I picked up this book at the Delhi International Airport to give me company during the longggg flight back to Texas. My expectations from the book weren't very high. The subtile of the book read 'the story of a woman's search of strength and independence' and that's exactly what it was.
It is a story of Akhila, a forty-five years old single working woman, born and brought up in a conservative Tamil brahmin family. After her father's death, she takes his place as head of the family and supports her mother [financially] in bringing up one younger sister and two younger brothers. Having lost her youth to a lifetime of sacrifice, she one day decides to take control of her future and buys a one-way ticket to a town called Kanyakumari.
The story begins in the Ladies Coupé of the train, which Akhila boards and shares with 5 other women. First is Janaki, an old woman whose marriage has eventually turned into a sweet friendship with her husband over the years. Margaret, a chemistry teacher, who works in the same school as where her husband is the Principle. Margaret's story had the most interesting plot according to me, where she viciously rebukes her self-absorbed husband. Prabha, an ideal coy submissive wife, who is distant and lost throughout the marriage, until one day she learns to swim [rather float]. Sheela is a 14 years old girl who learns from her dying grandmother, lessons that will shape rest of her life. Lastly, Marikolanthu, who shares the experiences of her whole life which have many sad and shocking incidents [rape, social discrimination, and exploitation to name a few].
One question Akhila has been asking throughout her adult life is, "Can a single woman live alone? Or does she always need a man to protect, support and complete her?" She analysis her own life through the experiences of all these women. She realizes that she had let her whole life go by and never stood up for herself. The story is quite close to what one might find in any average Indian family. It doesn't explore anything that one is not already aware of, however, it's Nair's vivid writing that makes you connect with the women and understand their issues up-close!
The ending of the book is definitely controversial and would not go down well with many people [Indian, at least]. Many would believe that she lost her dignity through the actions she took eventually, but in my opinion Akhila had been too 'strong' and 'honorable' for too long and probably felt the need to do something truly rebellious. Also, I believe having heard the other 5 women talk about their short-comings so unapologetically she felt more human knowing that she had also done something that the society didn't approve of and felt liberated, finally!
What shocked me the most after reading this book and drawing my own conclusions, is that regardless of education and financial independence women are not liberated. Even the most modern and educated women do not have the liberty to make decisions about their life, clothes, travel, or worse about the job they choose to do. There is like an overhead cost of marriage which is unfortunately being paid, mostly, by women. Well, another book that makes me a little more thankful for everything I have.
Had a coffee date with a friend. It was a beautiful spring afternoon. I was feeling the colors :o) ... So like I had shared, in my last post, the secret of my mixin'-n-matchin', this is a perfect example of that. I woke up in the morning with the skirt on my mind but I couldn't think of a top to match. Then, just like that, I saw this 'lavender-ish' top stacked right in front of me. If you saw is up-close the the shade of lavender on my skirt is way lighter than the top but if you pair it together it matches perfectly. Besides, I do not like outfits which are a bit too 'matched'.
Top - Gap
Skirt - Roxy
Shoes - Nine West
Shades - Nicked-off my brother [Shhhh!]
Necklace - Gift from Mother-in-law [Same as worn here]