Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies: stories that resonate with me

THE SHORT story being my favorite literary form, I picked Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies just a few weeks before my licensure exams. As a reader I've realized these past years that, yes, the best stories for me are those that resonate with my personal experiences.

What happened with “A Temporary Matter,” the first story in the collection, was exactly that—the shared lives of Shukumar and Shoba brought back memories of brownouts and dead children. Not that I had dead children of my own; but I had patients who, for a very long time, tried to conceive. I remember one instance when a 35-year old woman with a history of repeated abortions cried inconsolably when she learned that the baby she was carrying was already dead. It was the farthest her pregnancy had gone: eight weeks. Her husband was resigned to the possibility that they may need to adopt. He contemplated the idea of the next few months: of caring for his wife, who would inevitably succumb to depression. He had done it before, he said, and it wasn't exactly a walk in the park. What used to be an intimate celebration of two bodies and souls united as one had ceased to be a celebration and became a mere mechanized ritual to put the sperm and egg together. "Ang hirap, Dok. Matanda na rin kami," he told me, as we waited for the final ultrasound result. There was no sign of life.

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