In early summer, Tara, now a mature wife and mother, returns with her husband to the childhood home in Old Delhi where her sister Bim and brother Baba still live. Tara’s triannual visit to India is punctuated by a special event: the wedding of brother Raja’s oldest daughter. Tara has become an adult woman, happily engaged in her official duties as the spouse of a foreign diplomat and the anxieties of rearing children in an alien culture. Despite Bim’s active teaching career, the elder sister is preoccupied with the family’s past. Obsessively recalling prior injuries, Bim is preoccupied with her role as family martyr. Like Baba, who is mindlessly engrossed in his 1947 record collection, Bim is trapped in the past.
As their niece’s wedding draws closer, the two sisters’ initial uneasiness with each other develops into a tension marked by awkward conversations and equally uncomfortable silences. Bim, for reasons Tara cannot at first understand, refuses to attend the family celebration; the psychologically disabled Baba is absorbed in his world of old phonograph records and solitary games, and the wedding exists in a reality beyond his comprehension. Urging Bim to explain the tremendous anger she feels toward Raja, who was once her closest intimate, Tara elicits Bim’s, and her own, reminiscences of youth.
Their reminiscence takes them back to the violent summer of 1947, when, with the Indian independence and the founding of Pakistan...
(The entire section is 570 words.)