Chapters 1-2 Summary
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s novel Sister of My Heart (1999) relates the emotional story of two young Calcutta girls—Anju, who is from a high caste in India, and Sudha, who is more beautiful. The girls were born on the same night after their mothers learned that both the girls’ fathers had died. The fathers had been cousins, so Anju’s and Sudha’s mothers remained living together, allowing the girls to grow up almost as sisters. Over the years, they nurtured a relationship that was so strong their relatives had trouble understanding it. The story of these two young women has been described by Anderson Tepper, writing for The New York Times Book Review, as a “bittersweet fairy tale.”
When the book opens, the narrator, Sudha, is listening while her aunt Pishi tells an old myth that says the Bidhata Purush (a god) comes to the birth of each child to foretell the baby’s fate. Knowing the god is coming, parents leave sweets at the side of the baby’s crib. If the food has been consumed by morning, the child will grow up lucky. However, another portion of this story proclaims that after the Bidhata Purush has visited, a demon might also appear. So throughout the night a lamp is left lighted or a holy priest is asked to protect the doorway to the nursery.
When Anju hears this story, she teases about how untrue the myth is. She says it is not the Bidhata Purush who eats the food left at the side of the baby’s bed; rather, the family’s servants eat the food. Anju also tells Sudha that she does not believe in demons.
Sudha relates that she and Anju have three mothers, and this is probably to make up for the fact that they have no fathers. Their mothers, as she refers to them, include Pishi, a widowed aunt, who lost her husband at age eighteen. Pishi takes care of the Sudha and Anju while their real mothers are out of the house. Anju’s mother is called Gouri Ma; she comes from a long lineage...
(The entire section is 635 words.)