All posts by adhyapika

Learning to live, living to learn

Strange music

strumming in her ears

music of a world hereafter

peering into her heart

songs from afar

dancing rainbows

a few flowers nodding

twittering birds

tunes from within

beauty all around

Ps: What songs say

The conflict between tradition and modernity in the female characters of Anita Nair- Sreelekha

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anita_Nair

https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/entertainment/lounge/chinwag-with-anita-nair/articleshow/21383533.cms

https://fridaymagazine.ae/life-culture/people-profiles/anita-nair-writing-gives-me-a-sense-of-my-identit-1.2304864

Anita Nair is one of the most successful contemporary writers in Indian Writing in English. Her works present the reader a female perspective of events and incidents that unfold in human lives. The novels are also a reflection of mindsets of the Indian woman and show the various socio-cultural conflicts which significantly affect their course of action as they chart out their lives. It is interesting that the novelist is a product of her time and that she mirrors through her characters the angst and agony of the new age women, her struggle to balance tradition and modernity.

The new age Indian Woman’s devotion to family and her aspirations for self – dependence, her desire to uphold morality yet explore her sexuality, her timid approaches to self – exploration to growth and authoritarianism are reflected truly and authentically in Anita Nair’s Characters. 

 Nair’s characters whether it be Meera ,Kala Chithi or Shruthi ofThe Lessons in Forgetting , Akhila and her companions in the LadiesCoupe’ , Anjana in the The Better Man or the delicate Radha in Mistress, stand apart in her own space , facing the music of her life , carving her own niche’ , defiant, experimental and sometimes even temperamental.

Indian writing in English has never been so enriched with female characters so sensual yet so bold, so rooted in tradition yet so rebellious. Nair’s ability to stay rooted in the country which has its own cultural and social idiosyncrasies lends credibility to her characters.

The paper is an exploration of the variety of female characters so cleverly and so truly portrayed by Mrs. Nair that one just needs to look around to see one of them among us. 

In her second novel titled ,Ladies Coupe, ’Anita Nair depicts her female characters with an unmatched understanding of the inherent complicities in their daily lives 

Margaret is a house wife who devises devious means to rein in her arrogant husband. Akhila is a spinster whom one would dismiss as uninteresting but Anita Nair shows us the struggle that she is into to shed that abusive title of a lonely middle aged woman. Marikolunthu is symbolic of the maid who visits your home every day , of whose life you may have no interest , nor inclination to know about , in the novel she reclaims her small island of happiness when she overcomes the pain and stigma of rape and accepts Muthu as her own.

Janaki is the cosseted, cared for woman whom her son accuses of being spoilt . She discovers her love for her husband and joy in his companionship in her old age while facing the brutal verbal assault of her only son.

Prabha Devi redeems herself when she discovers and later masters her love affair with the swimming pool and its expanse of serene blue waters.

Sheela is the little rebel, who places her own identity at risk ,when she sets about to fulfil what she thinks is her grandmother’s death wish.

 Each of these characters wrestle with their destinies, their families , the society to achieve their share of self respect . The demands of tradition and society tie them down to lead vegetable lives until they are awakened by the need for self-assertion and independence which will make their lives wholesome and joyful.

Though Anita Nair refuses to be clamped down by the label of a feminist and though she espouses no desire to bring about a change in the society , her characters in Ladies Coupe’ do inspire an urge to explore ways for wish fulfilment, content and a general self – worth in the readers.

The protagonist of Anita Nair’s Lessons in Forgetting published in the year , 2010 , is a suave , corporate wife who builds her life brick by brick after her husband walks away . Suddenly, Meera overcame her niggling doubts as to whether Giri was in love with her or what she represented as she dutifully donned the cap of a devoted doting wife , an impeccable corporate wife. When Giri, wanders into the hands of a PYT leaving behind their two children, Nayantara and Nikhil , Meera takes up on herself the role of the‘ protectress’ of the family which included her own mother and grandmother. Meera learns to stand on her feet having taken up work as JAK’s research assisstant .She tries to move on but she is haunted by guilt when she finds herself enjoying the attention of men like Rishi Soman and JAK.

JAK and Meera are two consenting adults who discover that they could give each other company and a shoulder to lean on .JAK’s mother , Sharadammal is heartbroken when her husband chooses to lead an austere life as a sannyasi. Later she fights the feeling of defeat by joining for B.Ed and then chooses to marry a quiet Physics teacher and move abroad setting up a new life for herself. 

