Synopsis: Sera, a widow, is an upper middle class Parsi housewife living in Bombay. After her husband, Feroz’s death, she lives with her daughter Dinaz and her husband. Though she is presently happy with her daughter, her husband, Feroz’s and mother in law’s abuse still haunts her. Bhima is Sera’s housekeeper for years. When Bhima’s underage grand daughter, Maya becomes pregnant, Bhima is fearful for her future.
This book was on my TBR list for a long time and I finally got a chance to read it. I was hooked on from the first page. This is a very well written book. Even though the content isn’t always pleasing, the people and the emotions are so very real. Of the two protagonists, Bhima’s character is of true integrity and strength. She changes and grows as the novel progresses. Despite the hardships she suffered in life and the challenges that she still faces, she is like a rock and has the will to endure more for her loved ones. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself even though she is angry. She feels lucky with her job at Sera’s family and that they treat her like a person.
Sera has had a financially secure life but all isn’t good as it appears on the surface. Her husband, Feroz, was physically and emotionally abusive and she has suffered a lot at the hands of both him and her mother-in-law. Even after Feroz’s death, the past abuse haunts her and she finds comfort in her daughter Dinaz and her husband. Bhima is the only person who is aware of Feroz’s abuse and thus these two share a secret. Although Sera treats Bhima with care and gives her special attention, she is not able to think of her as an equal.
The male characters though written beautifully, do not have any redeeming qualities. Having said this, the women are also imperfect in their decisions and choices yet portrayed authentically. Umrigar has not only explored class differences in this book but the balance of power among cultures and societies. It is an incredible book with real characters and beautiful poignant writing. Highly recommended.
PS: Second book of my South Asian Challenge.