Sunday, December 19, 2010

Someone Else's Garden-Dipika Rai

Someone Else's Garden
Dipika Rai
Harper, Feb 1 2011, $13.99
ISBN 9780062000354

In the rural part of India where family tradition is strictly observed, Mamta is sold by her family in marriage. Soon afterward, her depraved husband sells her kidney to pay for his hookers. When that money runs out he plans to sell her other kidney. Mamta learns of his deadly plan so she flees. With no place else to go she returns home where her father and brother help her escape to another part of India.

Mamta finds employment and sends money home, but her mother considers her dead for leaving her husband as that is an unacceptable breach of custom and religion. Her brother-in-law Lokend arrives trying to win a public office election, but a worker of his rival severely batters him. Mamta nurses Lokend back to health. They fall in love before returning together to their village.

This is not an easy read as Dipika Rai displays a dark gruesomeness in rural India. Not only are female rights ignored as Mamta is sold into marriage and her kidneys and other organs owned by her spouse, but her mother and son-on-law accept that as a husband’s right. A late spin to bring some hope into the gloomy plot feels like an unneeded Americanized addition to an otherwise strong grim look at the ugly side of humanity. Timely with today’s headlines as the House of Representatives Republicans and nine Democrats who voted against the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010 would change their vote if they read Someone Else's Garden.

Harriet Klausner

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