Tara and Bim attempt to reconcile their childhood dreams with their adult lives and work to resolve the lingering guilt of past family conflicts. When Tara returns for a visit with Bimla and Baba, old memories and tensions resurface and blend into a domestic drama that is intensely beautiful and leads to profound self-understanding. Their struggles with autonomy and independence are echoed in the backdrop of the newly-partitioned nation
The book is split into four sections covering the Das family from the children’s perspective in this order: adulthood, adolescence, childhood, and the time perspective returns to adulthood. The book centers on the Das family, who have grown apart with adulthood. It starts with Tara, the wife of Bakul, India’s ambassador to America, greeting her sister Bimla (Bim), who is a history teacher living in Old Delhi as well as their autistic brother Baba’s caretaker. Their conversation eventually comes to Raja, their brother who lives in Hyderabad. Bim doesn’t want to go to the wedding of Raja’s daughter, showing Tara an old letter from when Raja became her landlord, unintentionally insulting her after the death of his father in law. In part two the setting switches to partition era India, when the characters are adolescents in what is now Bim’s house. Raja is severely ill with tuberculosis and is left to Bim’s ministrations. Aunt Mira (Mira masi), their supposed caretaker after the death of the children’s often absent parents, becomes alcoholic and dies of alcoholism. Earlier Raja’s fascination with Urdu attracts the attention of the family’s Muslimlandlord, Hyder Ali, whom Raja Idolizes. When he heals, Raja follows Hyder Ali to Hyderabad. Tara escapes from the situation through marriage to Bakul. Bim is then left to provide for Baba alone, in the midst of the partition and the death of Gandhi. In part three Bim, Raja and Tara are depicted in pre-partition India awaiting the birth of their brother Baba. Aunt Mira,...
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