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“... I really tried to feel their panic. I closed my eyes and placed myself in a dark, claustrophobic space. I tried to feel the cold, dank water rising to my ankles. When I was writing the section where they are running out of food, I wrote on an empty stomach so I could find the right descriptions for the hunger and the panic they are experiencing.
- Chitra Divakaruni
is reading One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni for December 6.
An earthquake traps nine people of different races together in the basement of the Indian Consulate’s Visa Office in California. A graduate student named Uma, an old Chinese woman dressed in a traditional tunic and her teenage granddaughter, an affluent Caucasian couple, an African American ex-soldier, a young Muslim American and two visa office employees.
A loud rumble rises from the floor, and rubble falling in the darkness from the collapsing ceiling and walls leaves the nine survivors shrouded in darkness. They can hear the sound of running water as the office begins to flood, there is little food and the psychological stress of the situation begins to take its toll.
As times passes and the situation becomes dire, the nine try to figure out how they are going to survive. Maybe because Uma had brought a copy of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales with her to read as she waited for her visa to be processed, she is inspired to say, “We can each tell an important story from our lives.” They stared back at her like she was “half-witted.” She tells them that she believes that everyone encounters sometime in their life at least one amazing thing.
Reluctantly, each person tells their personal story and discovers the profound power it has.
Divakaruni talks about her book at Sacramento State University.