Book Review: ‘The Dark Room’ by R.K. Narayananby Seema Khinnavar on Nov 22, 2012 • 11:13 PM 2 Comments
Price: 100 INR
Set in the fictitious yet famous town of Malgudi, ‘The Dark Room‘ is the story of two women who have but one aspect common between them – they both depend on a man for survival.
Savitri, as the name suggests, is a dutiful, conforming housewife who has never had the freedom to educate herself. In a fiercely patriarchal society, her submissive behaviour quite naturally makes her the victim of her husband, Ramani’s varying whims, fancies, insults and criticisms. She somehow manages to survive within the four walls of her home until the day her husband starts to spend his nights with Shanta bai.
Shanta bai, an attractive, rebellious and intimidating woman is hired by Ramani as an insurance probationer in his company. Being the only woman employee of Ramani’s company, her character would have been quite admirable if only she had proved herself at work and not made it her business to ensnare Ramani in her beauteous charms.
Savitri confines herself to a dark room and tries various other methods of winning her husband back, but Ramani pays her no heed. Frustrated with her life of dependence, Savitri attempts suicide but is saved. Though ‘a part of her is dead’, for having accepted defeat, she ceases to be the subservient ‘Savitri’ that she used to be.
A story as relevant today as it was way back when it was first published in 1956, it certainly makes for a thought-provoking read. It reflects the unfair conservatism of a patriarchal society. Delicately woven around flat characters, and interspersed with short bursts of humor ‘The Dark Room’ accurately describes the typical reality of that time’s orthodox Chennai household. Written in a simple, lucid language, a tale so moving and yet so real, could have only been authored by RK Narayan.
Overall Rating: 8/10
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