A Temporary Matter

by Jhumpa Lahiri
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Discuss the relationship between Shoba and Shukumar in "A Temporary Matter."

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I think that Lahiri develops the relationship between Shoba and Shukumar as one where there were some level of bond and connection evident in their relationship.  Certainly, the death of their first child due to pregnancy complications has impacted them tremendously.  This event caused the divergence between them to become a significant issue.  She occupies herself with more time outside of the house and treating the home as more of a boarding house situation.  He becomes more of a homebody, incapable of doing much of anything that involves life outside of it.  Both of them seem to be more like passengers in transit since the death of the child.  The "temporary matter" of the power being cut off forces them to be a bit more open and honest with one another about themselves and their motivations.  On face value, this might suggest that there is some hope of their relationship becoming communicative and restorative of emotional bonds.  However, it becomes clear that this game of communication is nothing more than setting the stage for their eventual breakup.  In the end, the relationship presented is one that lacked the fortitude and strength to endure the death of the child.  This is something that Shukumar makes sure that Shoba feels, in the attempt to make her feel as hollow and empty as he does at the moment she decides to move on from her life with him.  One can see this as being representative of how fragile the relationship had become with the death of the child.  It might also be reflective of how tenuous the relationship was to begin with, demonstrating that there might not have been that much strength in the first place in the relationship.

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