Bela emerges from her Brooklyn brownstone on her way to her job converting a dilapidated playground into a vegetable garden. She lives with ten other people in the single-family home—mostly artists and nomads who share similar values to Bela’s. Bela lives a transient life—she moves from place to place, making friends she never sees again after she leaves whatever town she’s moving on from. As protective as Bela is of her independent, itinerant lifestyle, she is nearing thirty-four now—she recognizes that she has been living half her life apart from her father, and sometimes craves a different pace, yet going home to Rhode Island always fills her with painful memories of Gauri. Everything in Bela’s life, she thinks, has been a reaction to Gauri’s abandonment; she lives how she does because of Gauri.
In this brief interlude, Lahiri allows her readers to see things from Bela’s point of view. Bela is quick to acknowledge that her rootless, transient existence is very much a reaction to the abandonment she suffered in her youth. Self-aware, self-sufficient, and for the most part self-assured, Bela is grateful for the life she has—although Lahiri allows Bela’s insecurities and fears to poke through, displaying her thought process at a crucial moment of decision in her life.