Friday, November 18, 2016

A world above, a world beneath!

Shout out to all those who read this first on Women's Web

We are the smart couples, the ones who inhabit the skyscrapers one’d have been amazed looking at back in 90’s. These imposing edifices reflect not just prosperity on the owner’s part for they are no cheap, but also a sense of equality – living amongst the equals.
NCRs, or national crowded region, would consist of hundreds of ‘mini’ societies, which would boast of giving you a life you would have only dreamt of. True, back in 90’s, society only meant one, huge area, Punjabi Bagh West, for instance, where everyone would know who lives next door and, also, what happens in their lives. For now, several modern ‘mini’ societies have mushroomed around us and have changed the lives we have ever been living.
Coming to this second just passed, and this one I am trying to hold on to, I am looking outside of my balcony on the second floor in one of the poshest societies of Indirapuram. It’s been close to 10 months since we have shifted to this house and made it our own. This house and the society gives you a life which takes time to sink in, to get into your lifestyle and makes you alter your living habits as per its rules.
True, this is a society, which boasted of luxurious living on its marketing paraphernalia, and true that it takes care of all the tags you might want to console yourself with for having spent lakhs buying a small space in it – sprawling gardens, huge community hall, basketball, tennis, badminton courts, swimming pool, gym, kids’ play area, senior citizens’ club and everything else. But in the 10 months passed, I have only seen Mondays turn into Fridays catching up with work and the rest two days catching up with home.
The web we have intertwined ourselves in doesn’t really let anyone to sneak out and seek life. Husbands work, wives work, kids either confine themselves to schools or crèches and the rest, the stay-at-home lot – the retired or the housewives or a few like me working from home stay back and let the ‘society’ life make you solitary despite sensing the worlds living beneath, adjacent and above you.
There’s a home beneath me, a home above me; there’s a young couple living beneath and an elderly couple living above of me. The only connection I have with them is through our balconies – no I don’t see them there, I either drop clothes below or receive some from above. Balconies were only meant to dry out clothes – weren’t they? Soaking in the sun, savoring oranges, guavas or peanuts while basking in the sunlight are all passé, right?
While buying groceries one day, I ended up bumping into the girl who lived on the first floor, right below my house. I was amazed to know how she, too, dreamed of a friend in this vast society. It was impossible to have a life sans one’s work and home in this setup. But, what really stopped us? Well. Nothing.
Why don’t we step out and talk to each other? Why have we stopped passing smiles and exchanging pleasantries? Why do we no longer get together to celebrate mini victories or major losses? Why have we turned into the new-age zombies, who go to work, obey every duty and sleep in their pigeonholes? Why don’t we learn skills from each other or rather just talk and learn? Why don’t we make a first move for a friendship or a relation? Why is this ‘equality’ not helping in breeding friendships? Well, they didn’t guarantee a great social life in their marketing campaigns, they only did a great society. Pretty well, they have delivered. 

This post has been chosen as Spicy Saturday Pick by BlogAdda!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Book Review # 16: Mahashweta

My rating: ●●●●
Sudha Murty
India: Penguin Books India, 2007
154 pp. 250
ISBN: 9780143103295

Summary: Anupama has everything a man would ever yearn to get in a girl - looks, education, morals, conducts and intellect - yet she faces the worst in life due to her malady - vitiligo. Mahashweta is a beautiful portrayal of a woman's faith in herself and her work, her fate and the power she vests in her beliefs and how she uses that faith to get herself free of all the shackles holding her back. 

What really clicked? The author – the lady that she is and the substance that makes her so!

My take: A deep connection between ancient literature, values and a strong story is all that makes Mahashweta. Further, there are so many fine elements, which make you love the book a little more; for instance, the cover and the story behind it revealed in the postscript, the end, which is the least expected one, the title and the portrayal of Anupama, the protagonist and incomparable.

Anupama was the eldest daughter of a poor schoolteacher, Shamanna, and was, in a way, destined to struggle her whole life. When Anand, a rich doctor, and Anupama meet during one of her plays, love infatuates both of them, with Anand taking the first step of sending the proposal to her family. Anand’s mother, though utterly cunning, decides to go along with the flow in order to appease his son.

Shortly after their marriage, Anand flies to England to pursue his studies leaving Anupama behind to join him there after Diwali. Anand, however, reiterates the vow to reassure Anupama of his fidelity – till death do us apart!

Anupama, trying to put up with his mother-in-law, Radhakka, and sister-in-law, Girija, discovers their weird activities. Upon discovering Girija's promiscuous character, she tries to bring her on the right path but without the absence of an evidence, ends up ridiculing herself in the family.

With both the ladies turning hostile to her, Anupama, now, starts waiting for Diwali to be over so that she could join Anand, when a burning coal falls on her foot, giving way to a white patch. She starts consulting a famous dermatologist who confirms this is leukoderma. Anupama, who was always known for her impeccable beauty, was truly turning into a character she loved playing on stage, Mahashweta!

Radhakka, when comes to know about this, calls Shamanna and send her back home. Anupama tries to get in touch with Anand through innumerable letters explaining him the problem and the fact that it wasn’t there before marriage. She thought being a doctor, he would understand it the best.

Sabakka, the second wife of Shamanna, not only gets concerned by a daughter she hates the most coming back home but also about her own daughters who were of marriageable age. Meanwhile, the white patches on Anupama’s body keep spreading.

The increased financial pressure at home, her father’s attitude changing towards her, the hostility from her stepmother, her stepsisters’ marriage breaking because of her, Anand’s no response to her letter all compel Anupama to commit suicide when she makes her mind that she won’t as that would only aggravate her family’s problems.

She decides to join her friend, Sumi, in Mumbai and her life truly takes a U-turn from here, for she starts earning and standing for her own good. Switching jobs, she joins the work which she actually loved doing – dramatics. She not only becomes financially independent but also gains all her lost confidence back. Mumbai was after all a city which overlooked her white patches for her work.

She meets Dr. Vasanth when she gets admitted to hospital one day. Dr. Vasanth starts admiring her and ends up proposing her for marriage. Anand, too, returns to her later in the story, repenting his mistake and wanting to restart their married life but Anupama has her say – she chooses no one but herself! The kind of lady she had become – independent, self-sufficient, confident and far superior in morals, intellects and conduct – she truly believed in herself and the fact that she needs nobody’ support to live a life she ever dreamt of.

The end of the story takes time to sink in and leaves you with an aftertaste of victory. Although I wouldn’t have done the same had I been in Anupama’s shoes, but her move, obviously, seemed more profound and liberating. She had given her soul to the person she got married to, just life Mahashweta, but in real life, she had turned the opposite. 

Final word: Sudha Murty - She must be my foster mom, for she teaches me so much, so easily, that I never want to lose her. The major takeaway from this read was no matter how hard you hit the rock bottom in life, you still can look up and hope for a miracle. Anupama, despite suffering from vitiligo, doesn't let it become the end of her life. She fights all the odds and not only becomes self-sufficient but also determines herself to be on her own. The transformation shown through the emotional roller coaster she goes through is superlatively inspirational. The author fills the reader with so much self-esteem and confidence that no crisis in life seems bigger than a mole. Thank you, Sudha Murty!
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