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Title: The Immigrant
Author: Manju Kapur
Publisher: Random House India
Price: Rs. 299
Summary: The story of an NRI couple
The story is set in 1970’s, and talks of the lives of a newlywed NRI couple. The story starts with Nina, a 30-year old, an unmarried college lecturer at Miranda House college, Delhi. Her childhood was spent in Bruseels, where her father was at the foreign office. Post his death, the mother-daughter duo returns to India. Her mother believes Nina deserves a better lifestyle. Nina continued to see the dark end of the tunnel.
Ananda, Halifax-settled NRI dentist, had left New Delhi after his parents were killed in an accident. Ananda’s sister and Nina’s mother take the initiative and soon, Ananda and Nina meet and later, corresponding via letters (remember, it’s the 70’s when postal service ruled the communication!). Nina finally consents to the marriage. Soon after marriage, she leaves India to join her husband.
The story starts from here and explores the emotional and physical aspects of a married relationship. Ananda goes all the way to make Nina feel comfortable. But, Nina seems to live in her own world and doesn’t make much effort to make the marriage work. Soon, both find themselves having an affair instead of making their relationship work better.
In the beginning of the story, you believe, Nina is the straight forward kind of woman, who wants to lead a good married life. When and where she changes is beyond understanding, though it’s only Ananda she has in Halifax, several miles away from her own mother and motherland. As you read the story, you may begin thinking why the author hasn’t gone deeper into Nina’s thoughts and why she couldn’t adjust to her husband, who was helping her with household chores, attempting to help her find a job, gave her the freedom to do multiple things she liked and so on. Marriage is all about adjustment and compromises, but Nina wasn’t keen on adjusting much like her husband. Like me, you may find many unanswered questions in the story.
Having personally known people who have changed after moving to U.S and Canada, and how they drifted apart from their loved ones (read after opting for ‘love marriages’), it doesn’t surprise me how people can change in a different culture.
The author has well-explored how people change to adjust to a new culture, their turmoil at such circumstances etc. If you like reading intimate portrayal of married life, go for Manju Kapur’s The Immigrant. She has indeed gone to the depth, with finest details. However, it may not be what every Indian would like to read. Personally, I don’t enjoy such storylines, especially when they go in-depth to portray the intimate details of a married couple.
If you have been raising high hopes of life abroad, probably this story could give you a warning, all is not that green on the other side of the planet.
Finally, there are so many reasons for which you are likely to like the book. Read for yourself to know why. Happy reading!