Saturday, September 3, 2011

Home by Manju Kapur : Book Review

Home is the saga of a big fat Indian joint family of Karol Bagh. The Kahani Ghar ghar ki begins with Banwari lal , a well –to- do cloth merchant is proud of his humble beginning in Lahore in Pakistan. The novel depicts a day in the life of a conservative Indian family of yester years, their behaviour, the elements that guide their behaviour and other fine nuances of their psyche are depicted descriptively thus enabling the reader to actually experience their lives. The epic that spans across four generations portrays the stereotype roles - men have the responsibility to take the family business/ name forward and women to enable it by procreating sons and making sure that the house the men folks return to after a hard day is a home and not just a house. Each one is groomed about his/her role early in life leaving little scope for conflicts.

The story begins well with two sisters Sona and Rupa, former the fair and lovely wife of Yashpal, the elder son of Banwari Lal and the latter a dark plain jane married to Premnath, a junior level government clerk. Banwari Lal’s progeny …two sons and one daughter… Yashpal, Pyarelal and Sunita , their respective spouses beautiful Sona, practical Sushila and jobless drunkard Murli, third generation Raju, Nisha, Vijay , Ajay, Vicky, Pooja, Seema, Rekha , fourth generation Virat , etc etc… the story gets lost in characters. At times the reader finds it difficult to keep track. There is no central character, central characters keep changing.
Manju Kapur very adroitly brings home the crux of joint family structure; the family members stick together and support each other in spite of their differences and internal jealousies. The brothers not only take care of Vicky, their dead sister Sunita’s son , they marry him, perform all the ceremonies for his wife and child in spite of his being the black sheep of the family and an unwanted burden but he is still their own blood and family.

Nisha, the gorgeous only granddaughter like other women of the family is brought up with values that for an ideal woman home, family, kitchen and the children come first and rest everything is farce. Such values may not be relevant today with generation Y even in small orthodox towns. Nisha has to suppress her desires first to study English literature, then to marry the boy of her choice and then to set up her own business. The women are groomed to behave as per the expectations of the family, those who think of going beyond this periphery remain unhappy!!
Did the sexual molestation by Vicky leave a permanent scars on Nisha’s life ? What happens to childless Rupa ? Why does she leave her claim on Nisha to whom she has brought up like her daughter? Such questions remain unanswered. Published in 2006, Home is the first fiction genre by Random House. Overall it is good read, the language used is very simple and the scenes flow naturally and swiftly without giving readers a temptation to turn pages.

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