After reading The Palace of Illusions last year, I was looking forward to read more of the the author’s work. That is why when I spotted this book in the library I picked it up. The Book – Arranged Marriage is a collection of short stories centering around Indian women. In most of the stories the protagonist is a woman with Indian roots, settled in America and the story is about her tumultuous journey of life where she is trying to strike a balance between her deep rooted Indian beliefs and modern American outlook.
The book has a collection of 10 stories, each of the story is different from the other and yet has something in common. Most of them are sad, some disturbing yet profound. These are stories which will leave an indelible mark in your mind and will leave you pondering. I have only one qualm about the book, as to why the author has stressed more on the negatives of Arranged Marriages. Arranged Marriage is a practice prevalent hugely in India. It is often labeled as an orthodox practice and mostly people from the West find it very difficult to understand, as how such a system could work in first place! But, it HAS worked and I have seen living examples of it. So, I do not think it is fair to explore only the grim side of Arranged Marriages.
The author through her stories stresses on the importance of independence in life, of women in particular which I believe is important for every women irrespective of nationality. Even though it is written in Indian context, it stresses on problems which is common to women from all walks of life and so, I think ‘Arranged Marriage’ doesn’t seem to be a very appropriate title.
Having said that, I must admit that I could relate to most stories be it ‘The Bats’ where the woman despite all odds remains faithful to his wife beater husband or ‘The Ultrasound’ where the woman is asked to abort her child since she is a baby girl or ‘Affair‘ where a husband leaves her wife for another woman. I personally liked ‘Meeting Mrinal’ where the woman finally accepts her fate and decides to move on in life. Since the author lives in America, I believe that it must have influenced the author’s own perspective and the way has brought out the sentiments of the women in the stories.
These poignant stories did move me and made me contemplate about various things in life which I take for granted, but, for many it is a dream.
This review was also posted on Pages