Marrying Anita – Review
|Title of the Book: Marrying Anita – A Quest for Love in the New India
Author: Anita Jain
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, London
Price: Rs 495
‘Marrying Anita’ by Anita Jain comes close on the heels of Kausalya Saptharishi’s ‘The TamBrahm Bride’, and I found a similarity between the two novels. Both fall under the genre of self-confessional novels/memoirs and are set in Delhi and the protagonists talk about their matrimonial journey, in search of a Mr Right.
The similarity ends there and the contrast begins: one, who is a software professional with her traditional values intact, after being turned down by many prospectives because of her dark skin, ultimately gets married and lives in the US, the other, a New York-based Indian American “liberal-minded” journalist, after unsuccessful attempts to find a husband in the permissive society of the West comes all the way to India to try her luck at an arranged marriage having heard so much about arranged marriages which are still prevalent in India.
Anita is very honest in expressing her intentions: “People commonly go to India to find themselves or to find God, but I went to India to find a husband. I would give myself a year, what I figured was ample time in such a marriage-oriented society.”
She is brutally candid about her concept of a modern husband and wonders whether she would be able to find someone who would fit her definition: “I wondered if I would be able to find someone modern enough in his thinking to be comfortable with a wife having a great deal of her own agency, not just in terms of making decisions for the household but having a full life outside the marriage – one that included going out with friends, drinking and smoking. A woman who has had sex in the past – and not just with those two long-term boyfriends. I wasn’t sure what I would find, but I owed it to myself to try.”
Finding a place on rent in Delhi proves as arduous a task as finding a husband for Anita, as she learns, unlike in New York and London, landlords are reluctant to have single women as their tenants. In course of time she is able to fix an apartment through the help of a broker and her social life begins with a bang which she absorbs with no qualms whatsoever.
She meets divergent people in the process including a few small town folks who appear less inhibited compared to a decade ago when she had last visited the place.
Her relationships are ephemeral in nature and she soon realises men in India are no different from those back home when it came to tying the knot. All avenues, including popular matrimonial sites, are explored to find a groom but the experience only ends in disappointment and disillusion.
I expected the denouement to take me by surprise but, true to the saying, Anita’s matrimonial journey, which she begins with a bang, ends in a whimper!
However, the novel certainly has its redeeming features despite its lack of a theme — the author’s racy style and her sense of humour which is evident in her description of some of the eligibles she comes across.
The cover needs special mention where we find two outstretched hands of a bride displaying a beautiful mehendi drawing. Perhaps a title like ‘A Bride in Waiting’ would be in keeping with the picture.
|N. Meera Raghavendra Rao|