“A Temporary Matter,” by Jhumpa Lahiri, displays how a married couple’s relationship is affected by the loss of a child. Before their tragedy, they were pleased with one another. However, when Shoba gives birth to a stillborn child, the couple isolated themselves from each other. Shoba distracted herself by working and keeping with her routine while Shukumar lost motivation to finish school. The death of their son created detachment and reticence in their marriage in contrast to their abiding love beforehand. Before the stillbirth, the author portrays Shoba and Shukumar as a couple with a stable relationship.
Lahiri specifies that Shoba’s readiness “was typical of her. She was the type to prepare for surprises, good and bad. … She kept the bonuses from her job in a separate bank account in her name. It hadn’t bothered him. ” Shoba’s actions set the mood that the marriage was in a constant state of security. As long as Shoba kept track of the marital affairs, everything else would fall into place. Shukumar was reliant on Shoba in this way: her preparedness laid the foundation for their working marriage. Shoba was steadfast in her belief that, if she held the reins, she could tailor his and her life as desired.
Shukumar, although not resentful of it, was powerless in this sense. Her strict methodology shaped their lives while the husband was uninvolved in marital matters. Shoba’s sense of order exclusively kept their relationship alive, being the only spouse who kept all affairs in order. Moreover, Shukumar became sentimental looking at the dining room table as a time “when they were so thrilled to be married, to be living together in the same house at last, that they would just reach for each other foolishly, more eager to make love than to eat.
Lahiri’s selection of detail shows Shukumar’s recollection of happier times, when the couple was only intimate in times of stability, seeing nostalgic romance in their dining room. Shukumar’s impulsive desire for his wife disappears as Shoba no longer actively works for their relationship after the stillbirth. Before the plight of the marriage, the couple functioned because of Shoba’s dominance. After the stillbirth of her child, Shoba became depressed and stopped caring about the people and things she used to love.
Shoba and Shukumar’s relationship went from passionate to frigid as the effect of the stillbirth inflicted change in Shoba: “He thought of how long it had been since she looked into his eyes and smiled, or whispered his name on those rare occasions they still reached for each other’s bodies before sleeping. ” Before the stillbirth, Shoba was the one who instigated these small showings of passion; now, however, Shoba did not have the will to participate in the relationship, and Shukumar did not pick up the slack.
In addition, Shoba stopped caring about activities she was once passionate about, like entertaining friends: “One hundred and twenty people had crammed into the house–all the friends and the friends of friends they now systematically avoided. ” Shoba became more distant, leaving her amiable personality behind her with the stillbirth. Socializing with friends, along with cooking and decorating the house, were activities Shoba once loved; now, they are only memories of who Shoba was before the stillbirth had altered her personality and behavior.
As another result of their marital distance following their child’s death, Shukumar became more detached from his wife. Before having a child, they were involved in each other’s lives. Their relationship was severely strained with the death of their child. Shukumar chose to work in the nursery “partly because the room soothed him, and partly because it was a place Shoba avoided. ” The narrator underplays the convenience of the nursery being the only place where Shoba will not bother Shukumar. He chose to work in privacy despite the fact that it pained her to see the nursery.
Moreover, because the two grew increasingly distant, at times they even went to lengths to hide relatively meager things from each other. Shukumar did not want Shoba to know that he was not writing, so “when he heard her approach he would put away his novel and begin typing sentences. ” The narrator makes it clear that they lost their spark, and not only can they not discuss problems with each other, they go out of their way lie to each other. As Shoba and Shukumar have to rekindle when the lights go out, they are forced to face what they dread most: the future of their marriage.
Her idleness coupled with his negligence makes Shukumar hesitant and anxious to have a simple conversation with his wife. Shukumar is aware of their eroding connection after Shoba detached herself from the marriage after the stillbirth. Their confrontation will either incentivize change to bring back their newlywed sense of intimacy or will perpetuate their emotional separation from one another. Beginning at eight P. M. , they will find out if they either have to sever ties or save what is left of their marriage. (832 words)