Reading good fiction can be a challenge these days with so many small presses and opportunities for writers – good and bad – to publish their works easily. Here in this three part series, I will share my opinions and synopsis of three short stories in Literature.
Kavita Through The Glass by Emily Ishem Raboteau
Kavita Through the Glass is written by Emily Ishem Raboteau and told by a narrator focusing on the perspective of Hassan. Hassan is a young graduate student who is currently facing remationship problems with his wife who is now pregnant. Although Hassan is studying full time for his master’s in Mathematics, their marital problems stem from culture.
His wife Kavita is an architect and they are both of Indian heritage, only Kavita is from the American East coast, and Hassan is from India. Throughout the whole story, we hear about how much in love Hassan is with his wife Kavit and how she controls all the furnishing in the apartment and has made them all white signifying blank spaces. She walks around naked while at home, even when she is cooking. Hassan relates his story to us in mathematical terms and perspectives. Hassan remembers back to before they found out they were pregnant and how happy they were. Now that the baby is on the way, the cultural influences and factors are being contributed and weighted more heavily by Hassan.
Reading good fiction is conflicted with Kavita’s Americanization and want for physical attention. When he finds out she is pregnant, she leaves for a few hours and Hassan calls to consult his father but his father only argues with him because h ethinks that Hassan should have married the young twelve year old from India who had been pre-arranged for marriage with Hassan.
Kavita then builds up a habit of disappearing at night which leads Hassan to become nervous and eat a lot – he ends up putting on atou twenty pounds and recalls eating up to five hungry man breakfasts in one week!
One night, Hassan follows her and sees her enter the art and architecture building. He doesn’t go in; he only recounts his love for her. He follows her a second time and notices her hugging a blonde white male with blue eyes which infuriates him. He still doesn’t say anything.
On the third adventure of following his wife, he finally builds up the courage to enter the building and see what she is really doing. He walks into a classroom to find her at the center of it. She is naked and students surround her; they are painting her body.
Hassan recalls that her belly lay there as “big and as round as the sun… only this hurts twice as mush as staring directly at the sun.” Hassan flips out and directs his anger towards the white blonde male with blue eyes. Clearly, this has become about culture and race in his eyes. After this event, the two do not speak for nine days.
On the ninth day, Hassan views her through some glass pieces that had been won in a contest. Hassan wrote a slogan for a company in which he was describing his wife. He views her through the glass and realizes that he doesn’t know how to make her happy.
He brings up the topic of namin their daughter after his mother. This is another cultural push to which Kavita responds, “Do you realize, you never look at me, I can’t rememnber the last time you even touched me.” Hassan’s immediate response to this is “but Kavita, you are all that I look at, you are all that I see.”
This was a very powerful ending because it is made clear throughout the story that Hasan is madly in love with his wife; they just have different ways of showing it. Kavita has been American ized so she is much more physical while Hassan grew up in INdia, so he is used to the more traditional sense of spirituality and respect for the woman’s privacy oher body.
“The pieces of colored glass were smooth and flattish and oblong, shaped like teardrops roughly the size of robin’s eggs.” Again, “the size of robin’s eggs” does not just tell us about the size, but also shape and texture and fragility. This image combined with “teardrops” makes me think of the color blue. “Teardrops” implies that they are translucent and glassy. It also impacts the mood of the piece, bringing in a sense of sadness.
“Kavita Through Glass” by Emily Ishem Raboteau:
The main focus of this story is definitely on the marital problems experienced by this couple. The origins of the problems do no t appear to be at all connected to the husband’s work as a mathematics grad student, rather, their communication problems stem from differences in culture and gender. So, in a sense, it is completely beside the point that he is a mathematician. But, that is the role that the mathematics play in the story. Mathematics is the thing in his life which is not affected by his personal problems, and for some real mathematician, mathematics does offer that sort of ‘escape’ from daily life.
Reading good fiction is hard to find, but reading Kavita Throught the Glass, is a must. It is beautifully written, and even thought I do not get the feeling that the author is particularly knowledgable about mathematics, the apprearance of mathematics is also well done.