Cul De Sac (Second Place Marguerite McGlinn Award Winner)

The first night her parents arrive from 印度 is the one that means the most, because there is so much to look forward to, 即使是现在, 即使发生了这么多事.

As the car turns into Swapna’s street, evening is creeping in on the neighborhood. 那幢很快就会属于她的房子是白色的,窗户上有金色的方形光柱,坐落在那条小路的尽头. Even as families gather for dinner in the other homes, this one waits in silence. Swapna的父母一下车就发现了.

“太安静了,”她妈妈把手放在她胸口说. The crickets chirp in unison, emphasizing the silence when they pause.

“This is a residential neighborhood,” Swapna shrugs. “这就是365安卓官方app下载——我——选择它的原因.”

She opens the door with some hesitation. What she has grown accustomed to is likely to appear unnerving to her parents. 他们一直觉得美国是孤独的. 但是今晚, the quiet desolation of the living room, 琳达昨天才小心翼翼地打扫过的, 猛击他们的脸. 斯瓦普纳瞥见了他们惊讶而疲惫的脸,又一次希望自己没有答应他们的请求,前来“帮助”.”

Her father is too exhausted to reflect but her mother, never quite able to switch off her intuition or her concern for her daughter, 环顾四周,嗅了嗅. Swapna wonders with sudden panic if she is searching for Tom’s smell. Linda and she have sprayed bottles of bleach, 擦窗器, 地板波兰, 织物柔软剂, 地毯去污剂, and other liquids in the last six months, 疯狂地进行消毒, 但谁也不知道. Swapna hopes her mother cannot smell the debris of her marriage on her first night here.

The longer the interval between their meetings, the more significant the reunions become. 她知道她的父母也有同感, because even though they are so tired they feel like they are walking inside a cloud, they insist on staying up with her for a while. Eventually, when her father goes to bed, Swapna and her mother sit on the cream leather sofa. 他们几乎不说话, 每隔几分钟,她的妈妈就会打一个大大的哈欠,那么悲伤,这让Swapna想要蜷曲在那里打瞌睡. Finally, her mother’s eyes start to close and Swapna nudges her towards her room gently.

“明天,妈妈边说边站了起来. “明天, we will talk about everything.”

斯瓦普纳回到自己的房间,钻进被子里,凝视着深蓝色天空中巨大的幽灵般的月亮. 今晚她觉得自己又像个孩子了. 她感到安全和温暖,知道不像过去的五个月, tonight she will sleep through the night.

第二天早上, 等她醒来, Swapna remembers that some remnants of Tom linger around the house. 他从欧洲历史会议上带回来的印有埃菲尔铁塔照片的马克杯和其他马克杯一起放在厨房最上面的架子上. 他的工具箱在车库里存放了一段时间,当Swapna可能需要修理什么东西时,即使她, 和大多数其他印度女性一样, has never learned to fix anything in her life. 他那件褪了色的棕色灯芯绒夹克, which he wore on his walks every evening through the mild Atlanta winter, 挂在壁橱里. 他的书就在他们多年来共同建立的图书馆里. 其中大部分是传记. Of American presidents, European royalty, country musicians, baseball players. All of them have his name on the first page, 用墨水写, alongside the dates and locations where he purchased them. Vienna, New Orleans, Toronto, New York, Jaipur. Somewhere there is a box full of Italian ties in various shades of red, the one vanity he permitted himself despite the jeers from his scholarly colleagues. When Swapna opens the top drawer of her dresser each morning, a blue Tiffany’s box stares at her. 她从不往里面看. 她不需要. 她知道那里有什么, 它如何在阳光下闪闪发光, 还有它摸着她皮肤的感觉, 又硬又冷.


她想知道她的父母是否会发现这些东西. It makes her almost smile to think how things remain the same over the years. 她的父母第一次来看望她时,她和两个室友一起住在北方的公寓里, back when Swapna was just a graduate student, she had removed things before they arrived. The bottle of whiskey from her bookshelf, the tube of KY Jelly from her bathroom closet, the packet of condoms from her nightstand, 成人频道的订阅, 还有汤姆的所有照片. This time, she did not bother to hide anything. 这就是婚姻的奇怪之处,即使是失败的婚姻. It gives you a kind of legitimacy that no relationship can, at least not if you are 印度n.

 She finds her father in the living room, studying the switch for the air conditioning.

“你为什么总是戴着它??”他问. “你的电费是多少?”

这个问题激怒了Swapna. The temperature is in the eighties outside, and soon the house will warm up. It’s summer in the deep south, she wants to tell him. 每个人都使用空调. 这不是印度. But she says nothing and goes into the kitchen where her mother is making tea.


“妈,”副研究员的抗议. “这是第一天. 不做家务.”

