Shelves: indian-author , short-stories , it-was-ok , immigrant-experience , marriage Arranged Marriage: Stories by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Sometimes it so happens that when you read too many books from the same author, you begin to easily feel too comfortable with the theme and you can end up even predicting the end and can easily sniff what is happening after having just read a few pages. I had the same feeling with this book. After having read atleast four books prior to reading Arranged Marriage, I was not quite impressed with the theme and emotions as there was nothing Arranged Marriage: Stories by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Sometimes it so happens that when you read too many books from the same author, you begin to easily feel too comfortable with the theme and you can end up even predicting the end and can easily sniff what is happening after having just read a few pages. After having read atleast four books prior to reading Arranged Marriage, I was not quite impressed with the theme and emotions as there was nothing new and fresh and it was the same glorified versions of tyrannical husbands holding captive of women, women trying hard to struggle after having left India as immigrants, women confined to the kitchen trying to bail out Indian curries reminiscing their hay days when they would have delicious Indian cuisine at their hometown Calcutta.
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She began to get visible wounds and would lie about the source. One day, the mother stealthily leaves in the middle of night to Gopalpur for her uncle, all the while telling the narrator that they were leaving for a vacation.
The grandpa-uncle, as the narrator calls him, is a custodian to the orchards of a zamindar wealthy land-owner. He shelters them and the narrator begins to like him immensely. One day, a horde of bats attack a mango grove. The uncle uses poison but the bats keep coming despite the dead bodies.
The uncle says that, something keeps them bringing back. Eventually, they stop coming. The narrator and the uncle go fishing in a huge pond to celebrate. They find a ring in the gut of a fish, with runes from a strange language. The uncle says it belongs to a wizard and has the power to fulfill every wish. The uncle gives the narrator the ring on the platform as they are leaving.
When they return, the father continues to abuse both of them. They have to flee multiple times, but the mother always insists on coming back. The narrator takes care to not lose the ring amidst these wanderings. One day, the ring gets left behind as they leave in haste. Clothes Sumita is being prepped by her friends for bride-viewing, a custom when the prospective groom and his family come to see and judge a girl as worthy of being a bride.
Her friends have been rejected multiple times because of their complexion. She is excited about the new heavily embellished and expensive saris in her bridal trousseau. After her marriage, she discovers her husband, Sumesh , is a patient and loving person contrary to her expectations.
He works at a store which is not doing well presently. One day, as he is working the graveyard shift, he is shot at the store in a robbery and dies.
She has to wear colorless clothes now to signify her widowhood. It is also evident that she has to go back to India with her in-laws and stay with them her entire life being the dutiful daughter-in-law, but she decides to stay in America and run the store as she dreamt. She is to stay with an aunt, Pratima , who has been much coveted for marrying an NRI businessman.
When she arrives she is disappointed by their shabby house and neighborhood. She is also wary of her uncle, Bikram , who seems to only hate the country and who she feels is trying to brainwash her ideas. She thinks her aunt is not happy in her marriage- her jewels are gone, she is always working in the kitchen, she is always on edge, looks worried.
The day after her arrival, Jayanti convinces her aunt to take a walk around the neighborhood. Jayanti is happy to explore the snowy streets till they get lost. They run into a gang of children who make racist marks and attack them with slush which gives her aunt some minor wounds. They find their street soon and the aunt becomes agitated when she is unable to find the keys to her apartment. The uncle arrives soon after and is angry with the aunt to leave the house and slaps her.
Jayanti wonders how to save her aunt from further assault when she finds the uncle crying bemoaning his lost fortune in the country and the aunt consoling him. Jayanti is confused on this newly discovered layer in an abusive marriage. She wonders if her fate would be the same. Eventually, the illusion she had about America fades.
The Word Love The unnamed narrator is living-in-sin with an American man while she is studying in college. Her mother is very strict and foreboding and she lives in constant terror of her. Her mother, a widow, is very particular on the conduct of a good girl. She had the narrator sit a whole day outside her house and seemingly threw her clothes-filled bags outside the house to teach her daughter a lesson when the daughter dared to go to movies.
The narrator receives weekly calls from her mother and is paranoid that her mother would call her randomly to check on her. Her boyfriend seems to be jealous of her dependence on her mother or unable to understand the fear she has of her mother. Slowly, she relaxes and has her partner receive her calls sometimes. One day, her mother calls and her boyfriend receives it. Her mother disowns her for bringing shame to the family.
