Vine of Desire (Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, 2002)

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Vine of Desire adalah lanjutan cerita dari Anju dan Sudha (Sister of My Heart), dimana sebagian besar latar belakangnya adalah Amerika, tempat Anju dan Sudha melanjutkan hidup dan menata diri masing-masing. Jalinan kasih sayang persaudaraan yang mereka punya menopang diri satu sama lain. Anju pun memiliki kekuatan untuk melanjutkan hidupnya setelah keguguran dan berselisih dengan suaminya, Sudha pun semakin tegar untuk hidup tanpa suami, demi anaknya, Davita. Konfrontasi dialami ketika suami Anju memiliki perasaan terpendam pada Sudha. Sementara itu, perbedaan gaya hidup, kultur budaya India-Amerika memaksa mereka untuk mempertanyakan kembali arti hidup mereka, lepas dari pemahaman yang selama ini mereka punya di tanah air mereka.

“It is not clear when Anju first sensed this. At their double wedding, when she stood beside Sunil, their bridal garments knotted, and watched him watch Sudha’s forehead being marked with the red powder of wifehood? Months back, when he told Anju that it was a bad idea to bring her cousin to America? The night before Sudha’s arrival, by which time it was too late? When did she first sense that though she loved him, she didn’t always trust him?

But lately Anju doesn’t trust the runaway roller-coaster of her own emotions either. The wild mood-swings after the miscarriage that would leave her weeping or laughing hysterically. The long bouts of depression, later, that immobilized her in bed, incapable of even answering the phone.

Guilt ate at her, a slow, pernicious rust. No matter how often Sunil assured her that the miscarriage could have been caused by any number of things, she didn’t believe him. When the blackness came upon her, her mind turned heavy and stubborn, like one of those cement mixing trucks you pass sometimes on the road. A sentence would catch in it and begin to rotate, If only I’d listened to the doctor and not overworked myself, until it broke down into a phrase, If only I hadn’t, If only I hadn’t. It ended, always, in the same anguished chant. Prem Prem Prem.

She would rock her body from side to side, her neglected, will-o-the-wisp hair spreading its static on the sofa, fingers digging rigidly into her arms until they left bruises shaped like tiny petals.

“I don’t know how to help you when you’re like this,” Sunil would say.

Afterwards, when the depression lifted, she would sometimes say, “You don’t need to do anything.”

Inside her head she added, Except love me.

Inside her head he replied, I do love you.

Inside her head she said, But not enough.”

(Chapter 1, Vine of Desire)



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