Monday, October 29, 2018

HOW DO I DO? When Marriages are not Made in Heaven - Asha Iyer Kumar

How does the memory of a ‘reverie that had once set his youth on fire?’ come back to an old man? ‘Why did the dream materialise again after years in hibernation?’

When Madhavan Nair’s obsession goes beyond limits, his parents get him married to Rajam, the daughter of a relative. How does he reconcile between the woman of his dreams and the woman in his home in the story titled ‘Calendar Girl’?
‘Chandrika soon became an obsession swathed in mystery.’

Madhavan Nair reminisces over his mundane life with his inelegant wife, Rajam, a woman he has never been in love with. He has learnt to live with his wife and children, but with the recurrence of the dream, he is forced to linger on the thoughts of the woman of his dreams, and the ‘vestiges of an old, gnawing sense of deprivation’ begin to pierce his heart all over again.

Do separation and unfamiliarity lead to apprehension in a marriage? How do long-distance marriages survive? After three years of being apart, does a marriage turn incompatible? Or does the fire get rekindled? These are the questions that worry Nirmal, the protagonist of the second story titled ‘Something In Between’. His wife, Veena and he are a pair of perfect parallel lines, each veering off in a different direction. He is shocked when she throws the following sentence at him with utter casualness.
‘Okay, in that case I guess we will have to live with our differences, though that leaves our living together open to questions.

 Nirmal experiences a sense of serenity away from his wife. His mother is his confidant, the one who gives him marital advice and strives to rekindle his relationship with his wife in various ways, a wise lady with immense capacity ‘to adopt everyone despite their flaws.’
In ‘Let Things Be’, a son watches his father go to prison, a disgraced man, and wonders how his mother could continue to care for him. His grandparents disown their son-in-law, branding him a man who has given them much sadness. The son lives out his entire life wondering whether his Appa would ever come back to him. His mother, however, has this ‘unique sea-like quality’ and carries ‘a facade that weathered all her internal storms.’ She cares for him deeply, and encourages him to be strong, saying, “Sometimes you have to be brave enough to do what your heart says.”

As an adult, he ponders over various questions. Had his mother ever fallen out of love with his father? Why did she take the decisions she did in life? What were his feelings towards his father?

The three stories in this novella are bound together as they examine the complexities of marital ties. No marriage is ever the same, and no two people react in the same manner in the face of adversity. The adage of marriages being made in heaven seems a mere misnomer as it is on the face of the earth that problems are thrashed out and often, couples strive to get along, even if they are incompatible.

Asha Iyer Kumar examines three different cases, and convinces the reader that marriages have to be worked on with diligence and patience. She has an easy style that hooks the reader, as her stories deal with the resolution of conflict, followed by acceptance. What makes these stories believable is the fact that these dilemmas could appear in any marriage in a world where the institution of marriage is also taking a beating. The author shows no inclination to soften the blow.

As the saying goes,
“A relationship is like a house. When a light bulb burns out you do not go and buy a new house, you fix the light bulb.”


  1. Thank you, Deepti, for the lovely review of my stories. Glad you enjoyed them. Wonderful to have some phrases highlighted. Tells me how dexterous the reading has been! Hearty compliments for your effort. Pl recommend the book to your friends.

  2. You're welcome, Asha. I did enjoy your stories and the reading was an easy one, mainly because of the seamless and easy style of your writing. Thank you so much for appreciating my review of your book. That has really made my day. Here's to many more books and more writing!


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