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Much of these chapters focused on two things: Maya's pregnancy and flashbacks to Sera's past. Sera's family seems to be every bit as interested in Maya's need for an abortion as Bhima; Sera even seems to think that it is overshadowing Dinaz's ability to rejoice in her own pregnancy. Maya has asked Sera to go with her when she has the abortion and Viraf finds a doctor in a good clinic that is willing to perform the abortion. Maya is very conflicted about being forced to abort her baby but goes through with it. Sera, who is actually trying to be helpful, is surprised when Maya doesn't appear grateful.
In flashbacks we see how Feroz & Sera's marriage started to fall apart almost as soon as they returned from their honeymoon, in no small part due to the craziness of his mother, Banu. Her husband, Freddy, shows Sera kindness, but that only serves to anger Banu. Freddy even apologizes for not warning Sera before she married Feroz--not just about Banu but also about Feroz's temper, something Sera hadn't seen yet. But soon he is beating her regularly, finally so severely that he leaves to avoid having to watch her deal with her pain. Bhima comes to her rescue using homeopathic remedies, massage and soothing words. But when Bhima comes down with typhoid fever and Sera feels like she needs to nurse her back to health, the best she can do for Bhima is to move her out of the slums and onto a slim mattress on Sera's balcony.
"Space" begins to become more and more a prominent part of the book in these chapters. Sera takes about giving Viraf and Dinaz "space" to live their own lives under her roof but there is also a space between Dinaz and Sera because of their wildly different views on social issues. In one scene Viraf is driving Bhima to the market and Umrigar points out the space between them in the car but, of course, that space, while easy enough to cross physically, can't be crossed because of the social barriers. When Sera goes to Bhima's home because Bhima is ill, she becomes acutely aware of the space between her and the residents of the slums, a space that is made all the more obvious by the residents of the slum and Bhima herself. And when Sera decides she must bring Bhima home to nurse her but can't really stand to be any where around Bhima because Bhima reminds her too much of the slum she has just seen, the space is glaringly obvious. Again the scenes in the slum are wrenching. The classism is heartbreaking.
Passages I enjoyed:
"But now," she continued, "now, I love the deep sound of the cello. Somehow, it sounds most like life - sad and sweet and lost. Lonely. I always think that if the heart could sing, it would sound like a cello."
"...perhaps each long-ago blow lives on into eternity in some different permutation and shape; perhaps the body is this hypersensitive, revengeful entity, a ledger book, a warehouse of remembered slights and cruelties.
But if this is true, surely the body also remembers each kindness, each kiss, each act of compassion? Surely this is our salvation, our only hope - that joy and love are also woven into the fabric of the body, into each sinewy muscle, into the core of each pulsating cell?"