Ladies Coupe by Anita Nair

Feb 18, 2013
I picked this book reading the synopsis,'The story of a woman's search for strength and independence'. When I started reading it, I could very well tune myself with akhila and her family, as if they lived in the neighbourhood. The characterisation of akhila's father is a perfect depiction of a common man with a family to feed, unhappy job and hand to mouth monthly wages. He is that common man who struggles to keep his moral values at his job only to be paid back with being mocked at and cornered. he is that man who lives through his unhappy job to earn a living and how his wife makes sure his Sundays are special in her own little way. His sudden demise and how akhila has no choice but to replace him as the head of the family are very convincing. But Why the author leaves a hint of akhila 's father choosing his own end and in what way it helps the story is something am yet to find an answer.
Having journeyed with akhila, we feel the desperation when she wants to stop being a provider and have a life of her own, when she argues with her siblings that she doesn't need their approval to live independently, when she sets out on a journey to kanyakumari to discover herself. At times, Akhila had been choosing for herself when she chose to eat eggs, when she secretly enjoyed the caressing of unknown hands in a crowded bus, when she chose to love a man younger to her, when she went on a weekend trip with her lover disguised as an official trip. These weren't thrust upon her by family, society or fate but still I only sympathised with her as a woman overpowered for a short while by her weaknesses.

My empathy for her continues when she tries to come out of her shell, strike a conversation with strangers, makes effort to enjoy little joys of life in the journey but little did i know it wouldn't last long. The stories of the women in the coupe, especially marikolunthu, kindles a mix of reactions ranging from being Dumbfound to shock to shudder to depression. I would have liked akhila to meet at least one women on the coupe with a cheerful attitude, fulfilled life and one who held no grudges against the men in her life, be it a father, husband, son, colleague or friend.

But the ending is something I couldn't get myself to accept. Though am happy that akhila made her mind to live for herself, Am left wondering if being independent, liberalised and living the way one wants to, means or rather includes having random affairs at one's own will. The part where she woos a man and ends up having a short lived, anonymous affair and moves on to pursue her ex lover only makes the reader's compassion towards akhila drop drastically.

What was it that akhila is yearning for? freedom of choice? Liberation from her provider status? Societal acceptance of living single? A man to call her own? I hope atleast akhila is clear about what she wants.

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