The Paths to Marriage: Mala Kumar

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In the book, The Paths to Marriage, Mala Kumar examines different thematic areas related to Indians in general and then specifically the diaspora. The novel’s first scene begins with Lakshmi in a South India village. Lakshmi is a smart young girl who is hell bent on improving her life situation. Some of the things that are a hurdle to her dreams include the fact that she lives in abject poverty and that the Indian caste system is quite rigid; a fact that feel like an immovable mountain and cruel at the same time. 

By sheer will, through her supportive family and sheer will, Lakshmi manages to overcome the obstacles in front of her and gets through high school. She is almost halfway through college when she gets married though the man is from a different community. With her husband by her side, Lakshmi migrated to the U.S and becomes entangled with the complexities of the U.S. immigration system. 

Once you take a look at the next generation, you meet Lakshmi’s daughter Pooja. The two have a rocky relationship and Pooja is unhappy with the shackles of coming from an American household that still observes traditional Indian values. Lakshmi forces Pooja to get into an arranged marriage with a man from India and she in turn continues to be rebellious against what she feels are injustices and unfairness’s to the ambitions and free will that she should have. Unsurprisingly, her marriage breaks down.

The story moves along to the women in the third generation of this family. In a different setting, they all experience a different hurdle from the women that came ahead of them. Deepa is gay but isn’t ready to comes out to her homophobic mother. Due to her inability to come out the closet, she looses the love of her life.

The story lines of this novel are quite captivating. However, that’s not to show that there aren’t any issues within it. One of the elements of the novel that remain unexplored include the fact that Lakshmi has a sister whom she refers to as “Little Sister”. Another unexplored character is Alpa, Pooja’s sister. 

The main male characters in the novel end up either dying or being involved very little in the development of the book. However, since the male characters are supportive and likeable throughout the novel, their absence is noticeable whenever something happens to them. 

Clearly, Mala Kumar has a keen item for observing human nature in her own unique way. There are different situations within the novel when the reader is exposed to cinematic feel. The novel turns out to be a mixed book and consequently attempts to pay attention to too many issues at the same time. 

However, all the topics tackled by the author are essential and relevant and are fused into the story in a novel way by exploring three generations of women and the unique issues that each generation goes through on its own. It highlights the issue of women’s support systems within the LGBTQ community and the issues of the same community regarding the Indian community.

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