Title: Arranged Marriage
Author: Chitra B. Divakaruni
Rating: 3/5 ★★★☆☆
One of the towering female writers of India, Divakaruni’s texts have always proved their merit in determining the ultimate question of female emancipation from the regulating forces of patriarchy by providing a narrative space for the feminist voices to flourish. This book is a collection of eleven short stories where the female protagonists coming from diverse strata of the society embarks on the journey of self-exploration as they begin to see themselves as an independent, evolving entities.
Arranged Marriage as a custom is prevalent in India which brings two strangers together and unites them in a sacred bond. It comes with a pre-conceived notion of men being superior to women and women are supposed to confine themselves within the realms of domesticity. Chitra B. Divakaruni looks at this tradition from a modern perspective where she talks about the struggles of an arranged marriage and not just limit her exploration to the Indian subcontinent but move overseas. The Bengali-American hybrid aspect in the stories highlights the situations in which women find themselves trapped within futile relationships even when they feel they are liberated from all chains by moving abroad.
For someone who is well acquainted with this tradition, I think I was able to relate to the stories on multiple levels. A Perfect Life was one of my favorites as I felt the deep connection with Meera, the protagonist. This story appealed to me because I was able to strike a chord with Meera and understand her agony. In spite of it appearing to be an emotional ride, the book plummeted down for me soon after the first five stories. During the latter part of the book, I felt a bit disconnected with the characters mixed within an overstretched plotline. Doors was one such story which left me in a fix and failed to convey the intentions with which it was written. But I am sure it’s a very subjective interpolation as it’s the beauty of the articulation which adds multiple layers to the theme.
Because of it’s high and lows this book remains a 3 star for me. This was a fast read as I read this in a day or two and I’m in a reading slump ever since. I am trying to get over this annoying break by hopping onto the festive bandwagon with an old favorite. Let me know in the comments what do you think of this book.