Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Review: Custody by Manju Kapur

Protagonists:  Shagun, the initially bored & later rather over-active wife; Raman, the hard-working corporate slave; Ashok, the ambitious boss and Ishita, the divorcee.
Set in the 90’s in Delhi, the story revolves around Raman & Shagun and their pursuit for seeking love and companionship. Married for over a decade; Shagun comes to terms with her suffocation and unexciting married life in the arms of her husband’s boss Ashok. Raman, the hard-working and rather unobservant husband realizes his wife’s infidelity when irreparable damage was done.

And then the quest of seeking divorce begins. However, the twist in the tale occurs when the divorce is granted and custody of minor children needs to be settled. The mother; filled with new-found love and the want to marry the love of her life quickly agrees for part-custody of the children. Shifted from one house to another like pieces of furniture; their two children began their early life in turbulence. The defiant son is soon sent to boarding soon while the much younger daughter tries settles in with her father.

In parallel, unravels the life of young Ishita born to typical middle-class East Delhi residing parents whose sole aim in life is to get their only child settled in matrimony. Love soon finds its way in Ishita’s life in the form of an arranged marriage making her postpone her higher studies plans. As expected, the demands for a grandchild mount upon the young couple. Endless doctor visits, medical tests and taunt from relatives shatters Ishita’s confidence and shakes the foundation of her marriage. An ‘amicable’ divorce brings Ishita back to her maternal home with a suitcase full of her marriage transactions.

Two parallel lives of divorcees are brought together with Raman’s younger daughter seeking a mother in Ishita. Fight for maternal love and jealousy surges in Ishita who cannot bear to part with her daughter and soon finds them fighting for full custody of the children.

Manju Kapur’s ‘Custody’ is a sure-shot page turner that will make you yearn to read more. Each character is weaved so brilliantly that you will have empathy towards each of them. Dealing with sensitive issues of infidelity and infertility, Manju Kapur artfully tackles the matter with her skillful writing.



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