The Inheritance of Loss

The Inheritance of Loss

The judge’s granddaughter. Before arriving at Cho Oyu, she had attended St. Augustine’s convent, where she was “Anglicized” (taught British customs and ideas) just as the judge had been. At age eight, Sai’s mother and Sai’s father are killed in a bus accident, and the nuns bring Sai to Cho Oyu to live with her grandfather, whom she had never met previously. Over the years, she becomes friends with Noni (who tutors her), Lola, Father Booty, and Uncle Potty—the judge’s neighbors who are also upper-class, and who share English traditions with her like celebrating Christmas and listening to the BBC. The judge is stern with Sai, and so she feels closer to the cook, who often treats her like a daughter. When Sai is sixteen, she gets a new tutor, Gyan. The two have a fast and full romance, before realizing that their cultural differences are too great. Sai is naïve and somewhat self-absorbed, but she is also smart and understands that many of Gyan’s issues with her have little to do with her, and more to do with the circumstances of her upbringing and her privilege.

Sai Quotes in The Inheritance of Loss

The The Inheritance of Loss quotes below are all either spoken by Sai or refer to Sai. 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:
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of The Inheritance of Loss published in 2006.
Chapter 2 Quotes

They surveyed the downfall of wealth with satisfaction, and one of the policemen kicked a shaky apparatus of pipes leading from the jhora stream, bandaged here and there with sopping rags.

Related Characters: The Judge / Jemubhai, Sai
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:
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An accident, they said, and there was nobody to blame—it was just fate in the way fate has of providing the destitute with a greater quota of accidents for which nobody can be blamed.

Related Characters: Sai, Biju, The Cook
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 6 Quotes

This underneath, and on top a flat creed: cake was better than laddoos, fork spoon knife better than hands, sipping the blood of Christ and consuming a wafer of his body was more civilized than garlanding a phallic symbol with marigolds. English was better than Hindi.

Related Characters: Sai
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 12 Quotes

It was important to draw the lines properly between classes or it harmed everyone on both sides of the great divide.

Related Characters: Sai, The Cook, Noni, Lola
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 21 Quotes

Noni: “Very unskilled at drawing borders, those bloody Brits.”

Mrs. Sen, diving right into the conversation: “No practice, na, water all around them, ha ha.”

Related Characters: Sai, Noni, Lola, Mrs. Sen
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 26 Quotes

It was a masculine atmosphere and Gyan felt a moment of shame remembering his tea parties with Sai on the veranda, the cheese toast, queen cakes from the baker, and even worse, the small warm space they inhabited together, the nursery talk—

It suddenly seemed against the requirements of his adulthood.

Related Characters: Sai, Gyan
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 27 Quotes

“You are like slaves, that’s what you are, running after the West, embarrassing yourself. It’s because of people like you we never get anywhere.”

Related Characters: Gyan (speaker), Sai
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 29 Quotes

Don't you have any pride? Trying to be so Westernized. They don't want you!!!! Go there and see if they will welcome you with open arms. You will be trying to clean their toilets and even then they won't want you.

Related Characters: Gyan (speaker), Sai
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 31 Quotes

But the child shouldn't be blamed for a father's crime, she tried to reason with herself, then. But should the child therefore also enjoy the father's illicit gain?

Related Characters: Sai
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:
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There was no system to soothe the unfairness of things; justice was without scope […] For crimes that took place in the monstrous dealings between nations, for crimes that took place in those intimate spaces between two people without a witness, for these crimes the guilty would never pay. There was no religion and no government that would relieve the hell.

Related Characters: Sai, Noni, Lola
Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 40 Quotes

There were houses like this everywhere, of course, common to those who had struggled to the far edge of the middle class—just to the edge, only just, holding on desperately—but were at every moment being undone, the house slipping back, not into the picturesque poverty that tourists liked to photograph but into something truly dismal—modernity proffered in its meanest form, brand-new one day, in ruin the next.

