The Space Between Us

Sometimes when I try to snooze longer, the old lady and her old maid in the house behind ours prevent it. Standing in their backyard, they trade news, argue over how clothes should be washed and utensils cleaned and the order in which to do them; the mistress tries to be imposing, but her voice is weak and the maid is stubborn. Today, the news is that the maid has a week’s leave from the other house where she works. They have gone to America for a week, she told her mistress. I have not seen these women, but their voices come up through the mango leaves, through my pigeon-ridden windows, into my bedroom, crisp and clear as the morning.

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The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar is the story of two such women, mistress and maid, set in Bombay. It was reviewed in The Economist last week. After breakfast I went to Crossroads and bought the book. Bharat joined me there and gave me two small Kannada books by Rasheed: Alemaariya Dinachari and Maathigoo Aacche. Rasheed is a National Academy Award winner, is young and active creatively, but his books are not available in any bookstore in the capital city.