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SISTER OF MY HEART
Transcript of SISTER OF MY HEART
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Sudha and Anju live in the city of Calcutta, India.
Women in the society
Sudha tells us that thier freedom is restrictive in every aspect of thier daily life.
"...our existance was restrictive, yes...I knew most sixteen-year-olds boys in Calcutta didn't live like we did.." (Divakaruni, 51)
Sudha asks her mother why can't a widow get re-married while, the widower can?
Sudha's mother in-law expects her to only give birth to a baby boy and complains that, her friend has a grandson, while she doesn't and how Sudha can't give her one.
Anju and Sudha's mother didn't like them talking to guys so, they went to a Girls Catholic School. Their caretaker Ramur ma(female) would always accompny them to school and no male servant was allowed in the house.
Sudha was the one who was blamed for infertility, when the couple wasn't able to bear a child.
"...something must be wrong with Sudha, look how it was four years already and she didn't have even one baby to show in all that time..." (Divakaruni,189)
About the book
SISTER OF MY HEART
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The city of Kolkata, is the capital of the Indian province of West Bengal.
Love is a major theme of the novel. Sudha's love for Ashok and their love story is really similar to the famous love story of Heer & Ranjha, where both of their families were against their marriage because of different castes but finally they end up living together.
Struggle is another major theme of the novel. Sudha's struggle against her culutral roots and her fight for saving her unborn daughter is very similar to the struggle of Rani Lakshmibai aka "Queen of Jhansi" when she went into battle, with her 3 year old daughter, fighting to save her kingdom after her husband's death. She is referred as one of the "Greatest icons of the Indian National Movement."
But there are three other connections which are more important to the main character(s):
Sudha tells Anju that her mother in-law will not accept a granddaughter in her house and has made an appointment for abortion.
"...my mother in-law's made the appointment for my daughter's abortion already...if I don't go on my own will, she will find a way to take me..." (Divakaruni, 164)
Sudha tells us that it is believed if a child is extremly lucky the sweets will dissapear the night the baby is born.
"...did the sweets disappear for us?...No, Sudha. You weren't so lucky...maybe bidhata purush doesn't come for girl babies.."(Divakaruni, 5)
Anju tells us that she wasn't allowed to touch anything edible (which can be eaten) when she was on her period.
Sudha tells us that no one came to their book store and it was not making any profit because her mothers were widows and people didn't like to buy anything from them.
When Ashok and his family sent a marriage proposal for Sudha, her mothers rejected the proposal as soon as they read his last name, which according to the society was from "lower caste".
"...what will people say when they hear that the Chaterjee's have married thier daughter in a Ghosh(Ashok's lastname) family..."
When Anju asks her mother that if she can marry a guy of her own choice, she is slapped by her mother and sent to her room.
"...who does this Chaterjee girl think she is?..." (Divakaruni, 131)
Before the day of thier marriage, the girls are told that they must do everything what their husbands tell them to, because he is like their "God" from now on.
...Anju and Sudha always remember...pati param guru( your husband is your ultimate god)..," (Divakaruni, 154)
Sudha notices that her mother in-law's attitude towards her has become overly considerate, since Sudha informed about her pregnancy.
ll of this love and caring. I want to shout, is it for Sudha, or for the carrier of the new heir of the Sanyals?..."(Divakaruni, 226)
The novel was first published in 1999 and was followed by a sequel
The Vine of Desire in 2002.
Anju describes the typical market scene on a weekday in Calcutta. "...women, young & old, hailed taxis and climbed in, on thier way to new market or Dalhausie; some maneuvered thier scooters to work through streets packed with buses, pedestrians and stray cows, honking..." (51)
The young generation had already started questioning their traditional values and cultural restrictions forced upon them; they also tried to imitate the latest bollywood fashion and culture. (Hebbar, IBN)
Now Sudha decribes the new "filmi" fashion when she had never heard of or could even think of. "...westernized ones in jeans or narrow-cut skirts that showed off thier rounded hips...thier saris, were in latest filmi designs unlike the traditional ones..."(51)
The city of Kolkata did in the 80s and is still going through the transition of becoming a metropoliton area in a developing country and confronts traffic congestion, poverty & overpopulation. (Chakarborty, TOI)
In some parts of India, women are still struggling for their right of Freedom to express . (Jayaram, Hinduweb)
" A widow threatened to be kidnapped by her in-laws even if she wanted to re-marry for her kids future."
(Jayalalitha, Hindustan Times)
"I want to give birth to a male child or my mother in-law will get my husband remarried, so I will have no place to go" (Devi, a Daily wage worker)
Girl stabbed in the eyes by her father who accused her of having an affair because he saw them at a restaurant together. (Sharma, TOI)
Infertility is a life crisis with invisible losses, if the couple has never conceived despite
cohabitation and exposure to pregnancy (not contracepting) it's the woman who is to be blamed. (Tripathi, TOI)
A father in Bihar is suing his only daughter for defamation after she married a man from a lower caste, saying she has damaged his reputation and social standing.(Mishra, The Hindu)
Indian landowner tells court that he had the right to kill his daughter and her husband because the matches weren't arranged by the parents and the elders of the family. (Burke, The Guardian)
Men can still rape their wives in India after new Government bill. (Nelson, The Telegraph)
"Angry over not getting Rs 500 to buy liquor to celebrate Holi with his friend, the accused, Suresh Koli, 40, a daily wager killed his wife Suman Bai, 35, as she refused to give money that was saved for their two children's education." (TNN, TOI)
Daughter -in -law accused her mother -in-law, for treating her just as a child bearing object. (Wilson, Womensenews)
The aim of my presentation is to find and compare the cultural elements in the novel to what is "real" life.
Our motive is to check that if Divakaruni had presented us with "factual" or "fictional" cultural elements.
After examining most important cultural elements in the novel, with evidence; we can state that these elements exist or existed.
Therefore, Divakaruni presented us with "factual" cultural elements, making the novel highly interesting to read and as a reader, I strongly recommend it.
"All kinds of famines, epidemics and wars are nothing compared to this...In some parts of India, one in every five girls is being eliminated at the fetal stage. It is a genocidal situation." (Bedi, Gynecologist)
"Its believed in Pindari tribes that women are cursed and they need to be born twice if they have to be in heaven" (Amrita , Jagbani)
Menstruating women are considered impure. In many places, they are not allowed to cook or enter temples during that time. (Karthik, Aaj Tak)
In our case, she wasn't allowed to touch anything edible (eatable)
Widows are considered inauspicious and are sometimes labelled as "homewreckers". Some consider it bad luck to see a widow as first thing in the morning. (Murth, Ajit)
Also, Sati was a practice in which the widows were supposed to be burnt alive with their husband's corpse.