(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Although fifty-two-year-old Sadie has been married to an Indian and has lived in India for thirty years, she has always remained an Englishwoman at heart. She feels young and free as she packs her bags and prepares to leave her husband, children, and grandchildren in order to return to England, where she intends to spend the rest of her days.

Over the years her relationship with her husband has so withered away that their marriage now exists in name only, but they remain friends. The person who is apparently most upset at Sadie’s impending departure is Annapurna, a distant relative of her husband who now lives with them as his mistress—an open arrangement that suits everybody, including Sadie. There appear to be no hard feelings on any side. Annapurna is genuinely grieved that Sadie is about to leave the household because both she and Sadie’s husband love her in their own way and enjoy taking care of her. Sadie, however, is so thrilled to be leaving that she can hardly contain her joy, but she tries to suppress her smiles because she feels ashamed of her happiness in the face of their grief at her leaving.

Sadie has carefully planned her departure. A week earlier, she went to Bombay to say good-bye to Dev and Monica, her grown children who have families of their own. When Monica asked her why she was leaving, Sadie explained that as people age they grow homesick for the places where they grew up until their need to return becomes unbearable. Monica understands and sympathizes, and both her children promise to visit her regularly in England. The only person who remains inconsolable is Annapurna, who cries and repeatedly asks whether Sadie will miss them, their love for her, and her life of the past thirty years....

(The entire section is 714 words.)