这当然没有用. By the end of the day the kitchen looks different. Drops of water cover the sink and the counters, and even splash on the tile floor. 垃圾桶从空到满. Swapna到处都是面包屑. She wonders why she bothered to get the house cleaned. When her parents go outside to admire the backyard, Swapna grabs a paper towel to and wipe the counters dry and mop up the floor. It is not 印度, she wants to say to her mother. 别把一切都弄湿了.

But when her father goes to bed right after dinner, 她的母亲克服了时差,又和她一起坐在沙发上. Swapna打开了她的Facebook页面. They scroll down the newsfeed while she points out all her friends. Her colleagues, her grad school cohorts from Philly, and some of her old friends from Calcutta. Her mother looks intently and listens to every word, asking questions about the people she used to know. 她现在在哪里?? 她的孩子多大了? 他父母还好吗?? 然后,突然出现了一个让Swapna措手不及的问题.

“汤姆在Facebook上吗??她妈妈问 casually, without looking at her.


没有必要详述. Her mother does not need to know that she unfriended him the day they had the talk, back in the winter when the trees were bare and reached into the sky with skeletal arms. 那天晚上, 还在因为对抗而发抖, she hadn’t been sure if the unfriending was irreversible. 但这个充满象征意义的姿态是不会被取消的. Her mother does not need to know that she still goes to his profile sometimes, 尽管她看不见他的帖子. Swapna看着他的头像, 一个旧, where he wears a red T-shirt and baseball cap and a two-day stubble, 看起来仍然像她认识的那个汤姆. If she stares at the thumbnail photograph long enough, he morphs into a stranger. Her mother doesn’t have to know that Swapna needed to unfriend him, 不是出于愤怒或骄傲, but because she could not bear to see the girl’s casual posts on his wall. The 照片 of helpless animals in shelters, 关于摄影的博客, 关于运行的更新. And then his comments on those posts, so courteous, so 体面的.

“那个,”她妈妈指着说. “那是谁?”

They both look at the picture of the 印度n man with a receding hairline and a soft, round belly. He is not on Swapna’s friend list, but Facebook recommends that she add him.


确实如此. 尽管他的身体变软了,脸也变圆了, 尽管头发稀疏, 他看起来还是那么孩子气,那么可爱. He is wearing a dress shirt tucked into black trousers, looking a lot more dapper than before. A pair of sunglasses hangs down the front of his shirt.

“你跟他谈过吗??”她问, with the innocence of one who does not really understand the complicated mechanics of Facebook.

Even before she finishes the question, Swapna sends him a friend request. 已经这么久了. 当然,他现在已经原谅她了. 他们都是中年人. They have found other people to direct all their strong emotions at in the past two decades.

It is after midnight when her mother finally goes to bed. Swapna keeps checking her Facebook page until Joydeep accepts her friend request. She lies in bed and looks at his 照片, 试着拼凑一辈子, when he sends her a one-line message saying, 很高兴接到你的电话,你看起来很开心.

She takes her parents to see the Coca Cola museum, where they gaze at vintage ads. Her father and she stand in the tasting room side by side, sipping miniature plastic cups filled with different flavors of soda from around the world. Green tea from Japan, raspberry from New Zealand, candy pine nut from South Africa. 他一脸严肃地品尝着每一种,然后做了简短的评论,就好像公司的未来取决于他一样. Swapna watches him drink the fizzy liquids with the sincerity of a professional taster. His forehead is lined with creases and he looks frailer than she remembers from two years ago. 他在美国看起来总是不如在印度那么权威. He speaks more softly and does not laugh as much. She wonders if it is the old uncertainty he feels in this 外国 land, 或者如果他因为她的处境而特别虚弱. He will turn seventy-seven in a few months. 她不应该四年都没见过父母.

He turns to her and says, “Try this one Buri. 很清新.”

他递上杯子. 苏打水是金黄色的,像姜汁汽水. So many beverages on tap here in America, 在每个办公楼层, 在公共场合自助洗衣的费用, 高速公路上的休息区, 每个公寓大楼的大厅, 大学校园里到处都是. How Swapna had marveled at this when she first came here as a graduate student in the nineties. 从那以后,她变得多么疲惫. But when her father calls her by her pet name, Buri, for a moment she feels innocent again.

The last time Swapna was at the Coke museum was with a tourist friend from Germany, and Tom. Afterwards the three of them had gone to eat tapas. They drank two pitchers of sangria between them. Tom was a far better host than her, ensuring that their guest was constantly entertained. Swapna允许自己有一点幻想. 如果他现在在这儿就好了, 他会和她父亲一起走在前面, 向他指出一些事情, 引用苏打水的科学事实. Baba would keep up an endless stream of questioning, making Tom swell with the sense of his own importance. Meanwhile, her mother and she could have talked too.

There is so much Swapna wants to talk to her about, but where does one begin? 那天晚上,她从办公室的圣诞晚会上醉醺醺地回到家,向汤姆伸出手臂, 只能被推开? Or on the afternoon at the gallery when she caught a glimpse of his former student, 二十多岁,瘦得像根芦苇, laughing like she was high at something Tom said? 或者更早开始, on the day when they bought this house when her bank balance was a third of his, 然而,他们还是决定平分抵押贷款,因为她自认为是个女权主义者.