Related Characters: Sai, Gyan
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:
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The chink she had provided into another world gave him just enough room to kick; he could work against her, define the conflict in his life that he felt all along, but in a cotton-woolly way.

Related Characters: Sai, Gyan
Page Number: 285
Explanation and Analysis:
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Sai Character Timeline in The Inheritance of Loss

The timeline below shows where the character Sai appears in The Inheritance of Loss. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Settled in the mist of Mount Kanchenjunga, Sai and her grandfather, the judge, are sitting on the veranda of their home, which is... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Sai looks out into the mist and notices that her algebra tutor, Gyan, is more than... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
In the hall mirror Sai notices herself. She kisses her reflection. Sai ponders the melancholy situation of the giant squid,... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
...might as well be dead, if not for his son Biju who lives in America. Sai takes the tea to the judge, who grumbles that there is nothing to eat with... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
One of the boys points the gun at Mutt, and Sai goes to get the judge’s rifles, which he earned in the Indian Civil Service. The... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
The boys finish by making the judge, Sai, and the cook say “I am a fool” and “Jai Gorkha” before leaving with Sai... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
These events take place in February of 1986. The newspapers describe a gathering insurgency. Where Sai, the judge, and the cook live, Kalimpong, the Indian-Nepalese are treated like a minority, even... (full context)
Chapter 2
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
...the cook’s hut, suspicious because they assume that robberies are often the fault of servants. Sai goes along as well. The cook’s hut is very bare, and Sai is pained at... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
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Sai remembers how the cook would often describe how Biju was naughty but had a good... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Sai had once ordered an inflatable globe from National Geographic, which traveled all the way from... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
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The policemen, having exposed the cook’s poverty, leave. Sai is embarrassed at seeing the cook’s hut, a place into which she rarely goes. She... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
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Sai recalls when she first met the cook—nine years earlier, when she had left St. Augustine’s... (full context)
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In the present, Sai expresses her frustration at the way the police left the cook’s hut, and the mess... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Home and Belonging Theme Icon
The narrative slips back to Sai’s arrival at Cho Oyu, when she is eight years old. The cook asks where she’s... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
The narrative jumps back even further, explaining the circumstances of Sai’s parents’ deaths. Sai’s father had been a resident at the Society for Interplanetary Travel in... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Sai’s mother and father (referred to as Mrs. and Mr. Mistry) had met in a public... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
...India. They had been impressed by Mr. Mistry and asked him to come to Moscow. Sai, only six at the time, was left in India and entrusted to the same convent... (full context)
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Hearing the news at the convent, Sai has a hard time picturing Moscow. The nuns try to console her, but she admits... (full context)
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The nuns worry about what to do with Sai. Under the emergency contact information in their register, they find the judge’s name and address,... (full context)
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Sai says goodbye to the nuns at the convent, who had taught her fear and humiliation... (full context)
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A nun delivers Sai to Cho Oyu. On the train they see a panorama of village life, and on... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
The nun and Sai part ways at the base of the mountains, just as night falls. Sai travels the... (full context)
Chapter 7
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When Sai first arrives at Cho Oyu, the cook had made a huge dinner for her, modeling... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
The judge finally asks Sai her name. She tells him, and compliments Mutt, which pleases the judge. The judge tells... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Later that night, Sai lies in bed under a tablecloth because the sheets had worn out. She would later... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Across the hall from Sai’s room, the judge lies awake in bed as well. He realizes that Sai’s arrival has... (full context)
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Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
In the morning, the judge instructs the cook to bring Sai to meet her new tutor, Noni. On the road to Noni’s house, the cook points... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...from Cho Oyu, she is terrified that the boys will also come to Mon Ami. Sai remarks that they have a watchman, but Lola tells her that he is Nepali, and... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Back at Kanchenjunga, the cook drops Sai off at Mon Ami for her tutoring with Noni. In between dropping her off and... (full context)
