Fasting, Feasting

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Anamika is the beautiful, graceful, intelligent daughter of Lily Aunty and Bakul Uncle, niece to MamaPapa and cousin to Uma. Kind and sweet, Anamika is everyone in the family's favorite girl, and as children, Uma and Aruna fight for her affections. An excellent student, Anamika wins a scholarship to Oxford, but her parents don't even consider allowing her to go. When the girls reach adolescence, marriage proposals abound for Anamika. Looking for a man who matches Anamika's accomplishments, Lily Aunt and Bakul Uncle marry her off to a rich, educated man from another town. The marriage proves tragic for Anamika, whose husband and mother-in-law treat her like a household servant, beating her on a regular basis. She becomes infertile from beatings, and after twenty-five years of marriage is found burned to death on her porch. The novel never reveals whether Anamika's death was suicide or murder.

Anamika Quotes in Fasting, Feasting

The Fasting, Feasting quotes below are all either spoken by Anamika or refer to Anamika. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Houghton Mifflin edition of Fasting, Feasting published in 2000.
Chapter 6 Quotes

Uma said, ‘I hope they will send her back. Then she will be home with Lily Aunty again, and happy.’
‘You are so silly, Uma,’ Mama snapped (…) ‘How can she be happy if she is sent home? What will people say? What will they think?’

Related Characters: Uma (speaker), Mama (speaker), Anamika, Lily Aunty and Bakul Uncle
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we learn what happens to Uma's stunningly beautiful, intelligent cousin, Anamika. Although she's awarded a prestigious scholarship to Oxford, Anamika is forbidden to attend university--instead, she's married off to a rich, cruel man, beaten, and rendered infertile. Uma wishes that Anamika's husband would send her away (i.e., back home to her mother); but when Uma raises such a possibility, Mama calls her a fool. Anamika must remain with her husband, Mama insists, or "people will talk."

The passage illustrates Mama's insensitivity to people's individual suffering when it doesn't fit her worldview, as well as her slavish devotion to public opinion. It doesn't matter to Mama that Anamika is suffering, or that she was denied a life of education and liberty at Oxford--the only thing Mama cares about is the opinion of other people (who would, supposedly, be shocked if they heard that Anamika had left her husband). Mama's horizons are so narrow, so confined to the opinions of her neighbors, that she can't conceive of a world in which Anamika's going off to Oxford independently would be the "right thing."


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Chapter 8 Quotes

Uma’s ears were already filled to saturation with Mama’s laments, and Aruna’s little yelps of laughter were additional barbs (…) The tightly knit fabric of family that had seemed so stifling and confining now revealed holes and gaps that were frightening—perhaps the fabric would not hold, perhaps it would not protect after all. There was cousin Anamika’s example, the one no one wanted to see: but how could one not?

Related Characters: Uma, Aruna, Mama, Anamika
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Uma has been married off to an old, fat man, who immediately runs off with Uma's family dowry and never returns. Uma's Mama is humiliated by the experience; she mourns that she'll never marry Uma off to anyone. The experience is especially crushing for Uma because Uma's sister, Aruna, is beautiful, and has lots of handsome, wealthy suitors to choose from.

Uma's thought process is complex: she's both embarrassed by her experience with the old man, and relieved. Uma lives in a community where to be a woman is to be married: her failure to find a husband is treated as a hideous problem, almost a crime. And yet Uma recognizes that marriage, for all the emphasis that her culture puts on it, doesn't seem so great: even the beautiful Anamika had her life ruined when she married. Maybe the single life isn't so bad after all.

Chapter 13 Quotes

She had been married for twenty-five years, the twenty-five that Uma had not. Now she is dead, a jar of grey ashes. Uma, clasping her knees, can feel that she is still flesh, not ashes. But she feels like ash—cold, colourless, motionless ash.

Related Characters: Uma, Anamika
Page Number: 152
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Uma learns that her cousin, Anamika, has died a horrible death. Anamika is a symbol of her culture and faimly's repressiveness and sexism: in spite of her intelligence and potential, she was barred from studying at university, and ended up married to a brutal, cruel man. Now, Anamika is dead--whether from murder or suicide isn't clear (and there's no indication that anybody particularly cares about solving the crime, another symbol of the bias against women in Uma's society). No matter how Anamika died, her manner of her death could be said to symbolize the direction her life took: during her 25 years of marriage, she slowly lost her "color," her her warmth, her liveliness--she "burned out" under the weight of cruel oppression and abuse. And now Uma feels alone and depressed in a new way--she hasn't had to suffer under a husband like Amanika's, but she still feels just as "ashen" as Amanika herself.

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Anamika Character Timeline in Fasting, Feasting

The timeline below shows where the character Anamika appears in Fasting, Feasting. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon her family are nearing marrying age. Everyone’s favorite cousin, the gracious, beautiful and intelligent Anamika, wins a scholarship to Oxford, but her parents, Lila Aunty and Bakul Uncle, do not... (full context)
Chapter 7
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Right after Anamika’s marriage, Mama is sending pictures of Uma out to relatives and friends, who are all... (full context)
Chapter 8
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon and protect its members. She thinks of the abuse and isolation that her cousin Anamika suffers, in the marriage that her own parents had arranged, as an example of the... (full context)
Chapter 9
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon use her alone time to call a friend, but realizes she has nobody to call—Anamika is unreachable, Aruna is too busy with her own life, and Ramu is nowhere to... (full context)
Chapter 13
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon the electricity comes on and Mali returns, they open the telegram. It states simply: “Anamika is dead.” Soon after, they hear the full story: Anamika was found burned to death... (full context)
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
Lila Aunty and Bakul Uncle come to deposit Anamika’s ashes down the sacred river that runs alongside their town - the very one that... (full context)