The Wife – Book Review

After finishing “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Morarty, I was really looking forward to a book that would hold on to its own. You know how sometimes you read a book so amazing, that anything you read after that does not match up. I wanted to pick up something that wouldn’t disappoint me. And so, I went to the library searching for my next one. Since March is being celebrated as Women’s month at the library, they are showcasing some of the better women writers and their books. And that’s how I chanced upon the book, “The Wife” by Meg Wolitzer. Also, let me confess, I didn’t find the blurb as exciting, and solely picked up the book because I loved the cover. It’s a simple cover, and yet I was drawn to it. And for once, I have to say, I am glad I judged the book by its cover. 

“The moment I decided to leave him, the moment I thought, enough, we were thirty-five thousand feet above the ocean, hurtling forward but giving the illusion of stillness and tranquility. Just like our marriage.” And that’s how the book starts in the words of Joan Castleman who is on her way with her husband Joseph Castleman to receive the Helsinki Literature Award., one of the highest literary awards The book then transports you back to 1950s when Joan was a student in one of Joe’s class.

 

Joan takes you on her journey and her marriage of 40 years, back and forth in the book. The secret that she reveals at the end of the book is not really a secret because she drops enough hints through the narrative, and yet I found it difficult to come to terms with it. There were times when I could not connect to Joan or her character until she delves deeper in the crevice that existed between male and female writers back in the 50s and 60s, and how the feminism movement had not yet started.  I loved her take on marriage and how she subtly defines some of the characteristics of husbands, without sounding like a cliché. Her writing is sharp and satirical. It’s also funny, but in a very empathy arousing kind of way. There were times when I thought she was weak, and sometimes she would just turn that opinion on its head. The characters are complex and very well written.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. And even though the book is set in a time different from today, yet you could find it touching a chord with something in your marriage. Like this one passage from the book that reads,” Everyone knows how women soldier on, how women dream up blueprints, recipes, ideas for a better world, and then sometimes lose them on the way to the crib in the middle of the night, on the way to Stop and Shop, or the bath. They lose them on the way to greasing the path on which their husband and children will ride serenely through life”.

My rating: 4 stars

 

 

The little girl


Bastard and illegitimate were just some of the words that her new born had often been labelled with. The baby was born to her and her live-in partner. They had decided to keep the baby when they found out, at 12 weeks. As expected, their parents had not agreed to the match or them having a baby together without getting married. 

The little baby girl is 5 years old now. She is young and vivacious, and her innocence personified features make her look angelic. Her maternal grandma has come down to meet her, finally. One look at her and she can’t help but exclaim, “Oh dear! You are so beautiful!” while the proud father looks on.

The little girl’s mother sighs in a corner, “Ma, that’s because she was made when we made love. Not when we had sex”. She then starts humming her favorite song to drown the voices in her head which screamed “desperate, lust, stigma, sex, illicit, bastard, illegitimate”.

Separation anxiety of a different kind !

The husband has been away for a while now. It will take him another couple of months to be back. The little one is keeping me very busy and on some days, I do not even remember that he is not there. Some days we do manage to squeeze in to talk for a few minutes. On most days, thanks to the time difference, we just about manage to acknowledge that we are doing fine by messages that are replied to, hours later.

There was a time when I could not bear to be away from him, even for a couple of days. I would call him all the time or chat and invariably miss him when I got home. I also wrote about how strong I was while he was leaving the country here. Any other time would have had me crying and bawling and being depressed for entire days after he was gone. The other day I was just wondering about this. All sorts of thoughts crossed my mind. Had I changed after becoming a mother? Did my love for the child overpower my love for him?
Or was I just over imagining things because I was so busy at all the other times?

I got my answer when I was watching “Two States”. It’s one of two movies I have watched in the past 7 months (all thanks to the entry of the little one in our lives). I am known to be a book lover and I, almost, never (except a few times) like a movie adapted from a book. And this was a book I did not even rate too high. It was OK, average. But I liked the movie. I loved the way Alia’s character was portrayed. I loved all the cliched drama of the loud Punjabi family and not-so-convincing South Indian accents. I loved the songs. And I liked Arjun Kapoor the best. His face had such a lost puppy look to it that you would immediately want to run and hug him. He didn’t seem like a quintessential “hero”, but a very normal guy who has his  ambitions and apprehensions mixed up.

Another reason I also loved this movie could have been because H and I also faced a lot of opposition when we decided to get married. Somehow, I was transported back to those years when we were the boy and girl in love. When we just had to get married to each other or no one else. When there were lots of tears, emotions and melodrama. And suddenly, all those emotions which I thought I had lost came back to me. I had a lump in my throat. I wanted to cry, I wanted to meet him and say the I love you. I wanted to be with him right then.

And then the movie ended. The ear phones came off. And the little one woke up.

But there is this song “Chaandaniya” (from the movie) that I have been playing in a loop ever since. It’s my favorite song these days.

Disclaimer: If you are missing a loved one, hear the song at your own risk. It will make you all sad and mushy.

 

 

Another milestone! Or is it?

It’s our second Wedding anniversary. What’s wrong with time? Forget the “Time flies” adage, I think time is travelling in one of those Japanese bullet trains. Before you know it, you hear a “Whooshh” and that’s another milestone passing by. It feels like, before I know it, I’ll be a dadi/nani, recounting stories of of romance, love and commitment hamare zamaane ke, you know.

