and ramblings on everything in between
Again the central theme is the same in this group of chapters – two women living extremely difficult lives. These chapters focused on Sera’s early marriage and Bhima’s disdain for focusing and dwelling on the past. Perhaps she has decided there is no room in her heart to focus on what might have been. Take a look at what I had to say about Chapters 1 – 5, Chapters 6 – 8, and Chapters 9 – 13 .
Chapters 14 – 16
From Sam: How much does Freddy know about Sera and Feroz’s relationship? It’s obvious he knows that Banu is making life hard for Sera, but does he know Feroz is abusive? In light of his offer to give her a separate apartment, what do you think their relationship is like?
I think Freddy has to know about the abuse. I assume the apartment they occupy together isn’t that big, and if Banu can sneer at Sera the next morning after a beating I’m sure she hears what is going on between the walls and that must mean Freddy can too. I really like Freddy, but I think this is an obvious fault of his. He has let his wife dominate the relationship all these years, and now he’s watching his son continue down the same path as his mother without saying a word. It makes me a little angry that he can let this go on and give them a separate apartment so he can pretend it isn’t happening. Not having a lot of background information on the culture, it could be that no one meddles in anyone else’s business no matter what. You can’t fight tradition, as Sera and Bhima would say, and maybe that is why Freddy stays quiet too.
From Claudia: I have really been considering Viraf’s role in Sera & Dinaz’s lives. We know that Viraf & Dinaz both agreed to move into Sera’s house to keep her company, but I am often left wondering how this choice has affected Viraf in a strict male dominating society. Tradition shows that a wife is expected to move in with her husband’s family. Do you believe Viraf is truly content with the decision he agreed to? Do you sense a bitter tone in his sarcastic remarks or is it just me?
I haven’t picked up on this yet, but you raise a very interesting point. I guess I took Viraf’s sarcasm at face value, seeing that as part of his charm. Umrigar has portrayed him in a positive light, he seems to value both the women, shows kindness and love to them. But he hasn’t come across as a pushover to me, nor has Dinaz come across as a pusher, so I don’t sense that Dinaz made the decision without his input. But bringing up the point that it is uncustomary for them to live with her is a new way to look at it. Maybe it is a sign that the younger generation isn’t as concerned about holding on to traditions. They do what’s best or what’s right and don’t think twice about it regardless of what the previous generations did. This is a great contrast to Sera and Bhima whose lives were held back in many ways because of those traditions, in a time when no one went against them. I like the irony of it.
Also from Claudia: What if Feroz was also mentally abused by Banu? What if as a child, she instilled these false and absurd idealisms that shaped who he later grew up to be? What if, after facing the world on his own, he later came to realize that his framework of the world and society was faulty, and thus he lived with frustration, resentment, disgruntlement, failure, etc? I further sensed that with living under the same roof with both his mother and wife, the need to fill and live out the role of son and husband was both challenging and aggravating on his part; thus, he released his frustrations on Sera through physical, emotional, and mental abuse.
Our musing topic for the week was proposed by Sam: I want to discuss traditions. Sera is living with her in-laws because it’s a tradition even though it’s making her miserable. Bhima sits on the floor at Sera’s house because it’s a tradition [for servants] to not sit in a chair. What traditions have played a role in the lives of these women? Are there any they have broken and what is the result?
Sera has definitely broken the tradition of keeping servants as servants and not has friends or members of the family. A few different people have criticized her for the way she treats Bhima so it’s certain that she is out of the norm in that regard. The result of that is more people to care for and love in her life, which is both a blessing and a burden at times. Sera expressed irritation at having to take care of Maya’s pregnancy and irritation at having to put up with Bhima’s tardiness, but she invited these people into her heart as friends and that caused all the lines to get blurred. While others would have fired Bhima for her tardiness, Sera continues to forgive her because of her love for her. Some traditions they were willing to go against, but other ones that impacted their marriages and the course of their life must have been too hard to go against.