The sky is a dark and heavy rock about to drop. Her light blue shade bleeds violently with grays and dark blues. I am kneeling before my open window.
Some short stories pull you in with their very first words. ‘From Joy We Come, Unto Joy We Return’, by Ami Blackwelder is one of those short stories. The story speaks to you, instantly, with a unique and captivating voice. This is dramatic fiction in short story-form at its very best. Blackwelder’s language flows and ripples beautifully through this tale of a woman stuck in a marriage, and in a society, that does not value who she is or what she wants. Only her obedience has value, and she must obey religion, tradition, and ultimately her husband.
The story is told from the point of view of its main character, an Indian woman named Sobha. We experience everything through her: the landscape and the village she lives in, the love she feels for her daughter and her friends, the hardship of her domestic life, and her longing for something else. There is exquisite detail here both in the descriptions of the world itself: spices, food, places, weather, towns, sky, and earth; and in the descriptions of Sobha’s emotions.
Blackwelder paints with her words, making you feel part of Sobha’s inner world, as well as her outer world – the environment and the characters feel close and real. And throughout the story there is a mounting sense of dread and desperation, with Blackwelder building carefully and skillfully towards the ending.
It comes as no surprise that this is an award winning story. It was honoured in the Best Fiction of UCF, Cypress Dome of 2007, and was also a semi-finalist in the Laurel Hemingway contest in 1997. ‘From Joy We Come, Unto Joy We Return’ is a highly recommended read: treat yourself to this short story for a taste of this writer’s gorgeous prose, and for the intimate peek into another world, and another woman’s life.