Filled with rich imagery, beautiful prose, and an occasional poem to more fully express the more overwhelming emotional moments, this is the story of a woman torn between fulfilling the ideals she was raised to believe in and answering an internal need to experience life to greater depth. As the eldest daughter of a family already marred by controversy, the narrator reveals how a happy childhood helped instill beliefs that would guide her through the rest of her life. While these beliefs guided her into becoming a strong, capable, and loving woman as well as a talented and dedicated doctor, they also served to bind her into a loveless marriage and a thankless family. Ironically, the bindings are crafted of ties named family, honor, and duty, none of which seem afforded to her by any of the people in her life. More than simply taking everything she had to offer while offering no comforts in return, the people in her life took everything she earned while actively alienating her even from her own sons, ensuring her life was as isolated and lonely as it could possibly be.
The story reveals how the strict social structure of late-20th century India severely limited the opportunities and freedoms of women even when they were highly educated and successful professionals. While some women were beginning to break free of the traditional bounds, others, including the narrator in this story, remained trapped within the bounds of social expectations. Through her story, the narrator demonstrates how the reward of remaining true to these traditional structures are expected to be a smooth and satisfying life, but such is not the case. When one is choked of all joy and possibility in life, is it better to grab for the oxygen mask or allow oneself to die? In presenting her story, the narrator here poses these questions without apology or justification. Whether right or wrong, she has found her humanity and has found peace with it, learning that happiness and fulfillment come not from without, but from within
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