The Mango Season
Judging from the subject matter of more than a few South Asian novels published in the U.S. of late, writers have seemed to key in on one aspect of Indian life that alternately baffles, amazes and appalls: arranged marriage.
Malladi’s second book, The Mango Season is a bumpy ride through 27 year old Priya Rao’s visit home to India, where she had left 7 years previous to live in the U.S. Arriving in India with every (good) intention of telling her parents that she is in love and engaged with an American man proves difficult at best, nearly impossible at worst. To complicate matters thoroughly, Priya’s fiancé, Nick, is African-American. Tough news, that, considering Priya’s parents already have a suitable boy in mind. Malladi masterly portrays the psychological push and pull of tensions and conflicts. Thankfully, the author doesn’t let anyone off the hook in this novel. Malladi’s characters are well drawn and the clash of cultures portrayed are not only authentic, but heartbreaking, as well. Artistic imagination notwithstanding, Malladi may have borrowed from her own life in regards to the conflict of emotions Priya experiences in the novel. She explains her own experience this way: "My husband and I had been living together for 2 years before we were married and I told my parents the truth about where and with whom I was living. Needless to say, that was not well received. So when we did get married, they were relieved . . . I wasn’t living in sin anymore. Still, the fact that they didn’t keep asking us to get married all the time we were living together was decent of them and commendable, because this living together business is simply not done in India”
That had to be a stretch, but I didn’t want to get embroiled in this particular discussion. I stood mute next to my mother, patiently waiting for the ordeal to be over. My light pink salwar kameez was dirty and I was sweating as if I had never been through an Indian summer before. But I had been through twenty Indian summers and now seven years later I was having trouble acclimating to my homeland. It will be Priya’s first sense of discomfort in India but not the last time she will feel a stranger to both her country and its customs.
Kavita Daswani’s For Matrimonial Purposes: A Novel fulfills the American fascination with arranged marriage, and while loosely based on her own experiences, the writing of the book was almost entirely inspired by Daswani’s own quest for matrimony:
When the story begins, thirty-something Anju finds herself in Jhule Lal Temple at her cousin Nina’s wedding and what could be more uncomfortable for an over thirty never been married Indian woman than at a younger cousin’s wedding? Daswani, with a keen eye for humor, hilariously depicts the good-natured and well meaning friends and relatives who attempt to have her married posthaste ;
In contrast to Malladi’s Priya, Daswani’s Anju really doesn’t mind finding a husband the traditional way, much to the amazement and fascination of her professional American friends who are back in New York waiting for her to come to her senses and come back to work. Daswani has written a wholly pleasurable novel with all of the inherent ups and downs in the narrative, making the reader feel as she has as much invested in the quest as Anju. And, indeed, what comes through in both the writing and the stories themselves is the sense of which Priya and Anju become in the process: women who, despite much family participation in the marriage process, know what they want. But do they eventually get it?
You may also access this article through our web-site http://www.lokvani.com/
|Home | About Us | Contact Us | Copyrights Help|