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The cook also told many of these lies to Sai. He would tell her that the judge was born a rich man, and that he... (full context)
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The narrative flashes forward once more to the cook’s stories. He brags to Sai about how many servants there had been before. The cook himself had begun working at... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Sai’s routine continues in Kalimpong until she is sixteen. Noni and Sai ponder a physics textbook,... (full context)
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Sai explains that the cook talks about his wife and Biju, and about their family affairs... (full context)
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Noni asks Sai if she wants to meet people her own age; Sai responds instead that she wants... (full context)
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Noni and Sai attempt physics a few more times, but to no avail. Noni tells the judge that... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...has finished his bachelor’s degree but hasn’t yet been able to find a job—to be Sai’s tutor. It takes two hours for him to walk to Cho Oyu, and at first,... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
The cook sets out study tools in a semicircle for Sai and Gyan, and this reminds him of the clinical atmosphere at the doctor’s. He would... (full context)
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During Sai and Gyan’s first lesson, the cook brings in tea and fried cheese toast. He then... (full context)
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Later, the cook remarks to Sai that it is strange that Gyan is Nepali—he would have thought Gyan would be Bengali.... (full context)
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That night, Sai sits and stares at her reflection. She wonders at her own face and body, and... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Sai becomes interested in other people’s love affairs. She asks the cook about the judge’s wife... (full context)
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Sai then questions the judge about her grandmother. The judge rebuffs her questions, telling her not... (full context)
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In the present, the judge looks up from his chess and sees Sai climbing a tree, waiting to see Gyan approach. Each succeeding week of tutoring, their anticipation... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...during Diwali. He misses its peace. When he visited his father, however, he never noticed Sai’s jealousy of the cook’s love for his son. (full context)
Chapter 18
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Two months after Gyan arrives to tutor Sai, a monsoon starts to build. In a flash, it arrives. The wind blows the trees... (full context)
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...their clothes and in their books. The TVs and phones in the neighborhood stop working. Sai enjoys succumbing to this loss of modernity. At Mon Ami, Lola resigns to not being... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...storms, Gyan walks to Cho Oyu. He worries that he might not be paid, because Sai has fallen far behind in the syllabus—though his worry might, in reality, come from a... (full context)
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Gyan finds Sai reading the newspaper (ironed dry by the cook) and wearing her kimono. She had just... (full context)
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In the present, the judge scoffs at his past self, and leaves the dinner table. Sai apologizes for his behavior, but Gyan is too preoccupied staring at her. The cook clears... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Left alone, Sai and Gyan read for a bit longer in an overly focused fashion, until Gyan is... (full context)
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Sai walks by the judge’s door on her way to the bathroom. She wanders in and... (full context)
Chapter 20
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Whenever the storms pause, Gyan returns to Cho Oyu. He and Sai measure their collar bones, eyelashes, and veins. They continue to play their game until Gyan... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Sai and Gyan do not pay attention to the political rumblings that are mounting daily. Posters... (full context)
Chapter 21
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...be taught in the schools, and Lola responds by saying that they’ll begin statehood demands. Sai is sitting beside the sisters, but she is not really listening; instead, she thinks of... (full context)
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
Sai continues to think of her afternoons with Gyan, and how they melt into each other... (full context)
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
Noni asks Sai if she has any news, to try and change the topic a second time. Sai... (full context)
Chapter 23
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Gyan and Sai’s romance begins to flourish. They call each other a variety of nicknames. They continue to... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
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Together Sai and Gyan go to cultural institutes, the zoo, and the monastery on Durpin Dara. From... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
Gyan tells Sai a little of his own family history. They had left their village in Nepal and... (full context)
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Sai asks about Gyan’s father, but he does not reply. When Sai returns home in the... (full context)
