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Of duty and desire

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Sheetal Prasad is a lady who apparently has it all- beauty, brains, money and education. But when this modern Indian woman surrenders love for honour and marries into one of India’s wealthy families, life takes a different turn. Women Talk Online blogger Debarati Mukherjee reviews the book, “Duty and desire,” by author Anju Gattani.

In this story, the author has vividly portrayed the struggle of a modern woman, deeply ingrained with traditional values that have been in existence for hundreds of years. In addition, she is filled with remorse and behaves in less than logical ways. At one point she is happy with the man her parents have chosen for her. On the other hand, she feels angry because it has been done against her will and she has to follow an age-old tradition.

The story is rich with imagery and information, but it is very abrupt at times. At certain points it becomes difficult for the western reader to actually get a thorough understanding of what is happening, because the author has used colloquial words and phrases. The author has provided a well-researched glossary of terms that are frequently used in the book. So, even if you are well-versed with India, it might not be a bad idea to take a quick look at it.

The characters of Sheetal and Sanjeet have been developed with great care. They both react to conflicting patriarchal situations. Patriarchy has a strong command over Sheetal and many times she feels desolate and wearied because of it. Although it suits the story and the character, I believe Sheetal could be a little more vocal about her feelings. There is a continuous tug-of-war against the modern and the entrenched traditional mores and this struggle forms the core component of the story.

Sanjeet, on the other hand is a spoiled brat with a rich father. He bullies, batters and criticizes people so they become docile and compliant to his needs. All the time he longs for a “western style” woman who flouts the conservative norms of their society. However, he is a failure in expressing his concern for his loved ones in words. He can only do so in his flashy manner. His constant mood swings widens the emotional gap between him and Sheetal, who believes that they are poles apart!

Although the story keeps jumping frequently, the best part is that it gives you a feeling of a real-life incident. Being a modern woman with some conventional beliefs, I can very well understand the pain and the trauma that Sheetal has to bear every time she adjusts with her new family. The book intensely describes the pain of a woman from an Indian family who is modern in her thoughts but bound in the chains of customs and tradition.

Here are some details about the book:

Author: Anju Gattani

Publisher: Greenbrier

Genre: Family Saga

Rating: 4/5


Author: Debarati Mukherjee

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan


05.06.2013 | 12:30