Excerpt from The Unknown Errors of Our Lives by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Unknown Errors of Our Lives

by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The Unknown Errors of Our Lives
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2001, 268 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2002, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Excerpt
The Unknown Errors of Our Lives

Ruchira is packing when she discovers the notebook in a dusty alcove of her apartment. It is sandwiched between a high school group photo in which she smiles tensely at the camera, her hair hacked short around her ears in a style that was popular that year, and a box of brittle letters, the sheets tinged with blue and smelling faintly of sweet betel nut, from her grandmother, who is now dead. For a moment she fingers the book's limp purple cover, its squished spiral binding, and wonders what's inside, it's been that long since she wrote in it. Then she remembers. Of course! It's her book of errors, from her midteens, a time she thinks back on now as her Earnest Period.

She imagines telling Biren about it. "I was a gawky girl with a mouth full of braces and a head full of ideas for self-improvement."

"And then?" he would ask.

"Then I turned twenty-six, and decided I was perfect just the way I was."

In response, Biren would laugh his silent laugh, which began at the upturned outer edges of his eyes and rippled through him like wind on water. He was the only person she knew who laughed like that, soundlessly, offering his whole body to the act. It made her heart feel like a popcorn popper where all the kernels have burst into neon yellow. She'd respond with a small smile, the kind she hoped made her appear alluring and secretive, but inside she'd be weak with gratitude that he found her so funny.

That, and the way he looked at her paintings. Because otherwise she doesn't think she could have agreed to marry him.

****

To think that none of this would have happened, that she wouldn't be sitting here this beautiful rainy morning, pale blue like jacarandas, packing, getting ready to move out of her Berkeley apartment into their newlywed condo in San Francisco in two weeks, if she hadn't mumbled an ungracious agreement when her mother said, "Why don't you meet him, Ru? Kamala Mashi writes so highly of him. Meet him once and see how you like each other." Ruchira shudders when she realizes how close she had come to saying No, she wasn't interested, she'd rather use the time to go to Lashay's and get her hair done. Just because Aunt Kamala had written, Not only is the boy just two years older than our Ruchira and handsome looking, 173 centimeters tall, and holds a fast-rising job in the renowned Charles Schwab financial company, he is also a nephew of the Boses of Tullygunge--you recall them, a fine, upright family--and to top it all he has intelligently decided to follow our time-tested traditions in his search for a bride. It would have been the worst error of her life, and she wouldn't even have known it. It saddens her to think of all the errors people make (she has been musing over such things lately)--the unknown errors of their lives, the ones they can never put down in a book and are therefore doomed to repeat.

But she had shown up at the Café Trieste, sullen in old blue jeans and a severe ponytail that yanked her eyebrows into a skeptic arch, and met Biren, and been charmed.

"It's because you were so wary, even more than me," she told him later. "You'd been reading--wasn't it one of those depressingly highminded Russians?"

"Dostoevski. Brought along for the precise purpose of impressing you."

"And for the first fifteen minutes of our conversation, you kept your finger in the book, marking your place, as though you couldn't wait to get back to it."

"You mean it wasn't my suave Johnny Depp looks that got you? I'm disappointed."

"Dream on," she said, and gave him a little push. Actually, she'd been rather taken by the stud he wore in his ear. Its small, beckoning glint in the smoke-fogged café had made him seem foreign and dangerous, set him apart from the Indian men she knew, at least the ones who would have agreed to meet a daughter-of-a-friend-of-a-distant-relative for late afternoon coffee with matrimony in mind. But most of all she liked that he admitted up front to feeling sheepish, sitting like this in a cafe after having declared, for all those arrogant years (just as she had), that he'd never have anything to do with an arranged marriage.

Copyright 2001 by Chitra Banjeree Divakaruni. This section first appeared in the publication Prairie Schooner in Spring 2001.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Here I Am
    Here I Am
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    With almost all the accoutrements of upper middle-class suburban life, Julia and Jacob Bloch fit the...
  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Under the Udala Trees
by Chinelo Okparanta

Raw, emotionally intelligent and unflinchingly honest--a triumph.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.