Harish is well aware of the power of gazeand uses it in different ways to make Virmati submissive. He does not let herappreciate anything and speak about it. When she comments about a picturedepicting the unity of Hindu, Muslim and Christian community, Harish scoldsher.
When she fails to find any beauty in the graves by the hill side of Nahan,he points it out to her and forces her to accept that they are beautiful.Literally, he forces her to abandon her gaze and substitute his gaze in itsplace. Kapur points out to this fact, “Virmati followed. Was it charming? Shesupposed it was.
He usually had an eye for the charming, beautiful, lovely,quaint, picturesque. She tried to see through his eyes when he pointed thingsout to her. After all these years she was getting quiet good at the exercise.”(Kapur, 190) Virmati’slife in Harish’s house as a co-wife with Ganga, the first wife is beyonddescription. Ganga’s gaze reveals her feelings to Virmati.
“When Ganga saw her,she would turn her face away, or what was worse, would stare intensely at her,her eyes moist, her lips trembling,her big red bindi flashingaccusingly.”(Kapur, 219) When Virmati conceives, Kishori Devi, her motherin-law, becomes so worried about the evil eye. When Virmati has an abortion, shethinks of the malevolent gaze of Ganga.Much later, because of partition and theaccompanied communal violence, Harish sends Ganga and the children with hismother to his native village. Virmati gets a chance to live alone with herhusband. When the tension subsides, Ganga tries to come back, but Virmatiasserts herself and makes her stay permanently in the village. Her assertion ofher rights could be understood from her gaze.
In the absence of Ganga, shegazes at Ganga’s clothes, “Virmati stood before Ganga’s open cupboard. Justseeing those saris made her sick. Each one of them reminded her of the woman,with her round face, round bindi and black kaajal-lined eyes staring fixedly ather with loathing.”(Kapur, 276) The saris represent Ganga and Virmati’sthrowing away the saris from the house, donating them to the refugees withoutdiscussing about the issue with Harish or Ganga, shows her self-assertion andthe symbolic ousting of Ganga.
So, this final gaze acts as an indicator of whatwould have happened further in the life of Virmati. As Kapur points out in theEpilogue, Ganga is finally and completely ousted from Harish’s house, thoughnot from his life.