I had heard great things about Thrity Umrigar’s The Space Between Us, and couldn’t resist picking it up when I found it at the recent Strand Book Festival. Now, I’m glad I did. I started reading it almost immediately, and finished it yesterday.
The Space Between Us is the story of Bhima, the poor servant who works at the house of the rich and sophisticated Parsi lady, Sera. Bhima has had a tortured past, and ghosts from the past still haunt her. Much the same as Sera, who has had to deal with a lot, who, to an outsider, is privileged to have a wonderful and rich husband. Bhima is tired of her slum life, and her passport to happiness is Maya – her grand daughter. It is no wonder she feels cheated when the girl gets pregnant and gives up her education.
It is the story of how these two women share each other’s deepest secrets and are a solace to one another. It is the story of the class systems in India. It is the story of how money and power, and illiteracy and ignorance are treated. It is the story of marriages. It is the story of how injustices are committed, little ones that are paid no heed to by anyone, but which are big enough to harm the psyche of the person who bears the brunt. At the same time, it is the story of hope, attitude and courage.
It is a very real story, and I could really relate to it. I could ‘feel’ the characters, as should happen in a good book. I loved the way the author has intertwined Sera’s and Bhima’s story, making the reader feel they are different, and yet, not that different from each other. The Space Between Us had me cringing from pain at times. It is a sad story, definitely not for weak hearts. I adored the ending, though, and I loved the author for ending the story the way she has.
The book left me very emotional, thinking about a number of issues – some of them not very pleasant. I would say it is a powerful story, one that will definitely touch you to the core. I am sure game for reading more by Thrity Umrigar now.
A totally unrelated PS: If you are a Bangalorean or happen to be visiting Bangalore now, don’t miss the Dastkar Handicrafts Fair at Palace Grounds. It’s on till August 15th, and is a must-visit! Don’t forget to take your cameras along! You’ll regret it later if you forget, as I did. 😦