Friday, February 29, 2008

The TamBrahm Bride

The title intrigued me as well as the theme which is about a typical arranged marriage among TamBrahms, so I hunted this book down at Landmark and read it last week. Overall, it is a good description of the arranged marriage process - the 'viewing of the girl', the ritual of making her serve tea or coffee, and the stupid questions asked, e.g. can she sing? Who cares - and how's it going to affect her marriage if she's tone deaf? The equation between the Boy's side who are to be venerated, and the girl's side, who are always meant to be eager to please. The horoscope-matching business - as if some random matching of two horoscopes can guarantee peace and felicity in a marital home. The focus on the looks and complexion of the girl, while the boy is only to be evaluated on his education and job...It was a great capture of all of these.

However, I did feel that characterisation suffered at the hands of the incidents needed to make the plot move on. One didn't really end up getting a good understanding into the heroine or her family and certainly there was no character development. I find myself wondering whether that would be the case in real life as well, i.e. with someone who's not only agreed but happy to go through the arranged process, would the person really change while going through it? I'm not really sure of the answer, especially because anyone I've met who's had an arranged marriage has pretty much only met 1 or 2 people before deciding on it, whereas the heroine here meets some vast number of eligibles. Plus the epilogue was really not required - it was quite pointless.

More interesting than this was Mahashweta, a book by Sudha Murty ( yes, the Narayana Murty one). it's about the problem of Leucoderma and how it can impact people's lives, how little knowledge or understanding anyone has of the issues. The heroine has a love marriage with someone from a much richer family and is tolerated by her MIL but later, when she develops Leucoderma, she is shunned by everyone including her parents and her husband. She eventually goes on to settle in a cosmopolitan city and comes to accept what has happened as for the best. I had no idea that this medical ailment was considered such a big deal and that people with it were treated so badly, so it was a real eye-opener.

The book is also very evocative of the nuances of daily life in a small town and the big city, and using simple language, charts the graph of the heroine's life. It was a great read, but my only complaint is that at the end, when the heroine meets someone who wants to marry her regardless of her problem, she says she has given up on that side of life. I would have been fine if the protagonist had said she wasn't in love with the guy but to have given up on a normal married life because of her past seemed defeatist to me.


Kowsalya Subramanian said...

thanks for stopping by my blog. the tag you have for this post is "kowsalya subramaniam" but the author's name is "Kausalya Saptharishi"

Kausalya Saptharishi said...

Thanks for the balanced review. Your question is an interesting one that will evoke a variety of responses I suppose!
It's wonderful to come across a blogger who is so passionate about books.

Side note: Thanks, Kowsalya Subramanian, for the clarification.

bird's eye view said...

Thanks, Kowsalya - and sorry about the goof-up on the author's name. Will correct at once.

Kausalya - you're welcome, and my apologies about the goof-up.

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