WHERE THE STORM RESTS

WHERE THE STORM RESTS is the story of a guilt-ridden woman at odds with everyone including herself, who goes to India to escape her problems but instead creates havoc in a Ganges village before discovering the truth about her Self and finding peace-of-mind and love. The story is set in India a couple of decades after independence.

OUTLINE

Jean Sherwood, a sociologist, goes to India on a sabbatical year to look at population problems in towns and villages, but really to get away from a mentally-sick husband. She is accompanied by a colleague, Geoffrey Bascombe, a drunken lecher who has one main idea -- to seduce Mrs Sherwood.
But he finds even the Taj Mahal fails to move her. She starts touring rural villages in the hottest season with a derelict car. In Manupur, a rundown Ganges village, Bascombe falls sick. A nearby mission doctor, Harman, an obvious alcoholic, refuses to treat him. He dies of bubonic plague.
Jean Sherwood stays to help Manupur fight the plague; she organises the villagers to stop the army from razing their hovels; she defies high-caste Hindus by teaching untouchables in the school; she quarrels with Harman, who is as much a psychic cripple as herself.
Harman reluctantly allows her to work in the mission hospital where she fights with everyone to get her way -- the orderly, Pyarilal, the nurses, the sweepers. One of the nurses, Kamla, becomes her friend and confides in her.
Harman is called by Prasad, the richest landowner in the district, to treat his son, Motilal, who has typhoid. He is brought into the hospital where Jean surprises him making love to Kamla, an untouchable, and warns him off.
When one of Prasad's village houses collapses and traps a boy, Harman risks his life to amputate a leg and save him, which impresses Jean. She forces Prasad to do the unthinkable and pay Vikram, an untouchable, compensation. The boy finds work in the hospital and idolises Jean.
Kamla becomes pregnant and Jean projects much of her own sexual guilt-complex on to the girl, advising her to have an abortion. She drowns herself rather than lose the child that way. Jean realises how wrong she was when Motilal defies his father, renounces his caste and his inheritance for love then comes to work in the hospital with untouchables.
Jean begins a battle to give untouchables their own well. Hitherto they have had to beg water from higher castes. Building the well provokes a bloody battle between the caste Hindus and untouchables in which Motilal is killed.
Harman falls ill and is sent to recuperate in Kashmir by standing in for the local missionary doctor. Jean goes, too, and there they declare their love.
They make a pilgrimage to a sadhu (holy man) in a mountain cave in the Karakorams. Jean is injured and treated by the sadhu. She confesses everything to him: about running away from her sick husband in England, about Bascombe's death, about Manupur and how she caused the deaths of Kamla and Motilal and was now committing adultery with Harman. He tells her that to find peace she must shed her sin and retrace her life path.
When Harman decides to stay in the Kashmir mission, she feels her duty lies in Manupur helping the village. There she finds she is pregnant and falls sick during the hottest days of the year. Pyarilal sends for Harman who arrives in time to save her, though she loses their baby.
It is Harman's turn to confess to her that he had left England after being struck off for carrying out an abortion on a nurse with whom he had made love and who died. An Indian mission was his only escape; he married a nurse and came to India where she died in childbirth.
Jean realises her personal salvation depends on going home and caring for her husband. Harman says she will find her way back to India once she has resolved her problems. He knows this is what she feels, too, when he finds she has left the silver cross given her by the holy man on the altar of the mission church.

END


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