Boori Ma, Sweeper of the Stairwell, like Mr. Pirzada, is a victim of Partition and has been deported to Calcutta as a result. She sleeps under the stairs of the building where she is allowed to live, functioning as a doorman, or durwan, for the building. Boori Ma is a character, but she’s hard to like, as are the people in her building. Boori Ma wants to be special, as evidenced in her reaction to finding herself terribly itchy one morning:
“Boori Ma preferred to think that what irritated her bed, what stole her sleep, what burned like peppers across her thinning scalp and skin, was of a less mundane origin.”
Do you believe that Boori Ma was truly rich before partition?
Did Boori Ma’s neighbors view her as a human being? Do you think she makes them uncomfortable, and if so, for what reasons?
When the neighbor tries to help Boori Ma by offering to buy her new bedding, what is her motivation?