Author: Devika Das
Published: 2015? 2016?
Language: English, Hindi
Genre: Let’s call it non-fiction.
The best moment was when I put the book down and vowed never to pick it up again or ask anyone else to read it. Also, that photo represents exactly how flat the book fell, in my opinion. Put your safety glasses on, this is about to get messy.
The book (or booklet?) was reminiscent of the school projects that we must have put together at some point in our academic timelines. Did I sound intellectual there? Big words tend to do that to otherwise simple sentences – a technique this author seemed to enjoy using while writing this book.
There was no publishing information – publishing date, price, and barcode – except for the ‘Pothi.com’ logo on the back. It’s a self-published book and I have no qualms about that.
When an author writes a book, it is understood that it is their views or ideas that they are putting forward, but Das makes a constant appeal to the readers to read her personal views with an objective frame of mind. Why should I be objective about subjective views? What game are we playing?
Initially, I thought the book would make some sense, and I was right because it is all based on common sense. This holds true only when she talks about respect, trust, support and understand in a relationship. Her content reflects the actions we all are aware of and it didn’t feel like “fortune struck brightly” on me. Those are her words, not mine, but then again, we all know what quotation marks are for.
The first turn off, among many, was Das’s inclusion of Hindi in a book supposedly written in English and worse, translation to English in brackets right after the Hindi statements or dialogues. I wouldn’t have been as bothered by this choice of language if it had a purpose. There are instances where you cannot translate an idea from one language to the other, but that wasn’t always the case here.
I had to tie myself to the chair to continue reading. Das gave the impression that she is going to analyse arranged marriages in contrast with love marriages. She started out with that idea and then lost her way in her own maze. There was no coherence of ideas and her tone lacks conviction and direction.
“I don’t want to exaggerate much on this topic otherwise I will end up being a boring lecturer who is delivering a Moral Science class,” she says at the end of the book, when it’s too late to say it.
Das wanted to encourage the readers to maintain the sanctity of marriage through her writing. What she did manage to write was an instruction manual for women and not a great one, too. Das believes that as a woman, you are supposed to praise your husband, support him, listen to what he has to say, give him space, talk to him clearly lest he get confused, acknowledge his every move, laugh at all his jokes, express glee when he plans to spend some quality time, be his confidante, understand his emotions, surprise him when you think he needs a break from his routine and eventually have a successful marriage because you spent so much time boosting his ego.
I continued reading to see what a man had to do while the woman was busy satisfying him and her conclusion was that a man “expresses his emotions vividly. He does not tell a woman everything about what he feels.” I must have been wrong to assume that ‘vividly’ means ‘clearly indicating something’; it’s either that or Das wrote this on Opposite Day.
Das has also decided that women shouldn’t express their desires of any kind as “men might be scared if a woman expresses sexual intentions immediately at the beginning of a relationship” and that the best option for women is “to behave in a flirty but non-sexual manner in the beginning phase of a relationship.” I think it should be left to the couple to decide how they are going to function.
Throughout the book, there are blanket statements and generalisations, other than the ones above, that claim that marriages today have lost meaning and that love marriages (which only mean inter-caste marriages to her) mostly fail because the partners don’t put in enough effort to get to know each other or their families (She had a reference to the ‘2 States’ movie here. Please shudder with me). These are her personal views, so let’s throw reality out the window.
Das further advocated arranged marriages in the same community by saying that it is easy to maintain them because you share a vast cultural background. So, factors like intellectual compatibility, lifestyle choices, attraction of any kind, personal preferences do not come into play in a marriage, right? WRONG.
The crowning glory was when she provided case studies of ‘real couples’ who have had love marriages to support her beliefs about arranged marriages and their maintenance. Please take a moment to let that sink in. Are you okay, reader? It’s almost over, don’t worry. Das went through the trouble to write a whole book/booklet to define an arranged marriage – the process, the steps, the whole shebang – and then beautifully contradicts herself with this last section on examples of love marriages.
If this wasn’t enough, Das vaguely deviated to writing about old age in the last chapter. I think it was meant to be a plot twist of some kind. Das has merely stated facts in some chapters and has laid out her own belief system in the rest, which was of no benefit to me, at least.
All that Das has written are truly her own views because she thinks that way and believes in it all. The tone irked me as it appeared to be asking all the readers to follow the same beliefs and “absorb the content”. Another point to be noted – this book is Devika Das’s matrimonial advertisement or profile. She has described the kind of man she wants and stated her preferences quite vividly, in the true sense of that word, down to the last detail where she says, [I want to] “sit on the beach with my partner, watch the turbulence of the waves, listen to soft music, and experience each other’s being”.
The turbulence ends here for now. I have another book by the same author called ‘The Mind Game’ and I definitely need a breather to reset my mind before I read and review that one.
Reader. Learner. Dreamer.
I am all about the little things in life!