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Chapters 12 - 15
Maya's abortion occurred two months ago. Since then she has been moping about the house and Bhima is very worried about her. Maya became quite angry when she suggested Maya either return to her education or start working again. Bhima blames herself for not knowing how to help Maya.
Bhima tells Maya one night that they are going to walk along the sea. And for the first time in a long time, Bhima sees a sparkle in Maya's eyes. At the beach Maya is happy and talkative. She asks Bhima many questions about the past. Bhima tells Maya about coming to the beach with her husband and children and about a balloon seller who made an impact on Bhima, but many of Maya's other questions bring up troubling memories for Bhima.
Maya wants to hear what it was like in Delhi where she lived with her mother and father when she was little and tells Bhima that she knows her parents died of AIDS. Bhima doesn't talk with Maya about this time. But a little later in the story, she remembers the time she went to Delhi when her daughter and son-in-law were sick and how Maya returned with Bhima to live in Bombay.
Sera attends a party given by long-time friends Aban and Pervez who are celebrating their daughters engagement. Viraf and Dinaz also attend the party. Aban tells her she considers Sera her closest friend which surprises and pleases Sera. Feroz's name comes up a few times because Aban believes Sera misses him dearly, not being aware of what Sera went through with Feroz. Sera realizes at one point during the party that Dinaz knows all about her parents' marriage.
The memory of first time Feroz hit Sera pops into her head when Aban reminds her of a vacation the two couples took together years ago. Sera also recalls the morning years ago when she and Dinaz left Feroz' childhood home and went to stay with Sera's parents, never to live with her mother-in-law, Banu, again.
It's sad to read about all of the troubles and difficulties Bhima has experienced in her life. I thought I would be less understanding of how impatient and angry she gets with Maya, but I'm not. I understand why she is like that. She's felt so much pain, sadness and disappointment in her life and she cannot take much more. Bhima has little or no empathy, understanding or patience left She's had to steel herself against feeling badly or she will simply collapse. But I also feel for Maya. She's young and trying to cope with a life that, in it's own way, has been pretty difficult. It's uplifting when Bhima and Maya get along, talk and tease each other.
I understand Sera better now. Her life may be easier than Bhima's in some ways, but she has many troubles too. She had to give up so much of herself when she married and had children. She sometimes seems even less certain of herself than Bhima is of herself.
Bhima and Sera have burdened themselves with a lot of guilt, but Bihma feels personally responsible for almost everything that's gone wrong in her life. I found this not only astounding, but very disheartening. Maya is her last hope. I think that if Maya's life doesn't turn out really well, Bhima will shrivel up and die on the spot. She's a very strong, resourceful woman but a person can only handle so much.
It's fascinating, as well as troubling, to read about the culture and how different their beliefs are from ours about how and where adults are supposed to live and they way people should be treated. As Sera's mother points out, "What's the point of everyone living together if all it does is cause kit-pit at home? Better to go your own separate ways than always fighting-fighting."