No, none of them is the beginning of course. 副研究员知道. 她知道18年前加尔各答的一个早晨, when her mother woke her up at first light of dawn for the turmeric bath. Bulu pishi led the other aunts on her father’s side to begin the ulu-uli, until the sound of their high-pitched voices rang out through all the rooms like a siren. 客人们盯着美国人. 午饭时,汤姆的食指被一根鱼刺扎到了,吓了自己和大家一跳,这对表兄弟是如何互相推搡、咯咯地笑的. Swapna apologized later for not having warned him but he simply laughed.

She had tried to see the wedding circus through Tom’s eyes. The heavy crimson sari and layers of gold jewelry that wore her down until she could barely move, the mournful notes of the shehnai that played all evening until the last guest was gone, 那片巨大的潘叶,她用来遮脸不让新郎看见, 交换金盏花花环. 通过这一切, 斯瓦普纳假装自己是旁观者, 白色, 外国, 着迷, watching everything for the very first time. 尽管她厌恶仪式, 看见汤姆, wrapped in a 白色 and gold dhoti and silk kurta, 让它变得很迷人.

Swapna finds herself thinking of that day for the first time in years, and wonders what she would do if she had a time machine. 如果她能以现在的后见之明回到那一天,她还会坚持下去吗? 她的父母走在前面,没有说话. Her father is almost a foot taller than her mother. The back of his head is bald and hers grey. Swapna watches them walk side-by-side, in sync. They have been married forty-eight years and they met only once before their wedding. 这似乎不太可能,但事实就是如此. Yet another cliché from the country she has left behind, but all the sneering in the world cannot make her marriage more successful than theirs.

到了晚上,Joydeep会在她的iPhone屏幕上弹出一条消息. 他问她过得怎么样. It’s a strange question, given how much time has passed since they last spoke. 她考虑这个问题, 想知道二十年前的那个晚上之后她怎么样了, when she hung up the phone after breaking up with him.

“很好,”她告诉他. “你?”

他告诉她一些基本的东西. 他几年前搬到了孟买, 为微软工作, which she finds ironic because that’s what 印度n men are supposed to do in America. 他一个人住在西郊,在果阿有一座小房子,他的很多周末都在那里度过.


Swapna recalls the flat he shared with his parents when they were in college. 它就在繁忙的市场旁边,小贩们在那里摆着靠不住的小摊,卖着油炸小吃, 廉价的塑料珠宝, 和生产. 有时, 在他们从大学回来的路上, Swapna and Joydeep would climb off the bus and stop at the market to buy guavas and oranges. 在频繁断电期间, the shopkeepers would light their kerosene lamps and lay them on the ground. The streets and houses stood in darkness, 但市集却在灯光下闪烁着黄色的光芒.

 现在,他开着本田城(Honda City)的车去他在海滩上的周末别墅.

“那么,”她类型. “你终于变成了资本家.”

他添加了一个大笑的表情符号. “如果你不能打败他们,你知道.他听起来很像美国人. “Living in 印度 is expensive now, especially Bombay. 人必须生存.”

Swapna想知道,什么时候生存在祖国成了度假屋和日本轿车的代名词. 但是,她立刻感到内疚. It is the guilt of the Non Resident 印度n, 潜在的双重标准,一个人随意地从自动售货机中取出罐装苏打水,自动售货机的摆放是为了最大限度地消费. Besides, something in Joydeep’s voice suggests a lack of contentment. Or maybe, in her misery, she is simply seeking company.

One morning, she wakes up to find her mother muttering as she opens shelves in the kitchen. 她随机拿出未开封的罐头和罐子,并阅读标签. She starts to throw away things from the fridge.

“Buri,” she says decisively when she sees Swapna. “我需要做饭. 你不能这样生活. 你不再是学生了. 你是.” She does not complete the sentence, which makes Swapna wonder what she thinks she is. 科学家? 中年? 离婚了?

现在谁也阻止不了她母亲了. 她列了一张清单. 他们去杂货店. Her father comes along because he is 着迷 by American grocery stores. He insists on calling them supermarkets. Swapna希望他们不要碰到任何黑人,因为她的父亲在提到黑人时也用错了词. His idea of America has changed little from when she was a little girl. Now, he pushes the cart while Swapna leads the way and her mother makes the selections. The women pour over things and consult while her father stares at the rows of cereals. A customer barks at him to get out of the way because he’s blocking the aisle.

“对不起, 对不起, 对不起,他马上说, ashamed and concerned about the breaching of grocery aisle propriety in America.

To compensate for his apologies, Swapna glares at the woman’s back as she walks away. How uncharacteristically rude she has just been for this gracious city.

Her mother leans toward her and whispers, “Racist?”

