Book Review – A Good Indian Wife

 
When I first read the title of the book, I thought “A good Indian wife” was used in a satirical tone. And this thought was further strengthened when the protagonist Leila continually “pushed the envelope” by trying to express herself,and sometimes not do what is expected of her.

I liked the way the author describes Leila’s first few days in the country as “cold”. I found it to be both literal and metaphorical, as I also experienced it when I first moved to this country. Add to the fact that she had a new marriage and an arranged one at that.

Neel’s (the husband) character was very believable because of a few reasons namely, a) Inferiority complex of brown skin b) Believing that everything American was better and c) at the capability of Leila to adapt to his American life very quickly and on her own. He associated an “arranged marriage” girl to being timid and one unable to be at the helm of her own life. That in a way, is also the start of a relationship between them and if I may add, a new found respect for Leila’s confidence in herself, her brown skin and her “Indian-ness”. At one point Leila disagrees with something that Neel says and he finds that even though he is impressed by her ability to hold on to her own, he is also surprised at his own chauvinistic self.

While I could not identify with Leila at some places when she continues to be quiet about Neel’s affair, I could also totally believe her actions as she was torn between her desire to act her way or the way that was expected of her by the society. Most of the women born in the 80s and 90s can identify with her dilemmas as we are the generation caught between having seen patriarchy up close but also seen feminism being talked about in our drawing rooms.

I really liked the book for it’s easy read, and yet a good substance.My rating: 4/5
 

 

V values Valentine!

I know many people, including myself, who are not a big fan of “days” like the Valentine’s, Mother’s, Father’s etc.
Why choose a single day to express love when you can do it any time and any day of the year? And better still, all the time and all the days of the year. I was pretty cynical too. But this year, I got a reason why such days are celebrated.

This was our first Valentine’s day after the birth of our daughter. But as first time parents, we were dealing with our own struggles – some personal family issues, a demanding 2 month old and a recovering mother i.e. yours truly. All these didn’t really give us any space or time to even think about celebrating the V day. I had become way too cynical. It seemed to me that these days were celebrated by people who had the time and energy and do it. And not really the people with real problems at hand.

The husband got me a spa reservation at a five star and informed me only in the morning of V day so that I could not cancel as I was wont to do because of the work pressure. He not only helped me finish the chores, but drove me to the place, took care of the baby while I enjoyed my full body massage replete with a sauna. Needless to say, I fell short of words. I had not planned anything for him. And he gave me what I really needed. Some alone time, and some pampering.

And that day I realized that V days are not all useless. Even though he might not say the I love you everyday. Sometimes we might not even talk for days altogether. But days like this tell us that it’s not all that bad as it looks. He might still be angry at me for something that I don’t agree with, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me. That even though we can say the I love you everyday, but the truth is we don;t. So what better than the Valentines’ to say it and declare it?

 

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! 😉

O (Wo) Maniya !!

The other day H and I were discussing about how a man woman relationship evolves from lovers to spouses to parents. Now this kind of conversation is often triggered whenever we visit my home or his. You know, seeing our respective set of parents married for over 30 years now, and still bickering over the same issues as 30 years ago makes me see red. The last thing I have on my mind is to spend the next 25 years of my life bickering and fighting and tearing my/his hair out for stupid things.

 

A few days back we had a small fight about something inconsequential and I jokingly remarked that if we were to ever have a son, I would scold and even beat him (if required) so that he should never turn out to be like  H  (the wicked wife that I am!). So H got all worked up about this and said that whatever fights/issues we have each other should always remain between the both of us and that we should never involve the kids. Talk about future planning! :-D:-D

And so that got me thinking about how men are such a strange species and that it is nearly impossible for women to live with them peacefully (If any of the men reading this feel the same way about women, I agree with you completely :-P). Men like their wives to NEVER behave like their mothers. Even though they want us to be fussy about them and pay attention to them and massage the Man ego every now and then, they really hate it when we say something like, “Don’t do this. It’s bad for your health!” Because while you are expecting your lover’s eyes looking at you in an appeasing way for being so thoughtful about your health and all that, all you get is a set of rolling eyes. And if this were to repeat a couple of times in a week, you are sure to hear the quintessential words from the “horse’s mouth” (pun intended!) “Stop acting like my mom!” 

Now when did the tables turn, you would never know? The last time you remember you did this, he was sufficiently happy and even told you that you reminded him of his mom. Maybe you should go see a doctor for a suspected case of STML (Short Term Memory Loss). And so, I did the same and went about happily following the doctor’s advice – shout at him like a wife, but don’t (read NEVER) care like his mother. No more picking on him, after all he is a grown up man and can take care of himself. That is, until  H  happened to fall ill. I took care of him and cooked for him, gave his meds on time and blah blah. But he was acting cranky and impatient, to the extent of being PMS-ey. Now this was more than I could take. After all, I had married a man capable of living on his own and having his own family and so on and so forth and I didn’t really expect him to throw tantrums like a 5 year old. The wife in me was irritated. But the mother in me saw through his actions. His actions were not really to harass me or irk me, but he was really having a bad time coping up with the illness.

I was in a dilemma. Should I switch roles? I couldn’t be sure if the tables would turn yet again. So I decided to talk to H about it. I told him that I couldn’t take his nagging another minute and that he should behave like a grown up man. Which 27 year old have you heard of, who lies on the bed and stomps his foot because he was denied a chocolate after the medicine? He said what I had guessed, that he was cranky because of the meds and that he really hated the house-arrest part, the restless kid that he is. But then, I told him that he shouldn ’t expect me to have any sympathy, or that if he did, he shouldn’t crib about it later. He laughed his guts out. Did it sound funny to you? Atleast I had berated myself in my mind a thousand times for acting so cold. After all we girls have always been raised with notions of pati parmeshwar and other shit!:-

And with that laugh, I realized that we too had evolved and transitioned from lovers to spouses. Here I was wondering what role to take up, but we both think I am best when I am the wife because I can make him laugh. Or more importantly, I can still make him laugh AND I get to be myself (Read: can shout at him at my discretion). So ladies, while you make a note of the doctor’s advice above, the men can enjoy this quote by George Burns that I have so thoroughly begun to understand now:

“Do you know what it means to come home at night to a woman who gives you a little love, a little affection, a little tenderness? It means you are in the wrong house, that what it means.”

 



*All images courtesy Google