The story frames the problem of culture in terms of mourning. The central fact of the story—the airplane bombing, and the deaths of many Indian families—gives the people in the story a commonality but also divides them. Shaila, the narrator, is a great example of this. On the one hand, she understands the kind of mourning she should be feeling as a widow, but on the other, her sense of emptiness separates her from her friend Kusum, who returns to India to live in an ashram and mourn her lost husband and daughter. Shaila's "calm" stands out in comparison to the other mourners, which makes her seem like an ideal person for the job of "translating" the government's concerns, represented by Judith, to the other families. In fact, what Judith sees as "irrational" behavior on the part of these families (in particular, the Sikh family she visits) Shaila sees as normative behavior. Rather than "get on" with their lives, as Kusum's westernized problem daughter does, for the Sikhs and Kusum, the duty of parents is to mourn their children. Shaila's decision to stay in Toronto is not a decision to "move on" in any sort of western way, but a response to a call from her dead husband to "continue" what they started, even if what that might be is unclear.