Throughout many areas in the world, over the span of many many years , women have had to face many difficulties and challenges to be where they are now. Despite this being the 21st century, we still see a plethora of issues surrounding women be it a normal woman or a famous one. Issues ranging from domestic violence, not being given equal opportunities or being undermined just because she happens to be a woman. This is a novel written by Chetan Bhagat with an emphasis on the Indian society and a girl who has to bring herself up to face those challenges.
For those who don’t know, Chetan Bhagat is an Indian English language novelist who has written novels centred around young middle class people with an Indian background. His works are very well known and read in India and has even been adapted into movies. The fact that it relates with an Indian background made it a point of attraction for the young Indian society. Furthermore, his simple and lucid writing style has also been well appreciated.
The one Indian girl depicted in this story is about Radhikha Mehta, a worker at the distressed debt group in Goldman Sachs. She is revealed to be a not so typical girl. She was more interested in studying and getting a good career rather than trying to be pretty and getting married being her ultimate aim. Though she thinks like that, her family is the stereotypical Indian family. So much so, that when Radhikha called her mother to tell that she landed a position in Goldman Sachs with a very large annual income, instead of hearing her mother congratulate her, she heard her mother weep tears of sadness. Sadness, because now that her daughter earns so much, how will she ever get a suitable groom to marry?
Eventually Radhikha decides to marry Brijesh , an employee at Facebook who wishes to start his own business later. The day before her wedding at Goa, she is surprised to see an uninvited guest- Debashish Sen. He was her first love when she went to work in New York. Radhikha tells us how they met, how they loved each other, and how things ended so abruptly and horribly for no apparent reason, which made her shift to Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong.
She tries her best to avoid Debashish and concentrate on her wedding, but she meets another uninvited guest- Neel Gupta. He was a married man , almost 20 years older than her, with whom she had a romantic relationship. A very different set of problems engulfed their relationship which made Radhikha come and decide to get married in India.
With her wedding fast approaching and with two men who never wanted her before now desperate to marry her, Radhikha must come to terms with her conscience and her wishes and try her best to solve this.
I like the fact that the Indian girl described in this novel was not the typical girl who just had marriage as her ultimate goal like a lot of others do. Instead she had a strong dream of who she is and what she wanted to achieve and she did that-especially in a field where men thrive.
Her relationships were not just two random love stories but it went on to show how some things that are attached to the tag of being a woman never change. It’s not that being a good wife and a good mother are bad. But trying to reduce women to merely just that when they are capable of so much more is cruel. Both her relationships were stories of two opposite polarities. Whatever she never saw in Debashish, she saw in Neel. But even that had so many flaws that couldn’t be overlooked.
I did enjoy reading this book. But I just have one question.
When her first relationship ended, she went to Hong Kong. When the second was ruined she went to London. All the while she had enough money and resources to take care of herself. But what about those women who do not have the money and resources to run away from their problems? What about those women who faced their problems, head on? Of course this is the story of just one girl. But it just got me thinking of countless others. Some who weren’t even half as lucky as Radhikha to get basic education, just because they happened to be a girl.
I am a woman myself and like many others who have said before me, it’s sad that things have only been really changing for women after we had to go on an open shout out like #metoo. I was watching a TED talk a long time ago called “Man enough” . It was the stereotypes that men have to face. Men have to be strong and tough. Men have to talk about women who are total strangers to them amongst themselves in so many ways-most of them bad. It’s a wonderful TED talk and it’s worth the watch.
There was this other video I watched where the mothers of some very prominent men who do cat calling on women in a particular area were called. These mothers were made to dress in a young lady-like manner. The kind of women who has a chance of suffering from cat calling. Their faces were covered with a hat and they were made to walk in front of their sons and hear them cat call. The mothers take off their hats. The rest of the reactions are priceless. When it comes to each person’s mother, sister, girlfriend, wife or daughter, it matters. But remember this-every woman is a daughter or a girlfriend or a sister or a wife to someone else. We are already judged so much by even by the people who know us. Imagine having total strangers jeer at you like that on the street.
This is not about women or men. It’s about stereotypes. We all know it’s wrong but we still act according to it. We all know that if we step out of these stereotypes we can solve so much of our problems. Then why aren’t we?
I think it’s something worth thinking about.