Pages 205-212 Summary
Louis and Sita are standing near ward A, a building set apart from the state mental hospital. Louis says the windows of the building are regular glass and Sita will be able to sit outside on warm days, just as she would on her porch at home. Sita refuses to look either at the windows or her husband.
Louis and Sita’s psychiatrist have both explained that ward A is for patients who might eventually return to society and lead a “normal life.” Four months ago, Sita pretended to lose her voice and enjoyed all the attention she got everyone having to lean in close to read her lips. She enjoyed the attention so much that she actually did lose her voice; if she spends some time here, her psychiatrist believes she might be cured.
The psychiatrist scolded Louis for enabling her after looking through the dozens of black books Louis “kept over the years in an attempt to cure her episodes.” He recorded Sita’s dreams, her conversations with various objects, and the fantasies she shared with him. But Sita feels violated by Louis showing the doctor these private records.
Finally she allows Louis to lead her into ward A and a nurse takes them to the room she will temporarily share with Mrs. Waldvogel. The hallways are all green and remind Sita of an aquarium; the walls of her room are mustard yellow, and she knows she cannot sleep here. She tries to tell Louis she hates the color and sleeping with a roommate will remind her of so many years of sleeping in the same room as Mary. She used to resent Mary’s ability to sleep while she struggled with her own ability to do so. Louis consults with the nurse and knows nothing of Sita’s feelings.
The nurse is unwilling to read her lips, and Sita considers escaping. The nurse returns with Waldvogel, a grandmotherly old woman. When they are alone, Waldvogel shows Sita photographs of her family and Sita thinks it might become pleasant to live here—until the old woman calmly says she ate her last roommate.
The nurse has orders not to read Sita’s notes (this one says she refuses to sleep in a room with someone who believes she is a cannibal), so Sita sits in the lounge and watches television with other patients. The patients look normal, though they do seem rather ungroomed. She is horrified at what she might look like if she stays here too long.
She lies on her bed and does some imaginary gardening before Waldvogel gets ready for bed. Sita is “laid out like a human sacrifice,” and the old woman grimaces menacingly at her before taking out her teeth. Sita can already feel that the knot in her tongue is loosening.
In the morning, a new nurse allows Sita to call Louis; before he can even speak, she screams at him that she is cured and wants him to come get her.