, innocent, pregnant girl who stands sobbing before her, and for this unborn baby who will come into the world to a mother who is a child herself and to a grandmother who is old and tired to her very bones, a grandmother who is tired of loss, of loving and losing, who cannot bear the thought of one more loss and of one more person to love.

So she stares numbly at the weeping girl, willing her heart not to take in the arrows of her sobbing. "Even tears are a luxury," she says, but she is unsure if she's spoken out loud or to herself. "I envy you your tears."

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