The Story of a Society

Can anyone question the heart, let alone the class of language?
"Like any other curious student, I did wish to find about it myself. Nevertheless, I could only do that if my procrastinations freed me of their dark web."
"Like any other curious student, I did wish to find about it myself. Nevertheless, I could only do that if my procrastinations freed me of their dark web."Special arrangement

BY FATIMA SHERWANI

I, a little while ago, heard of much controversy my fellow university mates have had been attaching with the author of 2 States: The Story of My Marriage, by Chetan Bhagat.

Like any other curious student, I did wish to find about it myself. Nevertheless, I could only do that if my procrastinations freed me of their dark web.

Luckily, I had opted for a paper for my BA honors English, not planned though, called Popular Literature and Culture which had this book of Chetan Bhagat in one of the units for my SEM 1.

Chetan Bhagat, based in Delhi, wrote 2 States: The Story Of my Marriage back in 2009 after quitting his bank job. This book, as he claims, is based on the true story of his wedding odyssey (hence, semi-autobiographical work) where he had had to take enough pains to get married to the love of his life who happened to be from a different state - Chennai, whilst he had the roots from Punjab, therefore, a Punjabi living in Delhi. The book was later adapted into a movie -2 States, a romantic-comedy drama.

Most of the people especially the literati accuse Chetan of the fact that “the literature” misses out of his pieces of work and thus fails to match the certain echelons of academia and doesn’t merit a place therein.

However, I believe when someone writes, whatever the genre is, reflects their assortment of unsaid yet suppressed emotions which they cannot contain in them anymore and want to let out this burden of the heart in any form which they please.

I believe, to write, is not always the art for art’s sake, neither it should be, but the achy ink of heart pencilled on a piece of paper. The key question to be raised is does a person really need a standard to express himself/herself? Why traumatise, and throw cold water on the shoulders of someone for their writing standards when all they want to do is give vent to the emotions. Can anyone question the heart let alone the class of language?

So, I read the novel and it shadows a young boy and girl who desperately want to get married to each other. Just by reading the title-“2 States”, one can make out from the title itself that the novel revolves round the cultural contradictions.

The book gets into the limelight, how families in India become the victim of this. It depicts how culture and race create tribulation and tension when it comes to getting married.

Krish Malhotra and Ananya Swaminathan, the protagonists, catch each other’s sight at IIM Ahmadabad’s mess hell. They become good friends and get into a relationship later on. Indeed, a marriage is affiliated on these terms but in India, a mere love affair between a boy and a girl isn’t enough to make it a success, nevertheless, supplemental steps are to be taken especially when the love is across states or different cultures.

To place emphasis on this fact, in the prologue of the book, Chetan too says, “Love marriages around the world are simple: Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. They get married. In India, there are a few more steps: Boy loves Girl. Girl loves Boy.

Girl’s family has to love boy. Boy’s family has to love girl. Girl’s Family has to love Boy’s Family. Boy’s family has to love girl’s family. Girl and Boy still love each other. They get married.” However, the couple leaves no stone unturned in persuasion of their parents and finally triumph over their families’ reluctance when they approve of their marriage.

Whilst reading the book, a reader comes across certain cultural clichés and stereotypes and many also believe that it a “profound celebration of cultural stereotypes as there is hardly a meagre attempt to sink into the cultural sensitivities of two of the most colourful communities or cultures of India-Tamilian and Punjabi”, which we get to learn from the certain instances of the book.

For example, according to Chetan, Tamilians are Sambhar lovers and vegetarians while as Punjabis can’t live without chicken and whisky. In the novel, one can also find racial and cultural slurs which according to the writer might me funny but are offensive in nature.

Most of the works of Chetan Bhagat are popular despite the fact that it cannot suffice the readers who look for intellectual content in it. Needless to mention, 2 States: The Story of My Marriage is a best-selling book too. What makes it so? Well, the answer is perceptible from the pages of the novel itself.

Firstly, to me, the easy use of informal Indian English, which is quite intelligible, could be responsible for the book’s vast success as everyone could read it. In fact, Chetan has been credited to turn a great many non-readers into readers on account of the fact of his books being in simple English.

Secondly, I dare say that the use of voyeuristic titillation where the author has given several sexual references, is the chief reason behind the novel’s success. Certainly, this has acted as a true gimmick.

I would conclude by saying that the author, in the book, has given reality to the contemporary society in India. Non- readers who want to enhance interest in reading should surely start with this book.

The author is pursuing English honours at Jamia Millia, Delhi.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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