Arranged Marriage – Chitra Lekha Banerjee Divakaruni
Usually when I read a book from a writer whose works I have never read earlier – I tend to pick up more stuff from them to know them a bit better, guess this time it was a big mistake. I read her latest book (Draupadi’s version of Mahabharat) and decided to pick up her earlier books too – this one’s title too was temping and especially coming from an Indian author I was inclined to anyways like it for humor, Indian background, our own been there done that stuff thinking and all. But this one unfortunately turns out to be a frustrating account of a female stuck in a loveless marriage with an NRI (preferably someone working in California, USA) almost against her wishes in an Arranged Marriage. It isn’t a big book as it had a little less then 200 pages with almost a dozen odd stories, written all from the perspective of the girls involved, all of them from Calcutta and Bengali’s. Not that I have any issues from their being Bengali’s but I seriously have issues with all of them shouting out loud in all their accounts that “All Men Are Dogs”, I was like C’mon, this is 21st century we are talking here, where the women are fiercely independent, educated and take their lives head on now a days. There was a time when this used to happen – I would have still lived peacefully with these stories, mostly agreeing that yes it does happens but unfortunately not one story had anything positive to say about any of the husbands.
Even if you look around yourself in today’s time – it is quite possible that we do see a lot of unhappy couples going on with their loveless married life just for the heck of living in a society where we think of what others will think of us but still there are (some) good husbands who do love their wives, care about them, treat them as equals – what I was shocked about the book was that the writer couldn’t find one husband out of the dozen accounts she had written to be that good man. That was a little heartening for me. Even couple of stories with the typical patriarchal background (though convincing) but there too the villain was the Husband only treating his wife as a sex object, with no rights, live a life of maid and when he cant have her i.e. when she is expecting – he will happily find an alternate – I am like WTF, seriously. An utterly frustrating book that I will not recommend (after a long long time this became one of those very few books that I will have to rate low). I guess I will try her other Mythological Fictional works – in which she is too good. This was an epic disaster.