In nine poignant stories spiked with humor and intelligence, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni captures lives at crossroad moments–caught between past and present, home and abroad, tradition and fresh experience.
A widow in California, recently arrived from India, struggles to adapt to a world in which neighbors are strangers and her domestic skills are deemed superfluous in the award-winning “Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter.” In “The Intelligence of Wild Things,” a woman from Sacramento visits her brother in Vermont to inform him that back in Calcutta their mother is dying. And in the title story, a painter looks to ancient myth and the example of her grandmother for help in navigating her first real crisis of faith.
Knowing, compassionate and expertly rendered, the stories in The Unknown Errors of Our Lives depict the eternal struggle to find a balance between the pull of home and the allure of change.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of Family & Relationships eBook: The Unknown Errors of Our Lives|
|Release Date: 08-13-2002|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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The Unknown Errors of Our Lives
Writes A Letter
When the alarm goes off at 5:00 A.M., buzzing like a trapped wasp, Mrs. Dutta has been lying awake for quite a while. Though it has now been two months, she still has difficulty sleeping on the Perma Rest mattress Sagar and Shyamoli, her son and daughter-in-law, have bought specially for her. It is too American-soft, unlike the reassuringly solid copra ticking she is used to at home. Except this is home now, she reminds herself. She reaches hurriedly to turn off the alarm, but in the dark her fingers get confused among the knobs, and the electric clock falls with a thud to the floor. Its insistent metallic call vibrates out through the walls of her room until she is sure it will wake everyone. She yanks frantically at the wire until she feels it give, and in the abrupt silence that follows she hears herself breathing, a sound harsh and uneven and full of guilt.
Mrs. Dutta knows, of course, that this turmoil is her own fault. She should just not set the alarm. There is no need for her to get up early here in Sunnyvale, in her son's house. But the habit, taught to her by her mother-in-law when she was a bride of seventeen, a good wife wakes before the rest of the household, is one she finds impossible to break. How hard it was then to pull her unwilling body away from her husband's sleep-warm clasp, Sagar's father whom she had just learned to love. To stumble to the kitchen that smelled of stale garam masala and light the coal unoon so she could make morning tea for them all--her parents-in-law, her husband, his two younger brothers, the widow aunt who lived with them.
After dinner, when the family sits in front of the TV, she attempts to tell her grandchildren about...