CONGUGAL CACAPHONY IN ANITA DESAI’S NOVELS Suneeta Upadhyay, Research Scholar M. M. H. college, Ghaziabad, C. C. S. University, Meerut Indian novelist and short story writer, Anita Desai is specially noted for her insightful depiction of the inner life of the female characters in her writings. In most of her novels Anita Desai dwells on the themes incongruity, incertitude and hazards of human relationship particularly the man-woman relationship. D. H. Lawrence points out: The great relationship for humanity will always be the relationship between man and woman.
The relation between man and man, woman and woman, parent and child will always be subsidiary. Desai in her portrayal of man-women relationship mostly broods over the predicament of modern women particularly in male-chauvinistic society and her destruction at the alter of marriage. According to Anita Desai most marriages are proved to be unions of incompatibly. Though she does not negate the futility of institution of marriage but depict the psychic state of her protagonist at some critical juncture of life.
She has presented conjugal cacophony in Indian male dominated traditional families. In India where women have resigned role, which does not allow any room for individualism, identity and assertion, Anita Desai talks of women who question the age old traditions and want to seek individual growth. They try to discover and rediscover meaningfulness in life through the known and establish. Thus, Desai dramatises the clash between two irreconcilable temperaments (man-woman) who does not find a proper channel of communication.
She writes mostly about the miserable plight of women suffering under their insensitive and inconsiderate husbands, fathers and brothers. So man-woman relationship brings characters into alienation, withdrawal, loneliness, isolation and lack of communication that frequently occurs in her novels. Most of her novel’s protagonists are alienated from the world, from society, from families, from parents and even from their own selves because they are not average people but individuals. When these characters have to face alienation, they becomerebels.
Anxiety,uncertainties, misery gloominess, disenchantment fretfulness and fright become their lot and they lose their sense of sanity and mental poise, for example Maya in Cry, the Peacock, Sita in where shall we go this summer? And Nanda Kaul in Fire on the Mountain. Some characters like Monisha and Nanda Kaul are unable to reconcile to alienation and meet with a tragic end. The novel Cry, the Peacock, is mainly concerned with the theme of marital discord between husband, Gautama, and wife, Maya.
In this novel dreamy, sensitive and emotional, Maya cries for love and understanding in her loveless marriage with realistic, insensitive and rational Gautama. The matrimonial bonds that bind the two are very fragile and tenuous; the growing tension between them reaches its culmination when Maya in frenzy murders Gautama and then commitssuicide. In Voices in the City, Anita Desai also deals with the incompatible marriage of Monisha and Jiban. Like Maya she is also miserable misfit among her in-laws.
Monisha’s husband is the prisoner of conservative customs and considers that a woman’s most important roles besides child bearing are of family household under the authority of a stern mother-in-law. Monisha feels that her privacy is denied to her. Monisha’s ill matched marriage, lack of intimacy with her husband, infertility and stress of living in a combined family push her to commit suicide. In Where Shall We Go This Summer? Anita Desai highlights how different attitudes, individual complexes and fears add to estrangement between the husband and the wife resulting in conjugal disharmony.
Raman and Sita have irreconcilable temperaments and attitudes to life and confronted with the same problem of husband-wife discord. Sita affirms, “they are nothing-nothing but appetite and sex. Only food, sex and money matters. ” Sita shudders the idea of giving birth to a fifth child in aworldnot fit to obtain it. Against all sane advices she goes to the magical world so that she could prevent the biological process of delivery. Nand kaul in Fire on the Mountain, a great grandmother, totally disillusioned with all marital bonds.
Her husband was the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab University but treated her simply as some useful object in house. He carried on a life long affair with another woman. He is such a coward that he could not marry a Christian lady because he could not dare break social conventions. Nanda could not belong to the family and her position is no better than a house keeper. Outwardly, the Kaul’s are an ideal couple for university community but from inside their relationship is all-barren. After Maya, Monisha and Nanda Kaul there comes a change in the concept of matrimony for Desai’s heroine.
Sarah, Bim, Sarla, Leila, Lotte, Aruna and Uma. They face their problem unflinchingly. They too have their poignant predicament, mental and spiritual incongruity, supremacy of male community, suffering at the hand of their in-laws, conjugal cacophony etc. still they struggle and compromise in their wedded life and survive. They believe there is no other way out and inspite of adverse conditions, life is worth to be lived. In Clear Light of Day rather we get a fresh addition in the treatment of man-woman relationship at the hand of novelist.
Desai does not write about the strain and incoherence between husband and wife but brother and sister. The chief protagonist Bim is left alone after her parents’ death to take care of her aged, alcoholic aunt, younger brother Raja and her mentally retarded brother Baba. It is these burdens and responsibilities that shatter her marital bliss and destroy her conjugal identity. Utterly neglected and treacherously deserted, Bim muses painfully on how the passage of time has ravaged the old relationships of childhood and created a changed pattern of relationship in the family.
Marriage to Bakul affords Tara a means of escape. For Raja Marriage is means to become rich and fat by marrying the one time landlord’s only daughter. In Custody, delineates the theme of marital friction and relationship problem. In this novel, Deven an improvished college lecturer lead an unhappy married life with a gloomy and tedious wife Sarla. has no interest in literature. She is ignorant about Devan’s interest and concludes her husband’s frequent visits to Delhi for meeting his girl friend. Both of them are frustrated in their own ways but they are unable to do anything for each other.
Bye-Bye Blackbird mirrors marital confrontation of Adit and Sarah. Sarah’s inter-culture marriage fails to offer her anything striking and extraordinary. Sarah is peculiarly drifting apart within and try to find her ‘self’ that is lost after her marriage with an Indian immigrant. Her life becomes perfunctory keeping an emotional aloofness from anyone and anything. Anita Desai’s Fasting Feasting represents that repression of woman in India directly or indirectly connected with worn out customs. For Anamika’s parents marriage is seen as the only career for women.
How bride becomes a prisoner in joint family by arranging marriages too hastily which further proved disastrous. The beautiful and talented anamika is regularly beaten by inlaws and finally was slaughtered at the alter of marriage. To conclude, Anita Desai presents to reader her opinion about complexity of human relationships as a big contemporary problem and human condition. So, she analyses this problem due to shows changing human relationships in her novels. She is a contemporary writer because she considers new themes and knows how should to deal with them.
Anita Desai takes up significant contemporary issues as the subject matter of her fiction while remaining rooted in the tradition at the same time. She explores the anguish of individuals living in modern society. Desai deals with complexity of human relationships as one of her major theme, which is a universal issue, as it attracts worldwide readers to her novels. She strives to show this problem without any interferes. In other hand, she allows to her readers who have their judgment about her novel’s characters and their actions. ======== References