Category Archives: Shobha Rao

page 238 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

Curfew

Good ending – interesting image of them running to get to the church / hostel before curfew in that even though we don’t know her religion, it seems as if she’s run to a different culture, as if the pebble had washed downstream and the current had altered it beyond recognition and so all one can do is make their away anew in the same old world. Everyone is running to and from something anyway.

page 231 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

Curfew

Though not rape, it is pretty much sexual assault when the West African boy kisses her at the club and then says he actually wants to meet her friend. I don’t understand people like this.

The story does do a good job of making her seem as if she doesn’t exist, as if there is no home at all 4 her, but it’s not exactly riveting reading, it’s like reading the memoir of a fog – beautiful, but lacking substance

page 223 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

Curfew

Is the pebble she dropped in the river the same as from the previous story, only this story is taking place years later and he is the boy all grown up with a family of his own? Both stories begin on a journey – this time it’s a raft. Fitting that the final image of landscape in the book is of a river since rivers have often come up in the book as dividing and cutting and as time flowing past.

page 217 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

Kavitha and Mustafa

The boy was not travelling with his father – then I wonder who he is. He’s got a hell of an arm to have hit the truck as it passed (I wonder if that’s one of the truck drivers who pulls into the town in The Road To Mirpur Khas?

And so she seems to have started a new life with her as the boy’s mother – she had miscarried so this is a new start for her.

page 208 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

Kavitha and Mustafa

Interesting how she only think that her shoes are going to get ruined after Ahmed attacks the bother with his machete (again, sort of like a movie – No Country For Old Men when Chigur keeps his feet from stepping in the blood and wipes them after killing the wife). She’s very distant – which makes sense considering the situation she’s in – better to be distant than panicked I suppose.

page 206 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

Kavitha and Mustafa

She watches the young couple and how happy they appear to her, but do we really know? Makes me think of Hitchcock’s Rear Window where we can watch and watch but do we really know anyone, either from across the street, across the map, or across the bed? In fact she seems to like watching people – the people on the train and well as her neighbors.

page 205 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

Kavitha and Mustafa

“in the time since they had married, it seemed to her that she’d lost most of her preferences”. Of course since the marriages are arranged it’s not unusual for neither person to be happy, but it does speak to the broader definition of a union in which when you’re forced to be with someone (willingly or not) you have to shape yourself to fit in that space, like being in a crowded bogie.

page 174 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

The Road to Mirpur Khas

He really is an idiot just giving the truck driver his money in exchange for the rotten potatoes. Still, I wonder how long I’d last in a place like that. Granted, I’d be more cautious but I wouldn’t last much longer.

It’s too bad Arya can’t run their little operation; she at least has sense but in a Muslim world she’s stuck with an idiot who’s ruining their lives out of pure ignorance.

page 171 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

The Road to Mipur Khas

She is, for the most part, devoid of any emotion. No wonder since she’s married to someone with no sense which means she has to have sense for both of them and in a country at civil war then a young woman is going to be more than aware of what might happen to her, regardless if she’s married.

Were the ducks real? Did he image that? Were they so close to water without realizing it?

page 168 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

The Road to Mirpur Khas

He’s very poetic, “It was almost as if the water, as soon as it hit my body, was turning into birds, their wings warm and quivering and soundless”. No wonder he’s so poor and otherwise dreaming of where he can pick mangoes whose skin is unlike his own. Only dreamers think this way, not people who are practical. The most terrible curse is to be a dreamer and to be poor.

page 121 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

The Lost Ribbon

Heartbreaking line, “it is easier to look at death than at pain”.

This was very much like the story in The Brother’s Karamazov where the mother had killed her children because of how terrible her life was and that the point was that we can’t judge another person because we don’t know what they are going through, even if they’ve done something terrible.

page 114 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

The Lost Ribbon

The scene where she picks the food out of his beard is one of those odd memories we all retain for no reason and can’t seem to forget. It might not even mean anything other than it’s a memory that makes up who were are which itself is odd because that means we’re made up of a lot of things that don’t make sense to us, thus does life make any sense?

page 108 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

The Lost Ribbon

The act of her counting the colored lentils is not too different than people playing solitaire to pass the time – seems all she’s ever been able to do is pass the time, the fact she’s lived to be over 60 is almost a shame. “All that trouble for nothing” (p 112)

She then compares the colors of the lentils to her lost ribbon, stolen just as she will be stolen when she a little older.

page 108 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

The Lost Ribbon

I wonder if the ribbon is not only referring to her daughter’s yellow (not white) ribbon, but also refers to a part of herself, such as how she was raped at 14, and also of the way memory works where we don’t remember everything we’re more like “pebbles skipping across a pond” and what is lost is the time spent in the air before impact. She’s also describing involuntary memory a’la Proust.

page 106 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

The Lost Ribbon

We start off with a murder and she compares this act with the summer heat and failure of the monsoons. It’s an interesting choice to introduce a character who is killing their child via strangulation and then justifies it by saying “If you [I] don’t kill her, he will”. Obviously something bad is also going on – I wonder if this will follow in Dostoevsky’s story of the mother murderer in Brothers?

page 103 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

Blindfold

I mean the ending is almost the exact same as the Shawshank Redemption. But since I would assume almost everyone is familiar with this story, perhaps the Rao wanted to play on the idea but only tell it from the warden’s point of view (Bandra) and how she, despite her cruelty, was not able to get Zubaida to fear her – she should have known when the girl challenged the snake without fear.

page 94 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

Blindfold

Zubaida (the girl) keeps repeating her name – perhaps so she doesn’t forget or out of defiance, as if speaking a name brings it into existence.

Bandra’s cruelty is not just to keep the girls in line, she’s actually full of hate and jealousy and malice – she hates these girls. And that’s odd because to hate them means she’s not indifferent to them (which would be crueler), she has an attachment to them.

page 88 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

Blindfold

The violence is so matter-of-fact, so cruelly common – she just grabs the girl, tackles her, binds her up, and nobody does anything about it – not even the women. And then they way she’ll deal with the girl’s father, by sending her thugs to beat him as a lesson and not even giving him the agreed upon money. Her cruelty is banal – she doesn’t even let the girls have windows – no hope. No wonder she’s tired.

page 83 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

Blindfold

Quite a leap to go from being married to a man 27 years old than you who dies and leaves gambling debts to deciding to just sell what’s left and start a brothel. Nobody just ups and does that so something else was going on that made her even consider it let alone actually carry it out. And that she thinks the girls actually like her means Bandra is really good at lying to herself.

page 82 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

Blindfold

Sad to think this is still going on in the world where children as young as 4-5 years old are “bought” from their “impoverished” parents and then sold into sexual slavery. Interesting how Bandra is on the outlook for the girls’ mother or sisters and that she transacts with the father, not the women. She knows what she’s doing would probably get her killed if the women caught her.

page 78 of 244 of An Unrestored Woman

Unleashed

I was reminded of Marie de France’s lais, Laüstic (the one where the jealous husband kills the nightingale to keep his wife from standing at her window to see her lover and throws the bloody corpse at her chest where it leaves a bloody mark). The killing of the bird in this story is like the death of any love she might find, as if Cupid has been replaced by a sniper who only kills.