But, on a serious note, it’s been a fabulous journey so far. I have been so happy at times, that I wanted to pinch myself to believe if it was true! And then there were times, when we have fought like there was no tomorrow. But we always make up. Not because we have to, but because we really want to. After a full fledged screaming match and calling each other names, we do get the feeling that the issue wasn’t really worth a fight. But then, a good scream and fight here and there, doesn’t hurt anyone right? In fact I feel, doing that sometimes is almost therapeutic. But yeah, you gotta underline that “sometimes”, ok? And whoever says and believes that “I love you for what you are” is completely bullshit and you should know that. Spouses keep trying (mostly unsuccessfully and therapeutically ;-)) to change each other and do succeed a little. Only to be faced with a “tum badal gaye ho” a little later. Married life is full of such and many other clichés. And yet, each journey is so different from the other.

H and I started ours on this day, two years ago. By far, it has been the most important, the most special and the most romantic day of my life. I had waited for it, yearned for it and was lucky enough, to get to live it.
Just like time, our equation too is changing everyday. At 2 years, I have learnt to cook, as much as a survival meal for two. Now that’s an achievement if you know my disapproval for cooking. And H has learnt that to get me to cook, he has to say this in the most pleasing way, “Don’t worry babes, we’ll order from outside”. Likewise, H hates to oil my hair (an activity which I emphasize must be carried out religiously 4 times a week). And so, I have learnt that I can almost (ALWAYS!) get it done if I top with a hot chocolate. So, there.

We both have our quirks. We love some of it. We try and change the rest. But as long as I can fit my head snugly in the nook of his arm at the end of a long day, I am not worried. I know we are moving in the right direction. Growing up. Having fun. Fighting it out. Most importantly, together.
Babes, I know you will agree to whatever I said above. If you don’t, well, we can always talk it out over a cup of hot chocolate, can’t we?

Hail the Bond couple! 😉

Love and marriage!

Quote: “Match for 6”-31 yrs(luks 29), H’som PB Kh Boy,xtrmly well stld in M.Navy. Lkng 4 B’Ful Shrt Educated, frm High Status,Cltd Fly. Pls cntct with fl lnght foto only.” Unquote.

Greek? No, that, in fact, is English. This is a recent ad published in a matrimonial column. Decoded it says that a six foot tall, 31 year old Punjabi (Khatri) man, who is extremely well settled in the Merchant Navy is looking for a beautiful, short, educated girl, who belongs to a cultured family with a high status. Interested candidates are to contact him with a full length photo only.

Note how he is looking for a “short” girl.

Love and marriage – how well do they go together? Do they at all? Do you think someone like this man, who is looking for a short girl to marry has love on his mind as furthermost in a marriage? Doubtful.

Consider this song….Love and marriage by Frank Sinatra. He sings about how love and marriage – they go together like a horse and carriage. And according to him, you can’t have one without the other. Sinatra is outdated, as are his views –in present day society. We are all about “instant make-out, instant break ups” as quoted by Anushka Sharma’s character in Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

I am the brunt of many a caustic remark when I sit down on a Sunday to peruse the matrimonials. No I am not looking for an H’some Boy who is “extremely well settled” with a large income. I read them because of the sheer incredulity that overwhelms me when I come across ads that I have quoted above. I have even come across ads that ask for women who are educated up to the 12th standard only. They do get specific don’t they?

Relationships are a farce now. Everyone wants tailor made people for a specific purpose. No one is willing to compromise and adjust to another person. Thus the instant breakups happening all over town.

People are evidently getting married for the wrong reasons – if they insist they want a person who is less educated than them then something is horrifyingly wrong about the mindset of today’s youth.

I do believe that the days of yore had more integrity, yet I am equally sure that the seeds of the present situation of society were sowed then. Was there more love? Maybe. Those were the days of arranged marriages that worked out because they were arranged for one specific purpose. A girl/guy was needed in order to produce an heir, obviously male, to carry on the family name/tradition.

After this necessary duty had been fulfilled, the couples carried on with their lives, with a feeling of affection for each other. They might have even fallen in love sometimes. At least they were honest about the reasons behind marriage. Love might have been secondary, but when it did bless the couple, it stayed.

But now all that has changed. The horse has struggled out of its shackles and taken off for the horizon, leaving the carriage to teeter into a ditch. Relationships have become as disposable as contact lenses. They even have the same shelf life – for most people, yes, not all. Now it seems that marriage has been reduced to corny sms lingo ads in papers, and bimonthly relationships based on desires.

But we don’t want that to happen. Unfortunately, no one seems to be listening. All you hear these days are feminist rants about how men are not required and men wishing for multiple partners. Again, the disclaimer – mostly.

Have you heard the songs that abound these days? “Main zandu balm hui, darling tere liye?” “Wanna be my chammak challo?” Excuse me? This, ladies and gentlemen, is the yardstick for romance then. You go up to a girl and ask her to be your village belle. Or ladies, proclaim yourself as pain relief ointment. Songs these days make absolutely no sense, and very few romantic songs are actually full of romantic sentiment. We have to listen to most songs carefully and thrice over, to try and make head or tail of what they mean. So notions of romance are evidently very different – and indicative of prevalent mindset.

Very few people listen to Elvis anymore.

But to return to the quoted ad and what it represents. Can u even read it at first go? People don’t even bother to write entire sentences to spell out what they are looking for in a girl. Even people who are dating send expressions of love via texts – “I lv u.” Or simply, “M.U.” What is “M.U”? Miss you, of course. I miss you but I cannot be bothered to type out eight letters.

So my advice is – society has changed. Make sure you have the right guy in hand before you get married. And don’t marry until you are sure you absolutely want to. In fact don’t get into a serious relationship until you are, well, serious, about the person. Find yourself a man who sends you full sentences when he is texting his feelings. For if the guy can’t take responsibility of a sentence, how will he take the responsibility of a wife?

Guest article from www.glad2bawoman.com. Glad2bawoman is an online media company for women with a growing community of more than 70,000 members. All about women and for women, it encompasses a variety of topics including empowerment, relationships and health.