A Temporary Matter (Short Story)

Inciting Event: The stillbirth of the couple’s child six months ago. Key Event: Announcement that the power will go out for an hour every evening for the next five nights.

First Plot Point: Shoba initiates a game where they have to tell each other something they’ve never told the other before, every night of the power failure.

Midpoint: First night of the outage, they recall falling in love and knowing he was going to marry her. Second night, Shoba comes home early, and Shukumar feels a sense of hope instead of despair.

Second Pinch Point: On the second night, Shoba reveals a time when she lied to him; he reveals cheating on exam. They lay bare their ugly truths.

Third Plot Point: Their game comes to a sudden end because the power is restored one day early. Shoba tells him she’s moving out.

Climax: Hurt, Shukumar reacts by telling her the gender of their baby, which she had never wanted to know.

Resolution: “They wept together, for the things they now knew.”

Comments: This short story was originally published in Jhumpa Lahiri’s collection The Interpreter of Maladies (1999).

(Submitted by Portia Tang.)

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