“Why are you still alive—why didn’t you die?”
Years later, Sarita still remembers her mother’s bitter words uttered when, as a little girl, she was unable to save her younger brother from drowning. Now, her mother is dead and Sarita returns to the family home, ostensibly to take care of her father, but in reality to escape the nightmarish brutality her husband inflicts on her. In the quiet of her father’s company, Sarita reflects on the events of her life: her stultifying small town childhood, her domineering mother, her marriage to the charismatic young poet Manohar (who turned vicious when he realized his career was going nowhere and that his wife’s professional success was exceeding his own), her children . . . As she struggles with her emotions and anxieties, Sarita gradually realizes that there is more to life than dependency on marriage and family—she resolves to use her new found truths to make a better life for herself.
Shashi Deshpande was born in southern India and educated in Bombay (now Mumbai) and Bangalore. She published her first collection of short stories in 1978. She is a winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award for the novel, That Long Silence. Today, author of four children’s books, six novels, and numerous influential essays, she is renowned voice in Indian literature.