“也许她厌倦了,或者因为什么事沮丧了,或者不开心了. 也许,”她停顿了一下. 她丈夫为了另一个女人离开了她.”她笑着说.

Her mother looks at her without smiling.

“I don’t think you should joke about serious things. This is your problem, this is why you annoy people,” she says, with her lips pursed.

Swapna avoids speaking to either of them for the remainder of the trip. The thought of carrying the tilapia filets, 牛肉, 菠菜, 胡萝卜, 还有回家的甜菜, 使她疲惫不堪. She already bought all the things she thought her parents would enjoy, stocking up the fridge in the days before their arrival. 肝酱,意大利熏火腿,各种奶酪,便携菜,芦笋. 这一切都是为了什么?

“这是给你的,”她妈妈说. “你需要吃你想念的东西. Especially now that you don’t come to 印度.”

She wants to tell her mother she misses nothing, at least nothing edible. What she misses is not from 印度, and her mother can’t cook it up for her. But since she is trying not to have conversation, she says nothing. While they wait at the checkout counter, 斯瓦普纳瞥了一眼她的手机,看看乔伊迪普最后一次上网是什么时候.

那天晚上, when she gets under the covers she feels an old familiar stirring. 这几乎就像兴奋. 当电脑亮起时,她发现自己有点发抖.


“别担心,我是老板.” He adds a smiley, fat, yellow, infinitely cheerful. “我的办公室里没人. 我想做什么就做什么.”


“Never found the right person after you. 我太愤世嫉俗,太生气了, 然后时间的流逝, 我工作很忙, 这似乎太费劲了.”


“是的. 在果阿. 我走的时候会看到她.”


“这很好. 生活很好. 享受当下.”


她认为他一定是个好情人. 在大学, Joydeep, Swapna和他们的朋友经常在下午翘课,在彼此的家里闲逛. The fun part about going to Swapna’s parents’ flat was the food her mother would make for them. Cheese pakoras, home made pizza, fish fry, potato tikkis. They would sit on the balcony and eat, drink numerous cups of tea, and talk. 有时, her mother would join them briefly. Her friends tried to include her in the conversations. Mashi, 加入365安卓官方app下载他们会说,腾出空间来. 食物一如既往地美味. 只有乔伊迪普会显得不舒服. He would stare at his scrawny hands or long feet, and not say a word while her mother was there. Later, he admitted that he was intimidated. 他会说,都是些小事. The thin gold necklace her mother always wore. The piano in the living room, which he knew she played. 她父亲抽的烟斗. Whenever her mother was around, he seemed to freeze. Swapna wanted so much for him to be lively, to tell his 笑话 and impress her with his knowledge of Marx and Jung and Derrida.

The Joydeep that Swapna knew privately was a boy of simple but acute pleasures. In 印度 they did not have enough privacy for sex. 相反,他们去看电影了. Mostly afternoon shows, when the sun beat down on the streets with unrelenting force. 为了躲避炎热和潮湿, 他们买了塑料包装的咸味爆米花和热薯条, 坐在灯塔酒店、环球酒店或新帝国酒店凉爽的黑暗中, 在好莱坞电影全球上映几个月后,新市场附近的三家剧院都在播放好莱坞电影. 在黑暗中,斯普纳多次浏览乔伊迪普的简介. His cheekbones were so sharp and his face so thin, 他们使他在屏幕的蓝光下显得幽灵一般. His goatee made him look slightly older than his years. They sat with their elbows touching on the same armrest. He always watched the movie so intently, 观察电影制作的每一个细节, 当她让她的思想思考. 在白天的那个时候,他们周围的座位几乎空无一人. If he had wanted to, he could have kissed her. Many of their friends went to the movies for that. She waited for him to turn to her with blazing eyes, but at the movies he never did.

一些冬天的天, when the nip in the air chapped their lips and the sunshine actually felt good, 他们乘公共汽车去动物园. Swapna still remembers thinking that the animals looked uniformly depressed. And there is this one memory, an image, of monkey pairs searching one another for head lice. Joydeep and she spent hours outside the monkey arena, watching them do this. 他们会多么小心,多么耐心地寻找虱子. 这是爱乔伊迪普有一次对她说. It was unlike him to speak overtly about emotions. 当我长大后他说, 我想成为一只猴子.

烹饪从周日开始. Her silent, cold kitchen is transformed into a cauldron of scents and sounds. The pressure cooker hisses and whistles. 微波哔哔声. 油在锅里咝咝作响. 一股蒸汽从锅里冒出来. The kitchen smells of turmeric and cumin. Swapna chops vegetables on the counter facing the backyard. 当她父亲坐在门廊上看报纸的时候,她可以看到他那光秃秃的脑袋的后面. 下了一夜雨,草很茂盛. 她看着妈妈做饭, hoping to acquire some magical culinary talent from the act of observing. 她的母亲在厨房里是活跃和自信. 她的手指快速地移动着. 她向Swapna要加兰咖喱. 但Swapna不知道它在哪里. It’s been so long since she made 印度n food. Tom did most of the cooking until six months ago. Even the last night, before he left, he cooked spaghetti and meatballs. 他们喝了一杯酒. 副研究员喝两. 不,三个. 那天晚上她喝了很多酒. 她打碎了一个玻璃杯. 他保持冷静. He calmly cleared up the table, loaded the dishwasher, wiped the counters. He wanted to make sure他说, that the house was tidy before he left. Because he knew how much she sucked at housework. 他说这话没有恶意.

