Writing 001 Section 41
6 November 2013
Strength within Ourselves
Life is composed of moments of happiness, sadness, anger and fear that build up our character as individuals and keep us to moving forward with our lives. The obstacles that life brings us can many times not be what we want them to be, we may think that we cannot handle them or overcome them, we may constantly ask ourselves, “Why? Why me?” or even find ourselves deeply pondering on the past that wondering what led to deserve those obstacles. There are types of obstacles that can have an impact in our lives and determine how our lives will be lived. 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 with the help of hope and resilience and how their lives are changed because of the obstacles.
In the difficult situations that life brings to us, there is a small place in our minds and hearts that keep us going. 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). After a life time of hardworking and a great amount of pain, Bhima is furious when Maya is pregnant feeling that all the suffering she has been through has been worthless. At this point of the novel, Bhima's past has not been revealed but the reader gets a gist of her experience by her emotion in response to the new of Maya's pregnancy. 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 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). Bhima begins to picture all the negative things and how Maya would live Bhima's life all over again without any good in it. She has hope that Maya will either have the opportunity to go to college or become a housewife with a family. 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 lead her from the poverty that she is still 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 and demonstrates how everything came to be. Of all the characters, Bhima encounters the most 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 an incomprehensive boss and the discovery of her granddaughter being impregnated by her own boss, in addition to having her husband leave with her son. The woman has had far too much to handle for the amount of time that she has live but with everything she manages to be resilient for taking full responsibility for her granddaughter after the death of her mother. 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 felt and believed 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 an intelligent little girl with much potential, and she was willing to live every inch of sacrifice all over again for this girl.
Bhima demonstrates resilience in various manners, not only physical by putting up with Sera and her problems but also emotional when she had to put up with the drastic change in Gopal. 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 Bhima's fault and her illiteracy. 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 had 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 had to deal 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). For a mother to know that her son was abducted by its father and still manage to keep living for her other child demonstrates that Bhima was very resilient.
Through the many severe obstacles that Bhima was presented in her entire life time it was demonstrated that she handled them with much care and elegancy for a person who lived in her condition. 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.