After reading about a South Indian joint family in ‘Gachar Gochar‘ (Click), I stumbled upon ‘Home’ which is about a North Indian joint family. Though the families have different cultures and have different values, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the two. On one hand, joint family gives you a sense of power. On the other hand, it hides the violence that is inherent in the patriarchal family structure, [which is beautifully explained in Nivedita Menon’s ‘Seeing like a feminist‘ (Click)]. Individuals are sacrificed in the name of family. Dissent is punished because stability is more important than desires and needs of individuals.
In ‘Home’, people are so hell bent on preserving their ‘family’ traditions that a young girl’s sexual abuse is hardly investigated. These are the kind of ugly truths that Manju Kapur explores in this book. I really admire her for avoiding the temptation to turn the story into a melodrama. I mean, the material that she has is actually quite similar to TV serials, which don’t give you any insight into the psyche of the characters. The kind of story that Kapur has..she could have easily turned into a ‘bestselling’ novel (not that there is anything wrong in writing a bestseller). She exposes demons and hypocrisy, but does so without giving a morality lecture. She courageously shows us the grey shades of vulnerable and fragile characters, who look powerful and aggressive outside.
If you are looking for a mature and sophisticated look at the Indian joint family system and patriarchy, then ‘Home’ might be the right book for you.