Swapna is impressed with her mother’s efficiency in her 外国 kitchen. It is not just about making food for her family, though that is her mother’s calling. It is the shrewd wisdom with which she senses things, 买什么, 要付多少钱, 当做饭, 什么时候吃, 追踪哪些药物, 是否要午睡. While she is here, Swapna is tempted to abandon all responsibility and let her make the decisions. 她只想像用过的纸巾一样蜷缩起来屈服. She is so tired of being self-sufficient.

“他怎么样??她妈妈问 as the turmeric-coated tilapia fries in the hot oil.



”汤姆? 我觉得他很好. 365安卓官方app下载不交流. 他的律师和我的律师谈话.”

“他一定会给你报酬的? 在他做了那些事之后?”

“365安卓官方app下载将会看到. 这很难证明.”

“但他是? 他不是?”

为什么她妈妈不说出来? 为什么她不说通奸或欺骗,或者任何会立刻让他陷入印度教地狱的字眼呢? Swapna一开始没有反应,因为她真的不知道. What she wants more than anything else is to know. 但一想到他的否认是真的,她就受不了, that the marriage in fact disintegrated for other reasons.

“你觉得呢,妈?她终于问道. “Do you think he was having an affair with that girl? 他们总是在发短信. 他们一起参加艺术活动. 他们有很多共同之处.”

“They were both American,” her mother says.

这是所有. 这就是她要说的. 好像这就够了.

厨房里有煎鱼的味道, 现在温暖而芬芳, 但是明天, 在接下来的几天里, it will turn into a stink that will refuse to go despite copious quantities of air freshener. If Tom were here, he would have thrown a fit. 把鱼烤一下,不要炸, 他会大叫. 这房子会臭好几天. 也许她母亲是对的. Perhaps his American self couldn’t bear the burden of her any longer.

但现在 that they have broached the subject, her mother looks deflated. 她的动作突然变慢了. Swapna对她年迈的父母做了这样的事感到很抱歉.

“这是好马. 现在很多人离婚了. 你应该理解. You’re not like other people of your generation.” She wants to point out how her parents eat beef, 他们如何读诗, how they watch documentaries on the Middle East. How her mother has even exchanged her Bengali sari for the salwaar kameez. 他们应该可以接受离婚.

“你 don’t understand,” her mother says, laying down the wooden spatula with some force. “365安卓官方app下载活不了多久. 爸爸快77岁了. 我是70年. 365安卓官方app下载还有多长时间? 那么,你打算怎么办呢?”


“谁? 这些朋友在哪里?? 没人来看你. 你总是一个人.”

“并不总是这样,”Swapna抗议道. “他们忙于工作和家庭. 再说,现在是夏天. You know that during the summer I don’t see people much.”


Swapna leaves the kitchen to demonstrate her anger, and joins Baba on the porch. 他们谈论世界新闻. 他对汤姆、她的婚姻和她孤独的未来只字未提. 草是潮湿的, 透过厨房的窗户,斯瓦普纳可以看到她的母亲在酸奶里煮罗非鱼,还有清淡的炖肉和蔬菜, as she sits with her father and discusses current affairs. She could be sixteen, in a condo in south Calcutta, with a future as open as the sea.

在半夜, with all the lights off except the blue from the computer, Facebook提供了一个虚拟的聚会, 与视频, 照片, 新闻报道, 笑话, 《365app下载手机版》, and recipes streaming constantly on her news feed. 怎么会有人再感到孤独呢, 她的奇迹, with all this stimuli from all these people playing endlessly in one’s bedroom? 她产生了一个不可避免的想法. If such a platform had existed when she first left 印度 as a nervous young grad student, 她还会继续和乔伊迪普在一起吗? 如果他们能在周末用Skype聊天,每天每一秒都了解彼此的活动, 他们还会在一起吗?

她离开印度的前一天晚上, 二十年前, 一位大学的朋友邀请他们大家来参加一个正式的告别仪式. In the middle of the party, the group of friends ceremoniously handed her a goodbye gift. 那是一只棕色和棕色相间的直立提箱. 乔伊迪普什么也没给她. 当其他人都在喝酒的时候,他把她拉进浴室,吻了吻她. They ran the tap so it would drown any sounds. He was a scrawny boy whose bristly goatee tickled her chin. 她忍住了笑. 第二天, 飞机起飞后, 在下面留下一道灯光, 她想起了那个吻的感觉,坐在座位上静静地哭了起来.

