When the Lotus Blooms by Kanchana Krishnan Iyer

My aunt recommended this book. Given that we have so many books that we like in common, I was waiting to get hold of it.

LotusBlooms
Two Tamilian Brahmin families, in two different parts of India, in 1930s British Colonial India, bound by a common destiny.

Rajam and Dharmu were both child brides, unaware of the life awaiting them. Rajam’s husband, Partha, fell in love with her at first sight, and engineered their marriage. For all the love that he bestowed on her, she had to bear the brunt of a mother-in-law from hell. Nothing she did could please her mother-in-law, and her childless state was the worst testimony of her failure as a daughter-in-law and wife, in her mother-in-law’s eyes, even if her husband was not bothered by it. The harder she tried, the more difficult her life became.

Dharmu, brought up in a village in Tamilnadu, is suddenly transported into a totally different world after she gets married. Her husband, Mahadevan, a sophisticated, London returned civil servant, lived a very different, Western life in East Bengal. In the middle of the political unrest and uncertainty, Dharmu tries hard to fit in. Sadly, no matter what she did, she could feel herself lacking. Right from her manners, her English, to the food that her husband insisted on. Everything was alien, and nothing seemed to elevate her loneliness and unhappiness. Things which were strictly forbidden growing up, now becomes things that she has to do, in order to fit into the society that her husband moves in. Her only joy in life was her little son, born after two daughters. Her casual neglect of her daughter, never even occurred to her, because, after all, they were just daughters, meant to be brought up and sent away to their marital home.

Unknown to both these families, the blooming lotus, would have a significance to both these families.

I really enjoyed the style of the author. She transports you to that era, effortlessly. Sights, smells, experiences, everything. You could be Rajam or Dharmu’s neighbour, witnessing them, going about with their lives. Their day to day lives, along with those around them. The story is woven with the traditions, practices and rules that bound the men and women of that time. Things that they accepted as part of life. The characters are really well-fleshed out. You feel Rajam’s frustration, and her determination to do her best, Dharmu’s loneliness and empathize with their situation. Even smaller characters like Dharmu’s maid, or the village untouchables are so well integrated into the story, that the book is a wonderful read, a sliver of life in a different time.

There is a fair sprinkling of Tamil words through the book, which just brings out the flavour of the book. I think it is books like these that capture an older time(good or bad), for when most of us would have forgotten it. And that, I think is what I really loved about the book.

If you like fiction of this sort, an olden era brought to life, you are sure to like this one. I would definitely recommend this book.

Ram Sene would not be happy.

Our years of not celebrating Valentine’s day( we are a couple of boring people – we don’t do any ‘days’ ;)), comes to a crashing halt.

Our resident imp has decided that we need to celebrate it. So she made cards for us yesterday, and we are supposed to have cards ready for her by the time she comes back from school. And not just that, I also have to bake a ‘Valentine’s Day cake’ and decorate it in pink.

If this isn’t torture, what is 🙂  You think I should call the ‘tradition saviours’ of our society to protect me from all this 😉

So what are you guys up to? Any special plans? Do you have imps at your place threatening you into celebrating it too?

Crushed Dreams

As a little child, all she wanted was to go to school with her older brother, but she was sent to another school. Later she realised that it was the cheaper one.

As a ten yr old, she was told to come straight home from school and help out her mother.. while her brother got to play with his friends.

As a teenager, she was told to dream within ‘limits’. To just hope that she gets married quickly and does not remain a burden on her parents.

As a college going student, all she remembers is lots of people coming to ‘see’ her…

As a bride, all she remembers is her parents telling her to not let them down, to be a good bahu and not cause her in-laws any reason to complain..

As a wife, all she remembers is the violence, both mental and physical and not being able to even tell anybody.. she had no friends of her own, she had no money of her own.. her parents did not want trouble, her siblings did not want her to rock the boat… Did she have any choice but to go back to her marital home and live her life .. crushed dreams and all.. just the way she had been trained to do so from the time she was born..

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I keep wondering, what it is that makes it so difficult for women trapped in unhappy relationships. with or without domestic violence, to step out.

What makes them victims?

Why do they find it so difficult to walk out, even when they are educated and financially independent?

All I can blame is their upbringing.. the fact that they have never been allowed to speak up, that they have been drilled not to expect too much, that they have been told that once married off, that they cease to be their parent’s responsibility.. They have been told that their duty lies in their marital homes.. and that if they violate any of these ‘rules’, they can certainly not expect any support from any quarter.. This is her ‘fate’!

Even educated, independent women, find it difficult to stand up for themselves, for the fear that they will lose all ‘respect’ and support from society, forgetting the fact that they never had it in the first place..

It breaks my heart when I hear of accounts of women trapped in marriages like this..Read more at IHM’s and Gunmeen’s.  All I know, that I can do, is make sure that my daughter knows that she is never helpless, and she has to stand up against injustice and that we will always be there for her. She is never alone! If every parent did this – don’t you think it would make a difference, eventually.