Chapter 25
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
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...be measured for a winter coat. The house grows cold but remains damp. At Christmas, Sai joins Father Booty, Uncle Potty, Lola, and Noni at Mon Ami. They drink and sing,... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
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That night, Sai gets into bed with her new socks. They are the same design used by Sherpas... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...he sees old college friends that he has lately ignored because of his romance with Sai. (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
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...the scene as if it were a documentary. He feels the desire to leave with Sai and go somewhere far away and free from history and debt. He feels cynical—like his... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
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Home and Belonging Theme Icon
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...At the same time, Gyan feels ashamed of the tea parties he has had with Sai, complete with cheese toast and queen cakes. Gyan then voices an opinion that the Gorkha... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...must walk a long way in the cold for such a small amount of money. Sai comments on his lateness, and he becomes annoyed with her. She begins to talk about... (full context)
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They both begin to yawn—Sai yawns playfully; Gyan yawns in spite of himself in response. Sai asks if he is... (full context)
Chapter 29
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Gyan leaves as he hears Sai beginning to sob. He slams the gate behind him. He wonders at himself, knowing that... (full context)
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Some time later, Gyan returns to Cho Oyu and apologizes to Sai. After some coaxing, she accepts his apology. He tells her that he can’t resist her.... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
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Sai also finds her anger returning. If Gyan argued against Christmas, he would have to argue... (full context)
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...his college friends about how he is forced to tutor to earn money. He mocks Sai and the judge. His tongue, loosened by alcohol, reveals a description of their house, the... (full context)
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Gyan questions why he shouldn’t betray Sai. She only speaks English and pidgin Hindi. She can’t eat with her hands, has never... (full context)
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Gyan is sure, however, that Sai is proud of her lack of Indian-ness, so he tells his friends about the guns,... (full context)
Chapter 30
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...next day, he sent a telegram to the cook. His father was overjoyed, as was Sai, who knew that with Biju in America, the cook would give his affection to her. (full context)
Chapter 31
Poverty vs. Privilege Theme Icon
In March, Father Booty, Uncle Potty, Noni, Lola, and Sai take the Swiss Dairy jeep to exchange their library books at the Gymkhana Club before... (full context)
Power and Humiliation Theme Icon
On the road, Sai thinks of Gyan and their fight over Christmas, and how ugly it had been in... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
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...Far Pavilions and The Raj Quartet, because English writers writing about India turn their stomachs. Sai grows angry seeing older books like The Indian Gentleman’s Guide to Etiquette, which advocates segregation... (full context)
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Sai overhears Noni and the librarian trying to reckon with Christian sin and forgiveness in Crime... (full context)
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Father Booty, Uncle Potty, Noni, Lola, and Sai begin to hear a procession in the street, though they can’t understand what is being... (full context)
Chapter 32
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...years after they had last seen each other in person. It was a month before Sai arrived in Kalimpong, and they had gone to a restaurant in Darjeeling. They exchanged memories... (full context)
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The judge returned home to find the telegram regarding Sai’s parents’ deaths. He knew he would find comfort in her as a Westernized Indian. He... (full context)
Chapter 33
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Six months after Sai and the neighbors’ library trip, the Gymkhana Club is taken over by the GNLF. The... (full context)
Colonialism and Globalization Theme Icon
On the day of the library trip, Lola, Noni, Father Booty, Uncle Potty, and Sai try to find another restaurant to eat lunch. They go to Glenary’s, which serves Indian,... (full context)
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As they exit the restaurant, the procession is on its reverse trip. Sai is shocked when she spots Gyan in the procession. He sees her, and his expression... (full context)
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Sai arrives home and goes to bed without dinner, offending the cook, who thinks that she... (full context)
Chapter 34
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Father Booty isn’t comforted by Uncle Potty’s assurance, since Potty is undependable and an alcoholic. Sai grows angry at these circumstances, believing that this is Gyan and the GNLF’s doing. Her... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Gyan had been the last one to touch the guns, admiring them. Sai had told Gyan that the judge used to go hunting, as the cook had told... (full context)
