Writing 001 Section 41
6 November 2013
The Outcome of Strength
Life is composed of moments of happiness, sadness, anger and fear that build up character as individuals and keep us moving forward with our lives. The difficulties that come with life can many times not be what we want them to be. Many may think that the obstacles that life presents us are unmanageable, but reality is that many obstacles are life learning lessons. India is a conservative country that is based on religion and historical events, this affects the individuals that live there in multiple maners. There are types of obstacles that can have an impact in our lives and determine how our lives will be lived. India is considered a progressing country, although its poverty rates, disease rates, death rates and population rates are extremely high. In the novel The Space between Us by Thrity Umrigar, the author presents the many obstacles that Bhima and several other characters overcome to keep living their lives through hope and resilience and the changes in their lives.
Through the struggles that are brought to every character, they all seem to have a sense of hope that helps them manage their lives. The novel begins with Bhima filled with anger and anguish about the pregnancy of Maya and not knowing who the father of the child is. Her dream has been to see Maya as a college graduate, living the life she never had. Bhima complains and feels helpless when she says, "No, now she will just sit around like a queen all day, feeding herself and her-- her baby bastard baby, while her poor grandmother slaves in someone's home. All she can feed the demon that’s grown in her granddaughter's belly"(11). Bhima feels disappointed in her granddaughter after she has worked very hard and has dealt with her boss. At this point of the novel, Bhima's past has not been revealed but the reader presents that she has been through some things from the way she acts towards Maya. As the grandmother who has taken care of her granddaughter her entire life Bhima states, "If Maya would reveal the identity of the father of the baby. In her mind Bhima saw her daring granddaughter fat and content, busy in a kitchen with sparkling stainless steel pots and pans, frying puris for rambunctious, dark-haired son and father who came home every evening from his white-collar job"(21). Inside the heart of Bhima there is a sense of hope that Maya will tell her the name of the man who impregnated her, they will get married and live as a family with both parents being present for their child. As a grandmother and mother, all she wants is for Maya to have a better life than the one that she is living in. Bhima reconsiders, “After all, he and Dinaz baby are going to have a child of their own, a child who will never know what it is to have adults plot its death. A child who will be welcomed into the world” (94) Bhima feels that it isn’t fair that others can form a happy family and Maya will have to struggle being a single mom. Although Bhima does not accept that Maya is pregnant she finds hope in the abortion thinking it will save her from being condemned as a single mother.
The hope that Maya can create a family of her own drives Bhima into doing many things. As the hope for a better life for Maya and the possible baby, Bhima goes to the university in the search for the father of Maya's child. The image of Maya living without a husband, "There would be no kitchen with shiny pots and pans for Maya, no loving husband who would provide her with all the fine things that she, Bhima, never could"(34) challenges Bhima into doing whatever she has in her power to create a family that can support Maya and the baby. Bhima begins to picture all the negative things that could happen to her and how she would live Bhima's life all over again. She has hope that Maya will either have the opportunity to go to college or become a housewife with a family, both better options that being an uneducated single mother. Bhima hopes that Maya will not suffer if she forced marriages her to this mysterious man, she hopes that Maya will continue her education and leave from the poverty that she is in. She ponders on, “Maya, who had been the sole bright spot in Bhima’s bleak life; Maya who was to make up for all of Bhima’s own un realized hopes and aborted dreams, who was the golden focal point of all of Bhima’s fantasies and daydreams”(37). Bhima hopes for a better future, a future that doesn’t involve brutal physical labor, unpaid hours or the poor living conditions. Throughout the rest of the book, Bhima's hope is what keeps her to raising Maya and taking her for all the acts that she did. Bhima has the hope that Maya will form the life that she once had but was later devastated because of her illiteracy; she believes that Maya will achieve all the things that she never had the opportunity to do.
The second book of the novel explains the past of many of the characters. Bhima encounters many difficulties from discovering that her daughter and son-in-law has AIDS, their death, the result of an alcoholic husband, her living condition, having to put up with a demanding boss and the discovery of her granddaughter being impregnated by her own boss, in addition to having her husband leave with her son. Bhima has lived through many obstacles in her life yet she manages to take care of Maya. Bhima had no obligation to take in young Maya after her mother had left and lived her life across the country. At Pooja's funeral Bhima reminds herself, "Remember, you are all the little one has. Be brave, old woman, for her sake"(155). Bhima feels and believes that she has to take care of Maya and do in honor for her daughter. After all Bhima and Pooja had been through, spending the majority of their lives without the male figure in the household she felt that this could be a form to repay her daughter for the life she could had never given her. Bhima knew that Maya was intelligent, with much potential, and she was willing to live every inch of sacrifice all over again for this girl. Although Sera and her family have done many things for both Bhima and Maya, Bhima finds the strength in demonstrating that she can survive without the money that Sera was providing. Bhima finally feels, “freedom” she feels “it has been so many years since she’s ever been alone like this” (316). She is no longer dependant of Sera and all of her marriage problems aside from the chain that held her to owing her money. Bhima came to an epiphany that the people she was supposed to hate were not the Muslims but rather the upper class.
Bhima demonstrates resilience in various manners; in the physical form by withstanding Sera and her problems and emotionally by tolerating the drastic change in Gopal’s attitude. Working in factories always has its downsides; in the case of Gopal he encountered an accident that cost him three fingers; Bhima is illiterate and when the man representing the company asks her so sign the papers she knows nothing but to oblige into receiving money and Gopal losing his job. After the accident Gopal felt useless without having an income to bring home to his wife for the support of both of their children. As a man it is expected for him to take care of his family and not have his wife provide everything for him. Gopal felt devastated for the news that he was compared to a "breast less woman" and having the idea that he would never find a job that would be willing to hire him for not having three fingers; he protested that all of this was because of her and her foolish actions. He began to demonstrate his anger by hitting his son and wasting the pension money on alcohol. Although Bhima was not aware of what she has done, she knew the anger that Gopal held towards her. In the beginning of her marriage he used to open the door of their hut when she was busy, but after the accident he simply stared at her as a sign that she could to it herself. Aside from Bhima putting up with Gopal's drastic change in personality, she has to manage with him leaving her alone and taking her son with him. In the letter he wrote to her he states, "Today is the last time I will steal from you-- just enough for train tickets to get Amit and me to the village"(249). The strength that Bhima has after all the things that she has lived present how resilient she is and how does not give up when it comes to any circumstance.
With all the difficulties in her life Bhima manages to change as a person. Her difficulties are what keep Bhima to live, the sense that she wants to provide to others the many opportunities that she never had, she wants to see Maya live the life she never could. Bhima's resilience and hope are the only things that shape her character in moving on after the discovery of which the father of the baby really was she held herself with much pride demonstrating that neither education nor money can transform a person like she was transformed by these two beautiful characteristic. Although there may be challenges in life, there isn’t anything impossible that can interfere with overcoming those challenges demonstrated by Bhima in the novel.