They wrote letters for a while and gradually she wrote less and less. 他变得越来越绝望. 他对没刮胡子的人的描述, scruffy Bengali boys sitting on the steps of their fathers’ houses and smoking, 谈论共产主义和卡夫卡, 她开始感到厌恶. 加尔各答没有人去任何地方,也没有人做任何有趣的事. 一天,她在一个关于法国大革命的研讨会上遇到了汤姆. He was nearly a foot taller than her, and so confident, and so curious about everything 印度n. The first time she visited his parents in suburban Ohio, everything was so clean. The wine glasses shimmered on the table, 壁炉整个晚上都在闪烁, 外面飘着雪花. Everything in her old life seemed to fade away in a few brief months.

但现在 Joydeep and Swapna chat like old friends, 她在想,自己选择了一个中西部的白人,而不是听着同样的音乐长大的人,是不是一个错误, 说同一种语言, 闻到同样的气味. 在西方的短短两年时间里,她是如何迷失自我的呢?

印度的选举刚刚结束. Swapna’s newsfeed is crammed with reactions, celebratory and otherwise. 乔伊迪普属于后一个阵营.

“该死的右翼印度教徒,”他写道. “他们会操365安卓官方app下载,从他们的追随者那里榨取每一丝独立思想,从365安卓官方app下载其他人那里榨取尊严.”

一股如释重负的浪潮冲刷着斯瓦普纳. She can imagine the look of disgust on his face and the snarl in his voice. Here is the same old Joydeep, fiery and passionate about politics and human rights. She remembers how he marched across campus with the red Communist Party flag. 她还记得他的破牛仔裤和卡其布外衣,还有他肩上挎着的帆布大手提袋. She is tempted to provoke him further, to drive him to a point of frenzy.

“但经济? 你们的工作? 那些不重要? 新政府有望再次吸引外国投资者. Doesn’t the prime minister have an impressive record in his home state?”


Swapna pulls the comforter over her even though it is a warm and humid night. “你是说谋杀和暴乱??? 剩下的就是他的裙带媒体宣传. 穷人并没有从中受益. 穆斯林没有受益. What fucking record are you talking about?”

她在半明半暗中微笑. “你 haven’t changed that much after all.”


它出乎她的意料. “真的?”

“是的, you’re calmer, and not in a good way. 好像有什么东西离开了你. Spirit or romance or that innocent faith in the world.”


乔伊迪普说:“这还不够. “I will retire in a few years and move to Goa, where I can climb coconut trees and sip feni, 看海浪拍打着海岸, 写一本书.”

看到这景象,她眼中涌出了泪水. It is like the cover of a romance novel. 太愚蠢了,太尴尬了.

 “你应该到果阿来看我. 或者更好,跟我一起住. 重新点燃.”

“什么?在等待他的回应时,她的心脏可能已经停止跳动. It has been a long time since anyone has flirted with her.

“你浪漫的一面,”他说. “天真.”


A chubby yellow smiley appears on the screen, before the chat abruptly ceases and the green light next to his name goes out.

The night before her parents leave, she finds it impossible to sleep. She gets out of bed in the middle of the night and wanders to the living room. 雨下得很轻,大飘窗蒙上了一层雾. Swapna走到沙发上,发现她的母亲坐在那里,盯着窗外. She sits next to her and they gaze outside as if the window is a TV.


“妈妈,你来之前也发生过同样的事情,”她说. But the truth is she is a little afraid too. This departure feels different, more significant somehow.


“求求你,妈妈,我不是孩子. I came here alone, when I knew no one and had nothing. 现在看来.她在屋子里挥着手. She is a senior researcher for the US government, she has colleagues and friends and even in laws though soon they will not be hers. Still, she has built a community in this country, and lives on her own terms. 这一切她都想告诉她的母亲,但她只是挥了挥手,仿佛这个手势可以包含整个生命.

“Perhaps it is our fault,” her mother says.

斯瓦普纳惊讶地看着她. 她期待的是责备,而不是内疚.


“We should not have 允许 you to come here. 你本来可以住在印度的, married Joydeep or some other Bengali boy, 365安卓官方app下载都会在附近. We should have put our foot down when you wanted to marry an American.”

“妈,”斯瓦普纳开始说,她被心中涌起的怒火吓了一跳. “允许? 你就不会 允许 me?她停下来让自己镇定下来. “如果是在印度,我会怎么做? Got a nine to five job and popped out a couple of babies? Or stayed at home and not even worked like so many of my old friends? 我爱我的工作,妈. 你知道,我也爱过汤姆. 他很有趣.” She yells out the last word and realizes only then that it is true.

她的母亲开始哭泣. 斯瓦普纳沮丧地摇了摇头. Behind them a light comes on in the hallway. 是她的父亲.

“你们两个在干什么?? 这是最后一晚了.”


“别哭了. 停,”他突然对妻子说. “现在不是哭的时候.”