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...the criminals. After he leaves, the judge tells the cook that they never find anyone. Sai continues to think of Gyan avoiding her. (full context)
Chapter 39
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Sai remembers how gentle she and Gyan had been with each other, and then how ferocious... (full context)
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Sai continues to hope for Gyan’s return. She reads Wuthering Heights and waits. She visits Uncle... (full context)
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Sai next goes to Mon Ami. Noni and Lola ask who is causing her distress, and... (full context)
Chapter 40
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Sai goes to the market, the music and video shop, and the classrooms in Kalimpong college,... (full context)
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Sai asks a woman passing by where Gyan lives. She gestures to a house ahead—a “small,... (full context)
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Sai is ashamed for Gyan. The house does not match Gyan’s English, his clothes, or his... (full context)
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A ten-year-old girl emerges from the hut. Sai asks if Gyan lives here. The girl is suspicious, and Sai explains that he is... (full context)
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Gyan asks Sai what she wants, and in that moment Sai remembers that she is angry with him.... (full context)
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Sai accuses Gyan of what the Nepalis are doing, saying that it is their fault Father... (full context)
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Sai criticizes Gyan for being a hypocrite, saying that he enjoyed cheese and chocolate at her... (full context)
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Sai begins to laugh as well, but then Gyan flashes back to anger. He wants to... (full context)
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Gyan realizes that he owes a lot to Sai, because she has defined what he was working against. Sai reads his thoughts, saying that... (full context)
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Gyan’s little sister reappears, and Gyan turns to take her back inside. Sai yells at her to tell Gyan’s parents what her brother has been up to, and... (full context)
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Sai worries about how she will be laughed at and thought of as a lunatic, while... (full context)
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When Sai arrives home, a woman is talking to the judge and the cook. She is the... (full context)
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The woman turns to Sai, but Sai turns away, in no mood to be kind. The cook shoos the woman... (full context)
Chapter 42
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...fact that he bribed her. His parents and grandmother warn him to stay away from Sai, as they could be at the mercy of her family. His grandmother also forbids Gyan... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Sai lies in her room, and she and Gyan both miss the defining protest of the... (full context)
Chapter 44
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...tries to calm himself, but he can’t manage to go to the market, and so Sai usually does. She searches for shops with a backdoor half open, or someone on the... (full context)
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...on her. The judge is sitting in a bath, the cook is churning butter, and Sai is sitting in her room thinking of Gyan. They do not see or hear a... (full context)
Chapter 46
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Sai looks out her window and sees the judge calling for Mutt. His voice becomes increasingly... (full context)
Chapter 49
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...fond moment with his wife: their glorious bicycle ride together. He realizes that in bringing Sai to Cho Oyu, he had been hoping to begin to erase his debts. (full context)
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The judge continues to search for Mutt with Sai and the cook’s help. Sai is glad to have another disguise for her distress over... (full context)
Chapter 51
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...didn’t think he had been negligent. He begins to weep and disappears into the forest. Sai sets out after him. (full context)
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...in the corner, and when the cook leaves, Gyan follows. He asks the cook how Sai is doing. The cook responds that she is upset over Mutt. Gyan promises to find... (full context)
Chapter 53
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...the judge’s food, not taking Mutt on walks, and cheating the judge out of money. Sai rushes out of her room and sees the judge beating the cook. She screams for... (full context)
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Sai thinks of escaping to Uncle Potty’s house. The narrator says that one day soon, when... (full context)
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Sai stands in the dark as it rains, drowning out the sound of the judge hitting... (full context)
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Sai wonders what will happen at Cho Oyu, but she already knows. The cook will back... (full context)
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Sai thinks of her father, the National Geographics, the judge’s journey, the cook’s journey, and Biju’s.... (full context)
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Sai and the cook hear the gate rattle. The cook offers to get it. Morning begins... (full context)