A Temporary Matter (Lahiri)

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A Temporary Matter
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Following a traumatic miscarriage, a couple began communicating again during intentional power cuts in their neighborhood, leading to the revelation of unsaid truths and ultimately the wife announcing her separation.

Shoba and Shukumar, a married couple living in a tree-lined street, were informed that their electricity would be cut off for an hour every day for five days, as a nearby power line damaged during a snowstorm was being repaired.

Shoba — 33-year old woman; works in publishing; meticulous, distant, and grieving.
Shukumar — 35-year old man; graduate student; caring, struggling with grief, and domesticated.

During the darkness, they started a routine where they confessed things to each other that they had never revealed before. Shoba confessed small acts of pettiness, and Shukumar admitted to minor instances of deceit and betrayal.

However, on the final night, Shoba revealed she had found an apartment and was planning to move out. She needed time alone and the couple had been through enough. Shukumar, shocked by this revelation, finally confessed something he had withheld from her.

In the beginning he had believed that it would pass, that he and Shoba would get through it all somehow.

Their baby, who had been born dead while Shukumar traveled for work, was a boy. He had held him, a fact he had promised himself he would never reveal to Shoba.

These days Shoba was always gone by the time Shukumar woke up.

The couple wept together, marking the end of an era in their lives, tainted by sorrow and loss.