The mother stops receiving her calls and letters and eventually gets the number changed. Her relatives desert her and her partner is unable to understand her anguish. She is depressed and suicidal. As a result, she gets pregnant from a promiscuous relationship and commits suicide. The peasant had to leave the village out of shame brought upon him by his daughter. The narrator decides to commit suicide but takes a walk first. During a walk, she has an epiphany and decides to leave both her mother and boyfriend to start a new life with no judgments.
A Perfect Life Meera has a perfect life, a great apartment, a good job and a loving boyfriend. She is frequently cajoled by her mother to marry.
She believes marriage to be an excuse to have kids and she is not interested in kids and is repulsed by them. One day, as she is leaving for a morning jog, she discovers a boy of sevem, seemingly Mexican, hiding under the staircase in her building. She takes the boy in and keeps him for several days. At first, she finds him difficult and even violent but he slowly begins to trust her and even follow her instructions. They begin to live like a mother and son. Finally, on the advices of her boyfriend Richard and friend Sharmila, she decides to adopt Krishna , as she had begun to call him.
While she awaits her foster parent certificate, she has to leave Krishna with another foster parent on the advice of her counselor. They have a tearful separation, and while Krishna turns violent, Richard has to almost drag Meera out of the place.
Krishna escapes from his new foster home never to be found again. Meera grows inconsolable and her relationship with Richard starts falling apart as she feels him to be inconsiderate. She keeps on searching for Krishna. It takes a year for Meera to get over the phase. She and Richard decide to marry but not to have any children. Her aunt and mother are disappointed and worried over this. The aunt begins her to tell her a story when the conversation moves to a saffron wedding sari.
A household had an educated wife to a very rich family, an old aunt and a little daughter. When the wife is pregnant with the second child, she calls for her sister to help with household chores.
Her sister is happy to be there. She decides to gift Sarala an old but beautiful and expensive sari of saffron color. Her mother, who had been pimping her, follows her to the mansion and asks her to be let off. Sarala pleads asylum from a life of prostitution, which leads the sister to turn the mother away who threatens to bring a mob to destroy the mansion. The sister is then shifted to a hospital. That night, the sister observes the husband trying to force himself on Sarala.
Sarala turns him out. The next day, a mob descends on the mansion and vandalizes the driveway and wounds the sister, which leads to the husband asking Sarala to go away. The wife comes and is unhappy to find Sarala gone. A year later, as the family is driving to a party incidentally through a neighborhood popular for prostitutes, the wife is rejoiced to find Sarala.
When the return, the wife has the servants burn the saffron sari that Sarala had left behind. He is surprised that she has not been found but not too upset.
He had wanted a girl who would be slightly educated so as not to be ashamed by her illiteracy , but not too much lest she be westernized. He is new to the idea of a woman to have her own mind, like his wife, which resulted in him marrying her.
They have a son soon after. He likes her qualities as quietness, which he thinks must be present in a dutiful wife but not so her wish for further education or western clothes. Soon, he calls her mother to come to America who is only happy to be there for his son. The household continues as if the wife was never present. The mother and son put away her pictures and clothes, perform a death ritual and plan for his second marriage.
One day, incidentally, the husband discovers some jewels to be missing. He burns her pictures out of spite and marries an uneducated girl who would appreciate his comforts. But, he keeps on wondering why she hated him so much that she decided to leave her son and the comfortable life. Doors Preeti , an NRI student, and Deepak , an immigrant, decide to marry out of love but their families are worried that Deepak would be orthodox and Preeti would be westernized respectively.
Preeti like to keep doors closed while Deepak likes them open. She becomes overworked, overwhelmed and her work is affected. She rebukes Raj one day when he barges on her. Subsequently, Deepak asks him to leave to avoid him anymore humiliation.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Life[ edit ] Divakaruni was born in Kolkata Calcutta , India. She received her B. She was a graduate teaching assistant at U. She has served on the board of Pratham Houston, a non-profit organisation working to bring literacy to disadvantaged Indian children, for many years and is presently on their emeritus board. Henry Prize Stories , and the Pushcart Prize anthology. Her fiction has been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Indonesian, Bengali, Turkish and Japanese.
Arranged Marriage (1995)
Arranged Marriage Summary