Kala Chithi ,JAK’s aunt is a woman of  courage who cuts off her long burdensome plait and gifts it to her husband while walking away from his life. She could not stand the shame of having to share her husband with another woman. Smrithi is JAK’s daughter who in her youthful rebellion reduced herself to a tattooed apparition. In an attempt to do something meaningful , the young Shruti seeks to end to sex determination in a remote village in Tamil Nadu, Minjikappuram . However the brutality of the village thugs reduce her to a vegetable state.

The women in the Lessons in Forgetting are driven by a need to be assertive and be counted. They do not let the practices or beliefs in tradition and rituals tie them down. Instead they fight to retain their self- respect under the most demanding circumstances. Anjana in The Better Man is a long sufferer of an unhappy marriage . She had given up all her hope of marital bliss until she met Mukundan , whose gentle , sophisticated ways first intrigued and then enchanted her. Anjana is the one expresses her desire to Mukundan though he is reluctant to take such a step .Radha in the novel, Mistress is a sensual woman bonded in marriage to Shyam who is an uncouth boor to her . It is with Christopher that Radha realises love that is intensely passionate. Radha’s revulsion to Shyam and later her decision to learn to love him following her break – up with Chris adds a new dimension to her character .

India as a country exists in different time zones and the women in the country have the onus of upholding tradition and marching in tune with modernity. It is challenging and difficult .The female characters of Anita Nair balance the values of tradition and modernity in an effort to strike a fine balance between the two. The women seem to draw strength from the tradition and society they belong to even as they try to find self- expression and their individuality. Anita Nair’s characters seem to forever struggle for reinstating their self-esteem against all odds and it is this journey to self-realisation that makes them memorable.

References :

V.Chandra: Journey of Self –discovery in Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe’ Dr(Ms)Rathore,

Manjeet: Images of women in media and literature : Journey from DifficultDaughters to Desirable Daughters

Ms. Barnes Anjali : A Comparative Study of Shashi Deshpande’s and Anita Nair’s Feminism Blog : PeporoniInterview published in The Hindu Literary Review , 2004

Issac, Sithara: Ladies Coupe’ : A Voyage of Rediscovery for AkhilaSarna, Navtej: A Sisterhood of SpaceS.

Suganya: Rupturing the Wedding BondMathiaparanam

Poornavally, R. Saraswathy: Towards Self – Discovery: A Comparative Study of the Lead Characters of Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe’ and The Better Man

Ps: published on www.academia.edu.com

Skywards

I love you, she told the sky

and he blushed deep red

his cheeks now crimson almost

he looked down and a tear dropped

falling on her crystal clear cheeks

it spoke stories of yonder

the teardrop on the cheek

shining pure diamond like.

Upward faced she threw her hands

the sky bent in

for one graceful embrace

it’s a beautiful world, she said

what you are seeking is seeking you,he said.

in silence they stood

a few birds flew

the green grass grew

life is what you make of it

they held hands and looked at each other.

PS: Let there be love

stroll together

A stroll by the riverside

a sunset watched together

a coffee break in company

a book read and shared

a bit of gossip

of an uncle or a far off aunt

a meowing cat

a few birds

a frog’s croak

a cricket narrating

in agitation or exhilaration

little heated backanswers

some notable expressions

of hurt, anger and love

such be love

each day every day

Ps: small acts, rich life

Squishy squashy castles

What fluffy dreams

destinations ethereal

are housed in thee

heavenly travelers

beings so bright

what castles squishy squashy

what worlds

what denizens move about in thy abode

what fragrant flora

adorns thy land

what birds of paradise

what winged creatures

ride thy mysterious paths

what mischief sets thee rolling

floating firmaments

what gods, what souls

what deep thoughts

paint thy moorings

harbingers of mighty

mutant mortality

what munitions microscopic

will thou now unleash

what menace mean

shall now descend?

Thus they spoke:

‘what goes around, comes around’

Love

Love

your presence

gentle

kind

soothing

energizing

a waft of hopefulness

waif like in the breeze

reed grown stronger

with age and tender care

holds a soul in lifted spirits

step in and stay on.

