Life Fraught with Angels and Demons
Divya Shankar
THE SCENT OF HAPPINESS (Kannukkul Satru Payaniththu) by R. Vatsala. Translated from the original Tamil by K. Srilata & Kaamya Sharma Ratna Sagar, Ratna Translation Series, 2021, 336 pp., 499.00
August 2021, volume 45, No 8

When Prema gets married, little does she know that she will have to toil endlessly and live like a tongue-tied prisoner, listening to the same litany of complaints from her husband every day. Pummelled for three years and ten days, she eventually walks out of her abusive marriage, securing ‘freedom with costs’.

Prema, the apple of her father’s eye, always lacked her mother’s tender care and affection. Derided for her average looks and dull brain, her mother often teamed up with her elder brother Narayanan in mocking her. Prema’s life largely follows a sinusoidal curve with a fairly problem-free life in Bombay turning challenging when she shifts to Jamnagar with her family. Her first taste of freedom, a fleeting one, during her pre-university and undergraduate days in Chennai is followed by a steady slip into an abyss with her marriage fixed.

Persistent mental torture by her extremely dishonest, nonchalant and self-centred husband who is a string puppet controlled by his mother pushes Prema to the corner. When her husband shows no sign of reforming even after the birth of their child, Deepa, Prema ends her marriage to secure her daughter’s future. The climb out of this abyss is arduous as she faces acerbity both at home and at her workplace.

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