An aging doorkeeper (durwan) of a building located inside an Indian village takes her job perhaps more seriously than is warranted and as a result, those in her building expect more and they then honor her more for the extra work, for the stories she shares of the luxuries and comforts from her life before to which they are not accustomed.
She is more than a doorkeeper. She is a dream, an image of days gone by that they'd rather not consider or remember or hope for again, and she is there, a dream and she's safe as long as she tells her stories and sweeps the floors and keeps the stairwell clean.
But then, she is robbed and then her building is robbed while she is out searching for the person who took her life savings. At that point, the tenants of her building turn on her. The perfection of the dream she personified--shattered. The story concludes with her tenants in search of a "real" durwan...and we know, as the readers, that they simply don't see what they already have in this woman, a woman more real than anyone wants to believe.
This was a great read from Lahiri's Pulitzer prize winning collection of stories. I can now see why she got all this hype!