“这不是365安卓官方app下载的错吗?她妈妈问他. “你r sisters had warned us before the wedding. 也许365安卓官方app下载应该阻止她.”

He comes towards them in the dim light and Swapna sees that he is shaking his head. “阻止她,马拉蒂? 那是二十年前的事了. 365安卓官方app下载怎么知道? No one knew what the future held, not even Tom. 他是如此真诚. 你不记得了? 在加尔各答,他乘公共汽车去任何地方,吃饭都是用手. 你不记得了 how he cooked with you in the kitchen and how he tried to learn Bengali? It must have been so hard for him, and yet I never heard him complain.”

Swapna feels her father’s hand on her head. 它非常稳定. She wills it to stay there awhile and tries to memorize its shape on her head. 她的父亲抚摸着她的头发,在他们旁边,她母亲的泪水慢慢平息下来,偶尔哼一声. They stay like that for a while, and watch the sky. Tomorrow her parents will disappear into it. 一天后,他们将从不同的半球观察它. 但现在, in this moment, they are united.

斯瓦普娜想知道,如果乔伊迪普知道她白天开始想他,他会怎么说. Or that she checks her phone for messages every few hours. 他们的在线对话有一种程度的安慰,让她想起了一个不那么复杂的时代. 尽管有表面的变化, Joydeep and she belong to the same community, 并拥有相同的感受. This is what she had thought of Tom once.

他以最私密的问题开始今晚的谈话. “现在汤姆在哪儿?”

“他和茱莉亚住在一起,”她说. “她很年轻. 甚至不太漂亮.”


“She’s a student, works as a bartender to pay her bills. 所以他必须照顾好她.”

“不,我是说你和他. 是谁付? 结算? 这房子是你的吗??”

“哦,. 365安卓官方app下载的律师正在处理. I’ve been asked to stay single for a few months.Swapna添加了一个笑脸.

“你应该捏他一下. 别让他跑了. 在美国……”

“我不知道我是否在乎那么多. 我有工作. And in Georgia it’s all about how much either of us needs. I do have the house because it was half mine anyway.” Swapna looks around her room at the floral wallpaper, 粗毛地毯, and the furniture they had bought slowly, 在个月, 用他们的第一份薪水. 从大窗户可以看到后院漆黑的夜空. 这所房子有一间日光浴室, 周日早上,汤姆用他的高端咖啡机为他们俩煮了卡布奇诺后,她和汤姆就在那里看书. 楼下的地下室堆满了他们的冬衣,他们搬到南方后就再也没穿过了. 汤姆的羽绒服和她的, 厚厚的羊毛围巾和帽子, 和冬天的靴子, lie entangled together in old boxes that haven’t been opened in a few years.  Yes, this house is hers, and she can live out her life in it, surrounded by their memories.

She glances back at the screen and sees Joydeep’s words waiting for her. “对不起, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. 只是过了这么久我还是想保护你.”

It has been a long time since Swapna has had a man feel protective of her. This was the patriarchal impulse she had once fought. 在汤姆身上,她发现了一个自由的白人男人,他平等地对待她,并希望她解决自己的问题. 那是多么令人神清气爽啊. 但现在, 这一刻, faced with the prospect of her parents leaving the next day and a future spent in solitude, 她发现自己渴望有一双保护自己的手臂环绕着她.


乔伊迪普送给她一颗小红心. “那会很孤独. 我希望我能在那里陪着你.”

“Their being here has been so comforting. I didn’t realize just how much it would help.”


“你是甜的. 谢谢你!.一想到要和乔伊迪普聊天,她胸口最近的沉重负担就会减轻一些. She wonders what might have happened if they had found each other online before Tom left. 然后她想到了命运. 命运. 那些她曾经嘲笑过的印度语. 事情本来就该这样吗? 她回到了她的青春,回到了她留下的一切? In the next room, her parents sleep, her father’s gentle snores drift through the walls. 早上,她妈妈会给她泡最后一杯茶. Swapna wishes this night could last eternally.

“I hope your parents are heavy sleepers,” Joydeep类型.

“是的, unless Ma is up worrying about me.”




“现在只是偶尔. 愤怒的消失. 有些日子我真的很高兴能自由.”



“什么 was it like being married to an American?”

“我不知道. 如何总结呢? Same as being married to anyone else I would think. 复杂的.”

但美国人就没那么传统了. Especially a man like Tom who married an 印度. 他一定很开明.”

“是的,他是. That was one of the nice things about him.”



“你都做了些什么?? 你做过很多实验吗??”

“等等,你在说什么?? 你是说像毒品?”

“不,我是说,他有没有教你东西? You’ve been in the States 22 years, you must know all kinds of things.”

The room suddenly feels cooler than before. Swapna tries to recall if she locked all the doors.

As if on cue, Joydeep类型, “My door is locked. 告诉我一些你做过的事. While your parents are in the next room. 这样更有趣.”

副研究员,“Joydeep开始. 她的手指悬停在键盘上, 寻找能解释她现在感受的词语, 或是她在过去六个月里经历的任何情绪.

