Sunday, July 15, 2012

‘The Purple Line’ by Priyamvada N. Purushotham

"I thought about Leela's cherubic face. Even in the delivery room in her hospital gown, she had a small black dot on her forehead. She had died a sumangali, auspiciously. Only, she had died too young. She was twenty-four.'
"I felt anger well up inside me. I wanted to go to her mother-in-law and scream: Are you happy now? Your daughter-in-law has died unwidowed just like you wanted. Medically, there was nothing I could have done to save her. An amniotic fluid embolism is a rare and not fully understood medical emergency. You can't diagnose it, you can't treat it. But I was angry with myself for the twinge of jealousy I had felt every time Leela walked into my consultation room with a coy smile on her face, looking pristine and untarnished, as if life had always been kind to her and she to it, as if they had made a pact to smoothly ride the journey together without making mistakes. And that, I realised, was the saddest part; that she had never experimented, never explored, never fallen down to fit the pieces of herself back together, that she had sailed slickly along, making everyone happy.'
"Her death coincided with her daughter's birth and they would always be like parallel train tracks that never meet. It was as if her heart had waited, waited patiently for twenty-four years to give birth to that baby before collapsing. I sat looking at the boy who sat looking at the flames that sat looking at the little girl who, for one moment, looked at me. Her eyes glowed in the light of the flames and she seemed to be asking why, why I had not saved her mother and why I had brought her into this world motherless and naked like an ill-fated twig."
(pp. 123-4, 'The Purple Line' by Priyamvada N. Purushotham – Harper)

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