The Space Between Us is a harrowing and yet poignantly beautiful tale of the everyday hardships, joys and true tragedies life can offer at any moment. In the city of Bombay resides an old woman named Bhima. Once she had a bright future but now she finds herself living in a slum, working as a domestic servant and taking care of her granddaughter Maya. Torn between her love for her grandchild and the shame Maya has brought to the family, Bhima seems to sit on a precipice of life and death.
Serabai is Bhima’s employer and in some ways her friend. Bhima has worked for Serabai for years but do to the caste system of no matter how close they have become-distance must be kept. However as Serabai reflects on the hardships in her life it is clear how important Bhima has been not only to herself but also to her daughter Dinaz. Although Sera is a wealthy Parsi, her life has not been without its own pain and suffering. However even a woman who has meant so much in her life must still drink from her own cup in the kitchen and never sit on the furniture. For no matter her love for the family and theirs for her…Bhima is still an inferior individual and servant.
The Space Between Us is a novel of emotion and at times is almost philosophical in its prose. Thrity Umrigar is a writer who weaves words into magic that reflects true reality like a mirror. Her characters become real people right before your eyes as do their hearts, secrets and minds. India as well comes to life in all its vivid colorful beauty and heartbreaking poverty. As a reader who has spent time in India, I have to say that Umrigar brought the country to life in a way that I have rarely seen in words. The sights, sounds, smells and sorrows all came to life right on the page as I read of the lives of these two women. The story of Bhima and Serabai is not a happy one…but it is one of reality. And yet Umrigar manages to make the book a thing of truthful beauty with her amazing talent. This book left me speechless. I did not want it to end and now fully plan on reading all of Umrigar’s books in the future.