“Do you remember us kissing in Janani’s bathroom the night before you left for the States? How it turned us on but we couldn’t do anything because of all the people right outside? I have never been more aroused in my life.”

她父亲的鼾声越来越大. The clock ticks on the nightstand next to her. Its metronomic beat sounds like someone’s heart.

When she doesn’t respond for several minutes, Joydeep类型, “明天, 父母离开后, 萍我. 你叫醒我也没关系.”

她还是什么也没说. 她的新闻推送中不断有帖子. 婴儿照片,某人的午餐菜单,某人在西雅图咖啡店无意中听到的对话. 关于全球各地生命的分分秒秒的报道源源不断.

“我也很孤独,斯瓦普纳. This corporate life, this traffic, the crowds, the noise. 这都是震耳欲聋的. 我所渴望的只是一种人际关系.”

这就是你认为的关系? 网络性爱?”

“来吧,副研究员.“印度每个人都在这么做. 年轻的,年老的,单身的,已婚的,每个人. 和你? 你自由了,而且是在美国. You of all people should not pretend to be a prude. 365安卓官方app下载都很孤单.”


“她是甜的. 非常害羞,不太好斗. Not a cosmopolitan, if you know what I mean.”

“我该睡觉了,”Swapna类型的人. “我觉得你身体不太好. 你听起来有点乱.”

I 我不是好? 你呢??”

她知道她应该放手, 结束聊天, 关掉笔记本电脑, but she feels compelled to type something definitive, as if putting the words down on the screen will make her life’s decisions mean something.


The words come faster at her now, and Swapna notices how he misspells them. “哦是的? And what did you hsve in commmon with Tom? 你的声音嘶哑. 你觉得我需要帮助? 你呢? What will you do for the rest of your life?”

Swapna closes the chat abruptly without saying goodbye. She lies in bed, trying to swallow the queasy feeling that’s washing over her. Once or twice she gulps hard to push back the acid that’s climbing up her throat. The room is plunged in cool darkness now, free of the harsh glare of the computer screen. 她躺在那里,思考着乔伊迪普向她提出的最后一个问题. What will she do with the rest of her life, what will she do when her parents are dead and there is absolutely no one to call her own?

在去机场的路上, 她的父母为把窗户打开还是放下而争论不休, whether her father has remembered the tickets, and whether they should grab a bite before boarding. Swapna drives absent-mindedly, listening to her mother scold her father for no reason.

“How can you fight constantly just when you’re leaving?她终于问道.

她的父亲转向她. 他说话的语气很温和. “这是因为365安卓官方app下载要离开. 她心烦意乱.”

This is how he sums up forty-eight years of marriage, 副研究员认为, with this primal understanding of the other person.

Swapna watches them leave at the airport, and bites her lower lip to concentrate on that pain. 他们的背慢慢向后退去,看不见了. 和往常一样,父母一走,她就有一种暂时的孤儿的感觉.

Instead of heading home, Swapna goes to the zoo for the first time in eleven years. 她给自己买了一张票,慢慢地绕着场地走. 这是夏天的高峰期. 连动物都想待在室内. 今天只有少数几个像她一样的傻瓜敢冒险去动物园. Swapna makes her way to the primate section. 它们有各种尺寸和颜色. 钻猴、狐猴、绢毛猴、猕猴. Swapna stops suddenly in front of the orangutans. 有两个. They are large, almost like adult humans, and they sit close together, their bodies touching. 事实上, 每次其中一个稍微动一下, 另一个也是, 在串联, 仿佛被一根看不见的绳子绑住. 它们移动得很慢,慢慢地穿过户外的大笼子.

斯瓦普纳坐在一块岩石上看着他们. 有几个人路过. 一位推着婴儿车的年轻母亲停下来看猿猴. Her baby stares at them from its seat and gurgles with what Swapna assumes must be pleasure, 而不是匆匆离去, 母亲徘徊. 如果她有孩子,斯瓦普纳可能是动物园的常客. The apes, dark brown and hairy, have long, mournful faces. One of them is slightly smaller than the other. The larger orangutan waits patiently for the smaller one to catch up. 他们不断地接触对方.

南方的夏天像热带一样炎热潮湿. Sweat trickles down her back but she cannot turn away. The apes stop in the middle of the cage. The smaller one reaches up to the larger one and begins to search for lice. 它耐心地工作,它的手指揉过对方的头发. 猿猴们时不时地向上看一眼,然后慢慢地向太阳眨眼, 仿佛被外面的世界迷惑了.

Oindrila穆克吉 is an Assistant Professor at Grand Valley State University. She has worked as a journalist in Calcutta, 印度, and been the creative writing fellow in fiction at Emory University. 她是印度杂志《365安卓官方app下载》的定期撰稿人, 目前,她正在创作一部以印度为背景的小说,以及一部关于最近在美国的印度移民的故事集.S.