For growing old

in your company

watching the stars

gazing at the sky

watching coffee mugs

mingling aromas

looking for shards

of broken imagery

pulsing poetry

means so much

to me

defining who I am

and who I would be

together in your company.

When branches sway

sweet mornings awake

smiles catch on

to each other

to spread songs

sun rays dancing

words would dance

stories come alive

in silence

we could speak.

Sweet love

step in

stay on

shy be your gentle smile

brooding charisma

be thou who you are

just be

years apart

has just made

a longing deep

deeper

confounding logic

sense and reasoning

sweet love

step in stay on

PS: of dreams in corona

TEach and be enriched

So with the quarantine and the Covid kicking in, the university wore a desultory look. There were no events to be held, no clubs met or no activities to conduct.

An unusual disquiet settled in with the uneasiness of pay cuts and quarantine. What could have been time for rest and rejuvenation was not that at all.

Instead an empty mind held on to old worries, wishes which ran awry,faces which turned away, voices which died and the many which were never heard and churned on fervent emotions scalding the mindscape.

Then it happened, ‘ we want teachers, said my former work space, the L&D department’, ok, so can she not do it?

Yes, of course, we want you to support this team.

Delightfully, I nodded.

Here comes a moment of great wanting, and a long yearning.

Classroom it is!

Even in the discomfort of long distance learning, classrooms are somehow spectacularly refreshing and engaging.

Till we bid good bye to 2020, I can happily be in good company.

Now, who said the universe, never heard?!!!

Well, if you are this quick in granting wishes, I said jokingly, here’s my wishlist, some have been pending for a long time!

She looked away after a quick glance at what I held out.

Well, till such time, go back to classroom, be happy yourself and make others miserable!!!

Of the age of the mind and that of the body

Is there a dichotomy between the age of the mind and the age of the body?

https://adhyapika.co.in/type/link/

The age of the mind and the age of the body, are they two different things? Do some people ‘grow young as they grow old’ ?Are some among us ‘born old’, tending more to the social ideas of how life is to be lived by grown ups?

The numerous posts and updates on social media never tire of reminding us of those who seem to defy age. Posts on young people, especially children who put on an ‘older act’ are extremely popular so are posts that show ‘age-defying’ antics of the old.

I am most certainly not setting  shop for some anti-aging solutions here. But to think of the age of the mind and that of the body as two different concepts is interesting.

Some among us conduct ourselves in ways too different from those of our ‘body age’, and vice versa.

“I just don’t like the way those of my age use swear words and they think I am different!”, said some one.

“Madam”, a friend of mine was told, “If I were you, I would not wear such clothes, not at your age!”, this unsolicited piece of advice left my friend furious and fuming.

As a society, we, have very clear ideas of how a person at a certain age should behave, the brunt of which is often borne by the adolescents, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”!

If you look closely, an individual acts different ages at different times, so much like the way we communicate that is obviously different at home, at office, in social circles, while talking to a stranger,a superior and so on.

Should we not then allow for a little of a ‘child in an adult’ or ‘an adult in a child’?!

Say for instance, the sight of a mouth watering delicacy can bring the child in the best of adults and if talked to and reasoned out, many children conduct themselves in ways more dignified than that of an adult.

Some of us tend to feel more comfortable in the company of those who are of a different body age than ours.Our likes and dislikes, our habits and interests may be suitable to those of  a different body age.

Have you gasped at the sight of a couple who have a larger age gap between themselves?

The times we live in have definitely allowed us to be more acceptable of gender roles and gender reassignment is becoming more common helping individuals know who they are, outside the conventional norms of ‘defined gender roles’.

How then about age? Age reassignment is not yet happening or is it on the way?

How many times have you been asked to behave your age? How did that make you feel?

In India age is still a huge factor in relationships.

Parents would choose someone of the same body age for their wards in the case of an arranged marriage.

In love marriages which are increasingly gaining acceptance, I don’t think its very different either.

In the professional world there are again very rigid expectations with respect to the age bracket you fall into.

My former boss constantly reminded me of the crippling impact of menopause on performance at work, she being younger to me by one year.

I should have asked her to watch the movie, “The Intern”!

The dedication with which the so-called ‘older generation’ has taken to the world of the internet should, ideally, make us rethink our notions of age.

What is your take on the age of the mind and that of the body? Are they two different concepts?

Have you ever been told that you are too young or too old for a job or a relationship?

Do share your views.