Commentary on ‘A Gift’ by Rahila Gupta
The story is an interior monologue that traces the feelings and emotions of a relationship between two women. It is a very reflective piece or work that is written in first person narration. We are not aware of the identity of the narrator. The title of the story contradicts the story. A gift is given to someone out of happiness and that which has good memories that which stays with a person forever. But here the story is called a gift which is very sad and unpleasing to hear. The narrator presents the story in a one sided a way by blurring some facts and adding his own feelings.
In the first two paragraphs of the story, the author shows the speaker as angry towards the other (assumingly French) woman. She says, “I am gifting you an experience, were your parting words. You ultimate egoist.” To this the author replies with, “My experience is of my own making, thank you, my own perceptions.” Here it shows that the author is very angry at the proud nature of the other woman who wants to take full credit for the experience the two women had shared.
The character of the narrator is revealed when the following words ‘My experience is of my own making, thank you, my own perceptions. You can impinge on it only if I will it’. There is also an observation about the second character’s personality. The revelation comes through words like ‘You first entered that crowded room and diminished everyone by your appearance, your personality clearing a path for you’, ‘Such a fiery commitment to your politics’. The author actually reveals the nature of both the characters.
By the use of a certain type of language and phrases that make it very difficult for the reader to know the gender of the narrator. The author seems to have done it deliberately to keep the readers confused. In some sentences the reader feels that the narrator is female “I had overcreamed my lips to preserve them for the winter’s chafing touch” because words like overcreamed are mostly used by women. But in some sentences the reader feels that the narrator is male “you entered my consciousness like air in my lungs” shows that the narrator might be male. The identity of the narrator is revealed in the end when she says “Basically I am a one-woman woman.”
The story goes in a linear fashion from the fourth paragraph to the end. It starts when the narrator describes how they coincidently meet each other outside the supermarket as they work for the same party. They then land up smoking and drinking together. They even go out for lunches together. In the further paragraphs we see how they become very good and close friends and start discussing all their personal matters.
The fine use of imagery personification and synesthesia are used by the author to make the story a bit clear. The use of imagery is seen in ‘My self respect lay in shreds like a soaring kite grounded’ & words like ‘tumbling from my lips in cascades’ and ‘cue’. “My heartbeat throbbed through my eyes and my vision came in diastolic and systolic rhythms.” This shows that the narrator is exaggerating to convey the feelings she had at that moment.
The story holds the readers attention till the end until the abrupt ending which leaves the reader asking for more. It ends in an anti - climax where the reader thinks something will happen but there is nothing. The story is interesting as it is filled with a lot of literal components. The writer is very intelligent to confuse the main message embedded in the story due to which it requires more than one reading. It is a great piece of literary work that depicts human emotions.