Mythreyi gets married to her cousin(I know this is a rarity nowadays, but fifty years ago, it was a common thing, especially in India) without knowing if she really loved him and always felt insecure despite all the love that was showered on her because she felt that she was an orphan, all said and done. So she has lots of expectations on her husband and expects to have a home of her own where she can find her roots and feel more secure. But her husband is a very shy person and though he loves her very much, doesn’t tell her about his love for her. This is the state of their wedlock. Everyone else in the family assume that the couple love each other very much and have fun. In between all this, there are various incidents like one of her maternal uncles losing his sanity, her brother’s marital problems, the tiffs between Mythreyi and her sister-in-law, her friends and their teasings, etc. which she has to deal with care and maturity expected beyond her age. She takes everything as an experiment and learns different lessons from each of those incidents. She wins over everyone in the family and outside with her patience, quick thinking and hard work. But, finally, she loses heart(Niantha ullam, in tamil) and one of her closest aides finds it out. He sets things right between the couple and things end well. Her heart is full of happiness now(Niraindha ullam, in tamil :))
Though this sounds like a fairy tale from the outset, it is basically a bit more. It tells about the Indian family system and the expectations, responsibilities and other complexities that are ever-present between the family members. For example, though Mythreyi’s aunt is her mother-in-law and knows that Mythreyi is going to wed her son, she does not encourage too much socialization between Mythreyi and Seshadhri(her son). This does not mean that she doesn’t want them to have fun as all others but that she places more importance in each of the family members maintaining their present relationships(i.e. cousins, in this case). She is also concerned about the society’s opinion and wants everyone in her family to follow the societal norms. Though our Indian family has developed a lot from that portrayed in the story, every family still sticks to some of the core values shown in it. More on it in the next post.
Till this book came, I’ve read loads of English and Tamil books and novels that have dealt with a variety of themes ranging from murders and mysteries to humor and hazards. I’ve also read a lot of family-based novels, even some of Anuthama’s. But none of them touched me as this one because this novel is very simple(without being simplistic), clear in its approach(some of the authors try to connect different incidents to make up the final story), lucid in writing(all of Anuthama’s novels are, this one is more so...) and doesn’t make love as the be all and end all of life.
[to be continued]