Divakaruni; Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni; Arranged Marriage; short story; short story collection
There was time when a sound of supermarket’s trolley wheels heard like moan of person trying to resist an illness. They scratched cement blocks passing through my apartment’s door on a windy autumn day in South Australia. They moved slowly as awaiting somebody to open the door and say hello. But it didn’t seem knocking my conscious to open the door. The weather is too cold for me. I peeked thru my window. It was my neighbor with her light winter coat pushing that trolley. The wheels supposed to be replaced with the new one or to be greased with oil. But seems it is not a big deal for her. Some people enjoyed unfix tools. They give a specific sound as well as holding bitter sweet memories.
She was more than 60 years old I think. I’ve never really known. Her story about her migration from east Europe to Australia is more interesting for me. Imagining big vessel carrying hundred people across the sea on early 50’s or 60’s is like having historical fiction novel to be real. She told me that her parents asked her to move to another country. They wanted to make sure that she was safe and continued her life prosperously. They don’t know what will be happened to their country at that time. Several years later, she realized that the decision to sail her to the new land is a precious decision. She had always been excitedly showing the route of her sailing from northern part to southern part of the world to us. My 2 years old girl who accompanying me laughing and jumping happily in front of a huge world map attached on her apartment’s wall.
Migration is not only transferring people. It is also pursuing life journey to find the identity. Using various characters in her story, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni showing to us how India’s women challenging their life. What they are thinking about their marriage, what they are actually expecting from their parent before deciding to be married, what kind of living they needed in their new place, and many more.
There are 11 short stories in this book. Among the others, The Word Love, A Perfect Life, The Disappearance, Affair and Meeting Mrinal are my favorites. Allow me to bring you to my slight point of view during reading them. I promise there will not be any spoiler in it. It is not easy but I tried. Well, The Word Love and The Disappearance are the most intriguing (let me save you from spoiling the others J). Basically, in every story she wrote, Divakaruni has always been put her position as an observer, a really good and smart one. She observed person’s behavior carefully. I easily gave an empathy to what the characters do when it is intend to show a certain feeling or thought. In The Word Love, ‘Love’ is something too fragile to be practiced. Is it love when we are holding our belief to what our parents’ but on the same time we are ignoring our needing to reach the happiness? At the end, word love should be transforming from one meaning to the other in completing our life. The finding is not easy, sometimes even too risky. Meanwhile, in The Disappearance, the main character, who is always Indian women, showing her strength in the silence. Kind of silence needed by Indian man in their marriage. Unfortunately, the silence is not always golden in marriage. They are screaming inside.
As immigrant in USA, Divakaruni using western life style to reach a proper contradiction against the eastern one in several conflicts. Western and eastern absorbed deeply in the mind of characters. By the end of the story, they are completed each other or the other way, it is nothing but a memory. The finding to accept the new form of culture and belief is so tricky yet interesting. They bring me from one to the other unpredictable situation and end up with a lot of question that sometimes I prefer to not getting the answer. I adored the way Divakaruni wrote the scenes which is so real. The cold of the snow season, the dust of the city, the insecurity of each characters described simply touching.
This book is a nice and warmhearted fellow to every woman who is eager to know some reflections in the Indian’s marriage. A tradition that representing not only Indian marriage mind and living, but also other eastern countries. A migration that needs courage to sailing the heart and soul.
Title : Arranged Marriage
Author : Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Pages : 300
Published : 1997
Publisher : Black Swan Books