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The Gatekeeper’s Wife by Rukhsana Ahmad Summary


The Gatekeeper’s Wife” is a short story written by Rukhsana Ahmed. This story revolves around Annette; a British woman who after getting married had come to Pakistan with her husband. She used to spend her leisure time taking care of the animals in the zoo.

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The Gatekeeper’s Wife Text


The story starts with the mention of a hot summer day with a temperature of 110°. Annette, because of this year is disappointed and irritated at the same time. She amid this heat is adamant about going to the zoo. She in the meanwhile asks the driver about her husband’s arrival and replies in negation. Annette then arrives at the zoo and is welcomed by the gatekeeper. Annette loved the animals and often visited the zoo in the afternoon which astonished Hussain, the zoo attendant.

However the wife of the Consul General in Tehran who was fond of horses but soon after became a mentally ill person. Annette thought that Saleem, her husband, had changed and now irritating her had become his habit. Annette after her conversation with Saleem calls Hussain and inquires about the woman who stole Heera’s meat. She gets to know that the woman who stole meat from Heera was Maaja’s (Miraaj) the gatekeeper’s wife Tara.

Annette asks Hussain to set up a meeting with Tara. The other day she questions Tara why she had stolen the meat to which Tara replies that Heera won’t eat until she takes some meat. She tells Annette that her children were starving and even the cheetah wanted her to feed her children with this meat. The gatekeeper, Maaja had told Hussain how much power Annette had as she was responsible for the dismissal of the previous zoo attendant. Annette used to come every day to inspect the food for the animals as she was very fond of animals especially Heera; the cheetah.

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Like any other day Annette after inspecting the food was admiring Heera but then suddenly saw a tall, thin woman circling near the cage in the inner forbidden perimeter of the while railing. The woman silently made her way to Heera and stole Heera’s meat. Annette just stood there baffled as if she had received the shock of her life and left the zoo in a hurry. After reaching her home she tried to discuss the incident she witnessed with her husband who laughed it off after telling her a story of Mrs.

Annette declines to accept this answer and says that it must be because of the heat. Annetta after confronting the gatekeeper’s wife leaves the zoo. On a Thursday night, she goes with her husband to a barbeque party in Lahore. At the party, she is lost in her own world and thinks about many things including having no children, her house, Heera, the zoo, and Tara. She tries to eat some barbeque but it gets stuck in her throat and the story ends with her saying “It’s over, isn’t it?”.


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