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“A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri is about a couple dealing with the aftermath of the stillbirth of their son. After his death, Shoba and Shukumar find it harder and harder to maintain their relationship, hardly talking except in the safety of a darkened room. At the end of the story, we find out that Shoba has rented an apartment and is planning on moving out. In shock, Shukumar reveals that their baby was a boy and that he had held the baby before the nurses took him away – something he never thought he would tell his wife. The last sentence of the story is a powerful one: “They wept together, for the things they now knew” (630).

The couple does not truly address their mourning until the end, when Shukumar’s words prevent them from ignoring the truth any longer. While this is a sad ending, I also think it is a hopeful one. Throughout the story, Shoba and Shukumar slowly begin revealing secrets to each other, getting to know each other in ways they’d forgotten since the loss of their son. By facing these smaller truths, ones they’d never told each other or admitted aloud at all, they were ultimately preparing themselves to face this truth, even though they did not realize it at the time.

I have heard that most couples split up after the loss of a child, and things are headed in that direction for Shoba and Shukumar. While their decision, of course, is an important one, it is more important that they, both individually and as a couple, face their grief instead of running from it. This secret Shukumar revealed is a harsh one, but it is one that will allow them to mourn and try to move on with their lives. By crying together, they have finally admitted the truth to themselves and can begin to better process the grief they are facing. This, to me, gives the story a note of hope that they will both be able to move on into a healthier place in life.

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