At a Milestone
Indu Liberhan
Now That I'm Fifty by Bulbul Sharma Women Unlimited, 2012, 145 pp., 250
November 2012, volume 36, No 11

Now that I am Fifty by Bulbul Sharma is a collection of short stories about women who have entered the fifties and their experiences at reaching that milestone. The stories cover a wide variety of women, their varied psychological and emotional reactions on reaching an age where, for some the feeling that the better part of their life is behind them that time is running out and therefore a desire to break out of their nests and fly and for others the realization that entering the fifties—the fifty phobia—is not the end of life, life has a lot more to it.

Majority of the stories are set in the background of a traditional Indian joint family home where women took care of the house and looked after their men folk, elders and children. They had their set roles in the home and the pattern remained unchanged over the years—like Nimmi says in ‘Should She or Shouldn’t She’ that for the last 30 years she had watched her mother-in-law butter her husband’s toast and cut it into small bits at breakfast—the only change over the years being in the colour of the bread-from white to brown! The monotony of existence!

‘Strangers in the Park’ is about the dilemma faced by Sudha, who, having met a stranger in the park and having got talking on subjects like seedlings, grafting, manure about the various varieties of trees and flowers, finds herself ‘strangely alert and happy’. Should she be? Was it not very bold and reckless of her? What would the family say? All these thoughts go through her mind and keep her agitated as she continues to meet the stranger.

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