A story that struck a familiar chord

Nishanth Jois

Narrative’s Story of the Week is The Indianness, by Geeta Tewari. I don’t always read these stories–or read them right away. But I opened this morning’s as soon as I saw it. My first novel (recently rewritten and in need of beta readers) is about an arranged Indian marriage), so a story titled The Indianness had my attention.

As I read, I recognized the characters and their actions–Tewari gives us believable people doing things that could be expected–brazen, yet not surprising.

While I’ve never heard of family in the delivery room, I have seen family uncaring of the mother’s agitation and any concern for the child’s comfort or basic dignity take a newborn baby–unswaddled and screaming–and pass her from person to person across a crowded room. I remember biting my lip to refrain from snatching the infant, wrapping her and taking her to her cradle or her mother’s arms. Apparently the child was community property. (She’s grown up fine.)

When I brought my son home from the hospital, raging post-natal hormones made me think my darling mother-in-law was trading me a new microwave oven for my newborn. Family took him away from me when I entered the house, and later she held him as she presented me with the oven. I had hysterics.

Like Sheena in the story, all I wanted was to be left alone, but I was in a house full of people, telling me how to take care of my son.

The Indianness rang very true: I hope readers less familiar with “Indianness” enjoy it as much as I did. I’d love to know if you do.

http://www.narrativemagazine.com/issues/stories-week-2015-2016/indianness-geeta-tewari