Half the sky….

It is debatable –whether it is arranged marriage or love marriage? But it is beyond doubt that when an arranged marriage doesn’t click, no emotional relationship gets established between the groom and the bride-the marriage becomes a body without soul. Many parents, lured by a ‘bright’ N.R.I groom simply devastate the life of their dear daughter in the clout of arranged marriage. And suppose that the prospective bride is a burden to her some relative. What might be in her fate in case her marriage is a complete failure? Well, read Sumeetha Manikandan’s novella ‘The perfect groom’ to discover what the destiny might have in store for her.
The novella is set with a perfect Indian background-where Nithya, our protagonist of the story is married to an N.R.I-a software professional from the U.S.A.,Ashok. Although she is a hotel management graduate by qualification she was not allowed to choose her independent career. Her only vice was that she had no father and she and her mother was a ‘burden’ to her uncle. Naturally, the uncle had some type of future imagined for the lady that loving parents would have never imagined in their wildest nightmare! When she was fourteen, her uncle first thought of a ‘happily married life’ type dream for her. In the words of the writer-“Vasu was an orphan. His parents died in an accident and my uncle became his guardian since there was nobody else to take him in. He was brought to live in my uncle’s house with his cousin. My uncle financed his studies until the twelfth standard and then suggested that he go to patashala to study for priesthood and get married to me. We both were made for each other, with Vasu becoming a priest and me a cook; we would be the ideal low class couple, according to my uncle.”
Then he thought of a very “glorified career option” for her-to assist some cater with cutting vegetables and sort of things! Naturally readers from other countries will shiver imagining a hotel management graduate can face such a proposal from their in laws, but friends from developed world please do not forget that the name of the country is India –where women are still considered a voiceless commodity! It is the sheer fighting spirit that rescued the drowning lady from those imminent dangers. But when that marriage proposal came neither she nor her mother was able to resist the temptation.
The storyline has contemporary social issues embedded into it. It speaks the story of a tormented next door girl in a trustworthy language that is sure to touch heart. Nithya actually had some faint suspicion that why such a suitable groom is aiming to marry a girl with such social status whereas in reality there should be queue of prospective brides from affluent families to marry him. “She was against the proposal from deep inside her mind, but had anybody have ever heard in India that a bride had declined such a lucrative proposal for the sake of her career……”
Well, the quoted line is not my view, but it would be surely the view of Nithya’s uncle!
So everything was arranged and Nithya migrated to a completely alien world. As a newly married wife, her natural expectation would be that her dear husband will guide her-emotionally and mentally support her to cope up with the alien culture. But in reality what she got? She got a home alright to live on, but it is the joint effort of the husband and wife that makes a home a happy home, a family. Did she get that?
She was like a caged bird, where her only bit of the open sky was working in a nearby restaurant. From the very beginning she was susceptible that there is something wrong with the apathetical attitude of Ashok, but she was not aware about the depth of it! A quote from the book is enough to show that their relation was in reality build up of sand-“ “Call me if you need anything,” he said.
Which actually meant ‘Do Not Call Me’. I had learnt that a long time ago. He got into his car and zoomed off without a backward look. I had the house and the weekend all to myself. I felt like whooping joyfully.”
I know that my readers are inquisitive to know what will happen ultimately. Would she meekly surrender to the destiny and loose the battle like thousands of ill fated Indian girl or she ultimately overcomes the situation.
And there is more. There is ultimate revelation of the fact that why Ashok is reluctant to the relation.
The way the writer tells her story is absorbing. And no, this is not a feminist saga! This is simply the story of a girl who wants to live a life of her own!




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