Painting Reality
Arundhati Das Gupta
YAHIN KAHIN THA GHAR; YEH RASTA USI ASPATAL KO JATA HAI: TWO NOVELLETES by Sudha Arora Hindi Book Centre, 2011, 175 pp., 250
February 2011, volume 35, No 2

Vishakha is a rebel questioning her familys attitude towards child abuse, medicare, day to day functioning of the household, education of the girlchild, marriage and childbirth. She is in daily conflict with tradition and backwardness, modernism appears logical to her, she is also a brilliant and studious student. She does not understand the daily rituals of her traditional religious family, their superstitions, their compulsions, the grandmothers imposing behaviour, the submissive role of her mother, the repeated cycle of childbirth and child care they have accepted as life. Vishakha wants to be different, she does not want the life of her mother, or the life the family decides for her elder sister who is groomed for marriage and eventually married off to a stranger. The characters are very real, from the blind guru who literally runs the family by giving advice sacrosanct to Vishakhas struggling businessman father and exploits the familys overgeneourous hospitality, to the landlady Guptain who complains about Vishakhas elder sisters teteatete with the Bengali boy next door and Natthuthe daily labourer who cruelly abuses the vulnerable Vishakha in the dark alley entrance to the house.

Yahin Kahin Tha Ghar details the life of a middleclass Punjabi family the Tanejas in Kolkata as witnessed by Vishakha, a teenager growing up amidst the tension of old traditions giving way to the new era of emancipation and rationality.

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