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Mukherjee’s “The Management of Grief” effortlessly intertwines Hindu culture into the way Shaila, the narrator, manages her grief for the loss of her family in the 1985 terrorist bombing of Air India Flight 182. Hindu culture is rich with tradition; it becomes evident in the story that the narrator, and several other characters, have lost hope for the return of their loved ones. The characters struggle to find peace and balance in their lives after the tragic losses of their family members. They lose touch with their Hindu roots, and stray from their traditional way of life.

…Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Parsis, and atheists on that plane– were fated to die together off this beautiful bay. She learned this from a swami in Toronto.

I have my Valium. (438)

The narrator does not want to confide in a religious, Hindu educator to help her grieve from the loss of her family. The shortness of the quote mentioned above exemplifies the lack of emotion the narrator is feeling. It is almost as if the reader can feel the narrator’s determination to grieve alone.

The Hindu-Indian culture is traditionally focused on women playing a secondary role to their husbands, fathers, etc… “And for my husband? For him I let fall into the calm, glassy waters a poem I wrote in the hospital yesterday. Finally he’ll know my feelings for him” (440). This is a profound statement because the narrator expresses how it is never appropriate to show or tell one’s husband how she cares for him with words or affection. It is respectably right for a wife in the Hindu culture to express her love for her husband through respect and devotion.

As time passes, it seems as though most of the characters in the story are able to continue with their lives and accept the death of their loved ones. However, some of them, like Dr.Ranganathan, stray away from their Hindu traditions and lose hope in themselves and their faith. The narrator sees that her friends are getting remarried, and keeping up with the customs of their religion. The narrator doesn’t find solace in remarriage. She says, “I am comparatively lucky. No one here thinks of arranging a husband for an unlucky widow” (442).

Throughout the story, the narrator is unsure of her purpose, and feels lost in the world after the death of her family. Hindu culture is centered around the relationship between family and a higher being(s); now that Shaila is on her own, she feels as though she cannot see the direction in which her life will progress. However, at the end of the story, Shaila comes to a realization, one that resonates with a spiritual connection to her deceased family. “Then as I stood in the path looking north to Queen’s Park and west to the university, I heard the voices of my family one last time. Your time has come, they said. Go, be brave” (447). Shaila’s self uncertainty seems to drift away at this point in the story. She has shifted away from the dark and depressed view of her life that she experienced at the beginning of the story.  “I no longer know what we started, nor how to complete it” (446). The spiritual meeting with her family is a sign that Shaila’s time to fulfill her life’s journey has come, and she is ready to move on with her life, and start anew, keeping the memories of her family forever close to her heart.

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