Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Spaces which never existed.
Thirty Umrigar’s “The Space between Us” is just that, the space between humans, which acts as the sacred invisible line, omnipresent and never to be overstepped. The space between a middle class woman and her servant of over three decades, the space between the educated and the improvised, the space between lives so different in vortex, yet pulled together by an incredible hamstring called fate. It is the story of Sera Dubash, a Parsi housewife who is widowed and thus unchained after years of abuse and disappointment, promised the heights of heavens by a marriage which succeeds in plunging her to depths she never imagined could exist, her daughter Dinaz and her marriage and how her fate is cruelly interwoven with that of Bhima-her household help of yore, her constant companion in hours of grief, her sole strand of support in her marriage of lies, neglect and violence. The space between us, is described as “an intimate portrait of a distant yet familiar world”, while the description says most of it, the catch remains in what is left unsaid- that the distant world is too full of common brutalities and familiarity stems from the contempt of not being brave enough to accept things at their truthful value. The most amazing part of the writing is the seeming ease with which blows are taken, Bhima’s ignorance that education is the only way out of her misery and slums, Sera’s carefully crafted world after years of abuse crashes around her and she prefers to look the other side, her effort to keep up appearances, her desperate quest for happiness and the terrible price she has to pay for it and Viraf, cold and gentle, menacing and ugly all colors played out in the blink of an eyelid. The greatest victory of this book is to bring out in force, the trueness of characters, driven by hope, misguided by optimism, disguised as despair and bound by a wavering thread of belief that life would deliver justice, for all its faults. A treasure, the book does not fall in the trappings of other Parsi writers and does manage to help us realize the spaces we surround ourselves with.