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Coping With Life

“You bastard!” I scream at the man with the pooping boils. other passengers press closer. ” you think we’re smuggling contraband in those coffins!”

Once upon a time we were well brought up women; we were dutiful wives who kept our head veiled, our voices shy and sweet.

“The Management of Grief,” by Bharati Mukherjee, is a sorrowful story of a mother and her local community and friends who have just lost many family members in a plane explosion on June 23, 1985. Picking up soon after hearing about the crash and receiving mixed news of how it happened, the mother, Shaila, is frantic over the possibility of having lost her two sons and her husband in the explosion.  There are many people in her home helping her after such a tragedy; they are cleaning, cooking, and keeping her company. Although she knows that she should be more upset, the calm in her seems to to be disconnecting her from the situation just as Jennifer Bussey suggests in her overview of this story¹. It is not until she and her close friend Kusum go to Ireland to identify bodies that she realizes just how much she hoped her sons swimming skills would lead them to an island somewhere and she would come home with her sons like the incident never happened. An engineer who had family in the wreck, comes to her saying that it is the job of a parent to have this hope and to not give it up. Eventually she goes to her home in India with her parents in hopes of easing the pain of loosing her family. She is not ready to fully accept that her young sons and husband are truly gone. In the trip back to India, Kusum, accompanied by Shaila, is taking her family members in coffins through security to be properly buried. The security guards refuse to let her pass until it is cleared through the head of security. The quotes mentioned above is of Shaila yelling at the guard that stopped Kusum. She is realizing that, though they were once calm mannered women and their culture is that of a calm woman, she is now a stronger woman transformed by an unfortunate circumstance. Kusum mentions to Shaila that there are certain steps to go through when dealing with grief and they have seemed to reach a “Depressed Acceptance.” Near the end of the story, Shaila is recruited by a government woman, Judith Tempelton, that is working with the families of the deceased flight passengers. In the process of attempting to help a family understand their financial situation, she comes to recall the principles of her faith, that is to never stop having hope for your families life to continue. The family she is helping does not give up on their life in Canada just because there children may have died in the plane, but she was ready to leave it and start somewhere new. In this moment she accepts what has happened to her and finds the strength to get out of the car with Mrs. Tempelton and start living her life. Not the life where she is holding the weight of her deceased loved ones on her sleeves, but one in which she does something meaningful with the tragedy like supporting a charity with the money that would have gone to her son’s college fees. In this quest to live her life, she is also trying to complete what she and her husband with their sons began when they moved to Canada.

I am unsure as to what the last sentence means. Could it mean that she is dropping off a bomb to “Politicize the Indian voter.” Or could it simply mean that there on the park bench, she left the metaphorical ‘package’?

¹Bussey, Jennifer. “Overview of ‘The Management of Grief’.” Literature of Developing Nations for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Literature of Developing Nations. Ed. Elizabeth Bellalouna, Michael L. LaBlanc, and Ira Mark Milne. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2000. Literature Resource Center. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.


2 Responses to “Coping With Life”

  1. helber20 says:

    plane* explosion in the first two lines. Nice job leading into the article Bussey created. I really liked how you talked about how when she yelled at the security guard, she had changed from the once timid woman she used to be.

  2. dahlin19 says:

    I loved the detail that you gave throughout the article, one thing I would have loved to see at the beginning would be some more background detail of the plane explosion. I really think you captured her character progression and gave an accurate depiction of who the main character truly is, and the struggles that she faces.

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