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

 

 

Heartbreak!

Our house still reeks of love. I think it always will. All the unsaid words and feelings, I can feel them floating around. You love me, you say. I believe you. Only that your love is biased towards your own self. 

 

I toy with the idea of moving away. I know it will be difficult, but necessary for my self-respect. I wouldn’t be able to survive in this house anymore. My place of refuge, my place of solace, has turned into a prison.

I wonder if I would ever meet another man and fall in love. Again. It seems impossible. No man would be like you. And for me, love is you. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I couldn’t. 

Our house reeks of love. I think it always will.

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?

 

U unties Umbilical!

A child in a mother’s womb gets it’s nutrition from the umbilical cord. When the child is born, the umbilical cord is cut. And from that moment onward, the child, only moments old in this new world, has to do a lot of hard work. (S)he has to learn to suck milk out of the mother to survive. Breathe on their own. Pee. Potty. Seemingly innocuous things for us, but huge tasks for these little beings.

But some people, even as they grow up, can’t seem to let go of their umbilical cords. It’s like their umbilical cords have never been cut. Running to mommy or daddy for every little thing is the way of life for them. I wonder, if infants, as young as days old have to start taking ownership of their life, how come some grown ups refuse to do so?

I have also seen mothers having a very hypocritical attitude towards this phenomenon. The daughter with undying loyalty is fine, but the son-in-law with the same attitude is looked down upon. Similarly, the mother-in-law is absolutely fine controlling the life of her son and daughter-in-law, but if the daughter-in-law seeks her parents’ permission, she isn’t a part of the family.

Also, I find, there is a lot of gender bias when it comes to being tied to the apron strings. Guys with their invisible  umbilical cords are often referred to as “Mamma’s boys”, but girls doing the same are just “mumma’s pets” or “daddy’s darlings”. Girls with their umbilical cords are considered as very loyal and loving. However the same attitude from a guy is seen as a weakness.

I have seen many parents encourage this kind of childrens’ attitude because I guess they think it shows the child’s respect for them. I beg to differ. A child can be as or even more respectful to you despite the fact that he/she may not come running to you for every problem or asking or taking your advice. Or agreeing with you on every point made, In fact, I know of so many people who use this as a kind of excuse for not standing up for the right thing. I don’t think parental respect has any meaning if you continue to do wrong elsewhere. Have you cut your umbilical?

 

R & S – Rape & Stigma

Rape has pretty much become a word that is used in general conversations these days. All thanks to rising crime rates and the inability of the government or the police to curb it. And, of the course, the inability of the male population to control their wild untamed libido. The worst part is that most of the accused admit that the rape was not only an act of forced sex, but majorly a power play. They wanted to show the women where she belonged. As much as the society is progressing in terms of men women equality, people like these are pulling it back in the opposite direction as much.

There is another aspect of the rape phenomenon that is happening these days – the blame-the-victim game! I think it started with some moron saying that girls out on the streets past a certain time of the night were inviting troubles. And then the mockery never stopped. Someone said, it was the jeans and revealing clothes that were the cause of men raping the said women. Then someone said Mobile phones were responsible. Another one said chowmein was. A political honcho said boys tend to make mistakes. And that they should not be hanged for them. Another one said, the girls are an equal participant in the act, and hence they must be punished too. Well, to say the least, I feel disgusted. I don’t want to comment on the above remarks and give them any more attention than they have already been given.

As if raping a woman wasn’t enough to snatch away her basic right to say no, to be the way she wants to be, the society attaches all the stigma to the victim. And the accused have an easy run getting a bail, and leading a normal life.  Why does a woman who was raped and brutalized has to spend the rest of her life fighting the stigma and being called a rape victim? And the accused always gets called by his name. It is high time that the women be accorded the basic respect they deserve. The least we can do is, not to rob them off their identity for the rest of their lives and accord them a generic and very demeaning “rape victim” tag. And apart from improving the men’s mentality about women and punishing them, it is the guilty who must be referred to as a rape accused for the rest of their lives, if they are not hanged, so that they are the ones who are looked own upon, and are not allowed to lead a guilt free life after destroying someone else’s