In the modern day, Uma is visiting the family’s neighbor Mrs. Joshi, who offers Uma homemade ice cream. Uma quickly eats two cups of ice cream, and when she leaves, Mrs. Joshi comments that Uma is still just like a child, even despite her advancing age.
Uma’s life has not forced her to grow up, as the lives of many women around her have done. Yet, Uma’s childlike nature, rather than being admired by those around her, becomes a point of scorn and reproach.
Right after Anamika’s marriage, Mama is sending pictures of Uma out to relatives and friends, who are all helping to find a marriage for Uma. Their neighbor, Mrs. Joshi, arranges for the Syal family from another town to come meet Uma. Against Uma’s resistance, Mama makes Uma dress up in a fancy sari and powder her face, and plait her hair. Mama reproaches Uma for never having learned how to cook or housekeep because she was so busy playing. When the young man comes with his sister, he shows no interest in Uma. After hearing no word after weeks, Mrs. Joshi comes to tell Mama that the Syal’s son would rather marry Aruna. Mama flares in anger at Mrs. Joshi and at the Syal family for the offensive offer to marry the younger daughter before the first is married. Nevertheless, Mama begins to notice that Aruna’s appeal is worth cultivating.
Mama thinks Uma has wasted her youth, because Mama judges the value of women only in the status of their marriage matches. Uma’s childhood preference for learning at the convent school and playing allow her no space in her family or society. The fact that the young man notices Aruna instead betrays not only a difference in beauty between the two sisters, but also a difference in dispositions. Aruna is ready to grow up and get out in the socially prescribed way. Uma doesn’t want to be treated like a child, yet she remains free and childlike, uninterested in society’s expectations.
MamaPapa respond to an ad in the newspaper for a family looking for a bride for their son. They meet the Goyal family, and the family makes an offer, asking that the dowry be given immediately to buy more property for their estate—which they promise to share between both families. Eager to marry Uma off, MamaPapa agree, and give the dowry. But a few weeks later, they receive word from the Goyal family that their son has decided to pursue his education instead. The dowry cannot be returned, for it has already been spent. Mrs. Joshi scolds Mama for not informing her sooner, as it is well known that the Goyal family routinely scams families. She tells Mama to be grateful that the marriage did not go through, for who knows what they might have done to Uma to get rid of her so they could scam more families.
Just as Anamika’s parents did not investigate her husband beyond merely his social status before marrying Anamika off, neither do MamaPapa think through their choice. Mrs. Joshi’s comment that Mama should be grateful that the marriage did not go through underlines the similarities in situations, yet with different outcomes. In both instance, calamity threatens to befall the daughters because of the haste of the parents to fulfill society’s expectations and customs. Yet, Uma never marries, and instead stays with her parents and remains safe, while Anamika does not.