Sunday, March 11, 2012

Arranged Marriage

Author: Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni

Eleven short stories, each one engrossing and enlightening.  That is Arranged marriage in one sentence. I began to read the book hesitantly, for my first impression was a boring title by an NRI who had no other work . First impressions are not necessarily true, in fact I was blown away by the eleven stories.
Chitra Bannerjee brought alive two places, the suburban America and the crowded Calcutta , two places I have never been to. I can never go there, for the stories are set in the recent past. The characters in the stories are real, be it the helpless heroes, the chauvinistic old world men or the capricious, yet unafraid women; they are very real and vivid.
Magical titles; at least the titles gained a magical touch after reading the story; they gained a different shade at the end of each story.  What did you think the titles were? Philosophical? No, just mundane titles: The bats, the clothes, the door, what does it have to do with arranged marriage? Whatever it is, I cannot think of bats or clothes without thinking about Chitra Bannerjee's Arranged Marriage.
That perfect life is only an illusion; the women who are living in the developed nations have no better conditions than those living in India is the underlying theme apart from the Arranged marriages in each story. How far it is true? How far is it the author’s imagination? I have no answers for that. Times have changed, but the minds may not have.
The book is honest, so honest that it is shocking and pricking at times. It made me wonder if I would have done anything different had I been part of the story. Probably not. So strong is the characterization and attention for details that it is easy to fall into the mood created by the book.

Sometimes happy, sometimes sad. Just like an Arranged marriage.