Shukumar finally recognizes that their marriage is beyond salvation and he retaliates by revealing the secret of the gender of their miscarried child, to hurt Shoba.
This story is about a couple, Shoba and Shukumar, who are wife and husband. Shoba is a proofreader and Shukumar is a teacher and undergraduate. The story starts with their present rift in their marriage. The narrative has flashbacks to explain the circumstances leading to their current situation. Shoba feels alienated, suffers from post-natal blues and other troubles after her miscarriage and late caesarian delivery. Shukumar has mistakenly assumed that she would recover from this experience but their lack of communication has created an abyss.
Shukumar is motivated by his love for Shoba. He loves her and hopes that she would convalesce and that everything would return to normalcy. Shukumar loves Shoba even as she distances herself to him. He waits at home for her even when she tries to stay away from the house by getting more work outside. (Lahiri 2). While not working, he stays home to write his dissertation. Shoba leaves for work early in the morning before Shukumar wakes up. As a consequence, Shukumar does not feel motivated to arise from his bed before noon. The narrative says; 'But nothing was pushing Shukumar.' (Lahiri 4). He is motivated by his love for Shoba to cook as he cannot bear to see Shoba eating cereal for dinner because she does not cook anymore. (Lahiri 8). There is an apparent reversal of traditional roles as Shukumar becomes the house husband while Shoba 'treated the house as if it were a hotel'. (Lahiri 6). This is evidence to show that Shukumar's motivation is love and he still desires to stay in his marriage.
Shukumar's obstacle is that he is ignorant of Shoba's source of unhappiness and this has caused a rift in their relationship. He is oblivious of the extent of Shoba's discontent with him. The narrative says; 'In the beginning, he had believed that it would pass, that he and Shoba would get through it all somehow. She was only thirty-three. She was strong, on her feet again.' (Lahiri 5). Shoba expresses her indifference to Shukumar when she does not bother to look beautiful for him but she does not reveal her source of discontent nor does she directly voice her dissatisfaction. (Lahiri 1-2). Shukumar is ignorant of Shoba's distancing herself from him when he wrongly assumes that Shoba is too busily preoccupied with her work to make efforts to look good for him.
Shukumar's obstacle is his misconception that Shoba needs him. He deceives himself when he voices his confident opinion that she desires him to be around the house when the electricity is cut off. Shoba ignores his statement and Shukumar's obstacle causes him to overlook the signs of Shoba's cold attitude towards him. Another sign of their disunity and aloof attitudes lies in the fact that they did not celebrate Christmas that year. Shukumar's mistake was in the misconception that Shoba and himself would heal over the tragedy of losing their firstborn. Shoba's attitude shows that she was hiding her bereavement in her work and distant attitude towards Shukumar.
Shukumar's deep bereavement fro his firstborn is an obstacle because