A series of strikes continue, up to twenty-one days. Lola fights a battle with the Afghan princesses over the last jars in the market. Finally, the shops don’t open at all. Roadblocks stop traffic and prevent goods from being transported. The GNLF boys charge money to be let through. Lola thinks of India as a concept, hope, or desire—and how it is crumbling.
It is interesting to note that Lola thinks of India as a concept, because at its core it is a nation made up by the British—a conglomeration of states, cultures, and identities. In a way, she is correct, because part of the nation that had been established by the British is crumbling, for the purpose of creating a new state for the Nepalis.
Lola and Noni finish their library books but could not return them. Tourists stop arriving. Children are taken out of boarding schools in the area. There is no water, gas, kerosene, or electricity. When the fridge turns off, the sisters are forced to cook all of the perishable food at once, because it is their maid’s day off.
Opening with the fact that the women could not return their library books shows the divide between the privileged and the poor—Lola and Noni are concerned about books while people aren’t even able to get water. Yet now, for the first time, Lola and Noni experience true hardship.
A group of boys from the GNLF search for shelter, and see Lola and Noni’s kitchen window open. They climb through, asking the women to buy their calendars and cassettes for the movement. Lola tells Noni in English not to give them anything, thinking they won’t understand. But they do understand her English, while she doesn’t understand their Nepali.
Again the importance of language comes into play. The Nepalis understand Lola’s English, while she doesn’t understand theirs, demonstrating how society has up until this point prioritized the comfort of English speakers over the Nepali culture.
In the end, Lola and Noni buy three calendars and two cassettes. The boys then refuse to leave. They eat all the food and sleep on the floor. Lola and Noni barricade the door to their bedroom. The boys laugh at them, saying that they are too old to worry. The sisters’ watchman does not arrive, which Lola takes as proof that he is working with the Nepalis.
Even in attempting to provide better conditions for their people, the Nepalis prove that poverty is still often an inescapable cycle. Even though they are the ones causing the strike, they are also the ones who are hit the hardest. They have to find other sources of food and means of living, even if it means stealing and forcing people to buy GNLF merchandise from them. All of this is in the hope of creating a fairer society for themselves.
The boys leave with the rice, the soap, the oil, and the garden’s output of tomato chutney. Below the steps they notice how Lola and Noni’s property stretches into a lawn. Within a month, a hut appears in the middle of their vegetable patch. They yell at the boys, saying this is their land. The boys say that it is unoccupied land. The sisters’ threats to call the police are taken with shrugs.
The exchange between the sisters and the Nepalis over the hut that has sprung up on their land is a particularly ironic one, as it mirrors arguments made by the colonizers—colonizers who enabled Lola and Noni to live in comfort for so long at the expense of those who were not wealthy.