Lisa at Lit and Life
Ti at Book Chatter
Staci at Life In The Thumb
Kathy at Mommy's Reading
Booksync at Books In The City
Bailey at The Window Seat Reader
Mari at Bookworm With A View
Bhima and Maya have been spending their evenings walking along Chowpatty Beach enjoying the sea air and the waves lapping at their feet. The setting reminds Bhima of the early days of her marriage to Gopal and she reminisces to herself of that happy, carefree time. Maya questions Bhima about the Afghani balloon seller Bhima has talked about other times and for whom she has fond memories. Bhima prefers to think of the balloon seller where she met him, at the more sedate Marine Drive where the artistry of his creations were appreciated rather than at chaotic, crowded Chowpatty. Maya, being younger and somewhat educated, speaks aloud her belief the balloon seller would have gone where the business was better. This upsets Bhima who lashes out at Maya. They walk quietly for a short time, Bhima reminiscing further about the balloon man and a time in her marriage when she and Gopal brought their young children to the beach.
Maya interrupts Bhima’s thoughts again, asking her what happened to the balloon seller. Bhima tells Maya she doesn't know because the family stopped visiting the seaside after Gopal's accident . Bhima precedes to tell Maya about that time in her life when Gopal was injured at work and became a different man. It's a troubling story Maya has never heard. Bhima relays the story hoping it will help Maya understand the importance of an education.
Bhima returns home from work one evening anticipating her evening trip to the sea with Maya, but finds her in the corner reading a blue document clutched in her hand. Maya tells Bhima she found the letter while looking for her birth certificate. Gopal left this letter for Bhima to find the day he left his family never to return. Bhima has only heard the contents of the letter one time. Bhima tells Maya to read the letter to her. Maya protests but Bhima insists she hear, for only the second time, the letter that turned her life upside down. Maya is crying by the time she finishes the letter. She has many questions for Maya about Bhima's life after the letter. It's painful for Bhima to relive that time but she answers some of Maya's questions and then declares that it is too late for her to cook dinner. Bhima and Maya decide to go to Chowpatty Beach and have snacks for dinner.
Dinaz, Viraf and Sera are on their way to Chowpatty Beach too, unbeknownst to Bhima and Maya. Dinaz has a craving for bhelpuri. Feroz insisted the best bhelpuri was at Chowpatty Beach. In the car on the way they think and talk about Feroz. And Sera remembers the day Feroz died. At Chowpatty they find the right spot for bhelpuri, choose a booth and order. While they are eating, Dinaz spots Bhima and Maya at another booth and before Viraf or Sera can stop her, Dinaz calls to them, gets Bhima's attention and waves them over.
These chapters fill in a lot of Bhima's life before she was alone and living in the slum with Maya. It's difficult to read about some of the experiences she's been through without feeling some sharp pains for her. She is a very strong, resilient and remarkable woman. I am also better able to understand Bhima's short-tempered behavior towards Maya and her subsequent guilt over her actions. I think there is a lot of fear and worry about Maya's life behind Bhima's behavior. There is anger and frustration at life, at how people treat each other and how they’ve treated Bhima over the years, not to mention her inability to exert control over much of what happens in her life.
It's uplifting to see how much Maya and Bhima love and are coming to understand each other. Sera's love for Dinaz and Viraf is beautiful, too and doesn't regret much of what she went through during her marriage because of Dinaz
I think these chapters highlight how difficult it is to really know a person or to trust someone. We aren’t always able to see how selfish and unpredictable someone can be or may become, particularly when it suits them. This story also shows us that, although education is desired, it doesn’t make a person good and trustworthy. We see a conflict particularly through Maya’s eyes: education is something to be strived for, but at the same time it is the educated who present the least desirable traits. I wonder about Sera and her family because Maya doesn’t seem to like Sera at all. She doesn’t fawn all over Sera and her family as Bhima does and I wonder what’s going on there. Education may be necessary to improve your status in life and to identify manipulators and corruption, but it does not make you a more honest, kinder person. I wonder if this has anything to do with Maya’s hesitation to continue with her education ? I feel tension building in these chapters as if something unpleasant and shocking is coming. It makes it difficult for me to put the book down!