They other day I asked everyone to share their favorite short story over on the Page Eighty5 Facebook page. My good friend Ric suggested a few and I rather enjoyed his suggestions. Here are my thoughts on “A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri.

This short story was an experience and truly took you on an unexpected rollercoaster of twists and turns for being merely eleven pages. There were many times throughout that I thought I knew the direction the story was taking. At one point I had convinced myself that one of the characters may have already been dead. This seems to happen frequently after what happened to me while watching The Sixth Sense.  It is through these unexpected twists and turns that I really became invested. I wanted to see what was going to ultimately happen. When I finally arrived at the end of the story, when I reached page ten or eleven I cannot say that I was necessarily happy. The story mirrors life, however, and things don’t always turn out the way that they should.

Even though the end of the story was not as I would have liked, the way that the story was told gave me the opportunity to envision the perfect ending for me. I believe that each person may get something different from reading “A Temporary Matter.” I think that they will see what they choose to see and even though the conclusion of the story is written on paper does not limit the imagination to form a better ending to fit their unique situation. For that reason, I believe that “A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri is a great read.

Here is a link to the story if you would like to go check it out before reading more of my thoughts that may contain a bit of spoilers. Not too much but still may influence the thought process as you read the story.

“A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri

The story focuses on a couple who have been given notice that “for five days their electricity would be cut off for one hour, beginning at eight P.M.” This time forces the couple to take the time to open up to each other and find out things that maybe they never knew. There is a particular part of the story that spoke directly to me.

             “The morning of the fifth night Shukumar found another notice from the electric company in the mailbox. The line had been repaired ahead of schedule, it said. He was disappointed. He had planned on making shrimp malai for Shoba, but when he arrived at the store he didn’t feel like cooking anymore. It wasn’t the same, he thought, knowing that the lights wouldn’t go out. In the store the shrimp looked gray and thin. The coconut tin was dusty and overpriced. Still, he bought them, along with a beeswax candle and two bottles of wine.”

An unforeseen incident had caused something to happen that ended up becoming an amazing part of his day, one that he looked forward to arriving each day. The part of this paragraph that I found most interesting is that this part of the day could occur whether an outside force causes it to happen or not. Turning the lights off and making a concerted effort to connect with another person was completely within his control. I feel that we have this same issue in our everyday lives. We allow the noise, or even one little obstacle, to keep us from doing what we truly want to do. It keeps us from connecting with our family members, our friends, our spouse.

I think that short stories are important for many reasons: the feelings and emotions felt while reading, the entertainment value, and most importantly the call to action that they bring once the story is completed. What kind of impression will the story leave with you that carries on and guides decisions that could ultimately lead to a happier or more productive life? I think that this story has taught me a few lessons and I am thankful to my friend Ric for recommending it.

What is your favorite short story? I would love to possibly give it a read. Shoot us a comment or head over to the Page Eighty5 Facebook page and let us know there and join in on the daily discussion.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I felt the same way at the end. I felt like life had let me down. But I realize that life isn’t all about happy endings; it’s about endings, and beginnings, and the interludes and interruptions that we all face. You’re spot on when you say he could’ve still has the experience even though the power outage ended early. It reminds me of our phones and social media, and how we have to now make conscious efforts to connect with those we love.

    • Makes my heart happy that you found this post before I shared it. I really appreciate the support for something so much in its infancy. In regards to the story, it is so very interesting how we are so hesitant to just do what we know that we should do. I guess we need a nudge from time to time but I would really love to figure out how to not need that nudge.

      • I agree that it would be nice to not need that nudge. I think we all get stuck in our comfort zone to some extent, especially when we have so many responsibilities in life. We tend to play it safe, and I think even get complacent, in our everyday lives. When my wife saw me reading a book yesterday, she commented that she had noticed that I haven’t been reading or doing any of my hobbies, like baking, in almost two or three years. It seems like life and work got in the way. I hope that by taking the time to actually read a book (instead of listen to it), I’ll be encouraged to pursue my other hobbies or start to learn how to play my guitar.

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