Mrs Dutta writes a story

Mrs Dutta writes a story - When Mrs Dutta decided to give...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
When Mrs. Dutta decided to give up her home of forty-five years to go to America, her relatives were less surprised than she had expected. Everyone knows, they said, that a wife's place is with her husband, and a widow's is with her son by Chitra B. Divakaruni a p r i l 1 9 9 8 W HEN the alarm goes off at 5:00 A.M., buzzing like a trapped wasp, Mrs. Dutta has been lying awake for quite a while. She still has difficulty sleeping on the Perma Rest mattress that Sagar and Shyamoli, her son and daughter-in-law, have bought specially for her, though she has had it now for two months. It is too American-soft, unlike the reassuringly solid copra ticking she used at home. But this is home now, she reminds herself. She reaches hurriedly to turn off the alarm, but in the dark her fingers get confused among the knobs, and the electric clock falls with a thud to the floor. Its angry metallic call vibrates through the walls of her room, and she is sure it will wake everyone. She yanks frantically at the wire until she feels it give, and in the abrupt silence that follows she hears herself breathing, a sound harsh and uneven and full of guilt. Mrs. Dutta knows, of course, that this ruckus is her own fault. She should just not set the alarm. She does not need to get up early here in California, in her son's house. But the habit, taught her by her mother-in-law when she was a bride of seventeen, A good wife wakes before the rest of the household, is one she finds impossible to break. How hard it was then to pull her unwilling body away from the sleep-warm clasp of her husband, Sagar's father, whom she had just learned to love; to stumble to the kitchen that smelled of stale garam masala and light the coal stove so that she could make morning tea for them all -- her parents- in- law, her husband, his two younger brothers, and the widowed aunt who lived with them. After dinner, when the family sits in front of the TV, she tries to tell her grandchildren about those days. "I was never good at starting that stove -- the smoke stung my eyes, making me cough and cough. Breakfast was never ready on time, and my mother- in- law -- oh, how she scolded me, until I was in tears. Every night I'd pray to Goddess Durga, please let me sleep late, just one morning!" "Mmmm," Pradeep says, bent over a model plane. "Oooh, how awful," Mrinalini says, wrinkling her nose politely before she turns back to a show filled with jokes that Mrs. Dutta does not understand. "That's why you should sleep in now, Mother," Shyamoli says, smiling at her from the recliner where she sits looking through The Wall Street Journal. With her legs crossed so elegantly under the shimmery blue skirt she has changed into after work, and her unusually fair skin, she could pass for an American, thinks Mrs. Dutta, whose own skin is as brown as roasted cumin. The thought fills her with an uneasy pride. From the floor where he leans against
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 12

Mrs Dutta writes a story - When Mrs Dutta decided to give...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online