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ISSN: 0974-892X


Jan-July, 2014



Notion of Survival in Manju Kapur's Home

Dr. H. N. Prasad

Asst. Prof. (English), Dept. of English & MEL,University of Lucknow, Lucknow


Manju Kapur, an Indian novelist writes novels like Difficult Daughters, A Married Woman, Home, The Immigrant, Custody. She attempts to fight for women cause in her novels. She raises a voice of middle class woman. Manju Kapur’s female protagonists are mostly educated. They aspire for their place in the conservative society. Manju Kapur, like other novelists Geetha Hariharan, Kiran Desai, Bharati Mukherjee presents a gambit of very wide range of women world in which the female characters come out with their sprits of making effort for their survival. Many critics study Manju Kapur as a novelist of feminism from passive and submissive world. But her sense of survival is very much critical. The critics as Ashok Kumar, Vandana Pathak, Urmila Dabir and Shubha Mishra have critically gone through her novels and tried to establish her as novelist of complex terrain of Indian set up. Even various journals and literary reviews as South Asian Review, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian have discussed her works widely. Manju Kapur's notion of survival appears in the novel Home (2006) where the novelist comes to explain the significance  of home. Her character Nisha who tries to get her survival for a home of her own.  It    reminds   Nissim Ezekiel’s  view of home as he wrote that the image of Home was that where we have to gather grace.
The novel pictures a joint family. Banwari Lal and his two sons – Yashpal and Pyre Lal. They are well settled in business.  Yashpal's wife is Sona and Pyare Lal's wife is Sushila. Banwari Lal has a only daughter named Sunita who is  wedded to Murli. Murli is a jobless person. He irritates on Sunita. They have a son-Vicky. Vicky is a lean and thin boy of  shy nature. Sunita dies of burning. The family thinks about business and  its settlement. The aspects of peace, pleasure and lifeful environment are a matter of seeking survival. Sona lives with her husband Yashpal. Her sister Rupa is also married to a boy of Government job. Sona and Rupa are childless. Even, the younger brother Pyare Lal gets married to Sushila. Sushila gives birth a baby boy. The childless Sona makes a lots of effort to sustain in this family where she is taunted badly as it was past karma that you could not give birth. She faces many oddness but continues her  patience to  get child. She starts her fasting on Tuesday, living a life of devotee. It avers the sense of survival as the novelist writes :              
She had tried to make sure her in – laws never regretted her husband’s transgressive love, proving her suitability every     day, year after year. She was humble, easy to  mould, and ready to please. Sona was gold, like her name.   But  what use was all this if the Banwari Lal blood did not pass on in its expected quantity ? (Kapur, Manju 15 ).
After that Sona continues her prayers to child. But on the other hand, while Sunita dies. Her son Vicky has been brought to Banwari Lal's family, here, there is a struggle who will care this ten years old boy. Sushila has already small baby who is looked after by her. Yashpal and   Sona, they are childless, Sona has some spared time to look after this poor boy. But she has her belief in prayers and she says that this boy is a boy of another woman's womb. Then  her sister Rupa suggests her and  tries to exam Sona.  Manju Kapur's notion of survival is very much pertinent as:                      
Poor Sona, if only she could get rid of certain notions her life would be easier. Having Vicky was   not  such a bad thing, all the boy needed was a little love,  he  was still a child, and from the same family. (28).

Further, Sona’s prayers are answered and she gives birth a baby. She is Nisha. Rupa, her sister feels happiness, thinks that her sister's childlessness is now ended. Yashpal realizes extreme pleasure because he adds a person to Banwari Lal’s family. This moment was a moment of great boon because after a long gap, Sona gets her fulfillment of having off springs. It was a result of her notion of survival as she kept on paying attention to her penance. It also hints the sense of survival that makes the shape of home where the curse of barrenness has been demolished and fruitfulness comes. Vicky who is living in Delhi after  his mother's death. He has been cared by Banwari Lal’s family especially Yashpal. He studies here. Vicky also tries to survive here. The novelist  remarks the notion of survival as :
Vicky stepped through  the mud  carefully in  imitation of his       grandfather and  uncles.  Now  he  was  part  of   the  earning section of the family.  His  status  would  change:   he  would       be looked up to, and given the respect that was given them.(46)
For Nisha who begins her career in Banwari Lal’s family but she gets a safe shelter in the home of her Masi Rupa. There, she gets admission to class I. She starts her life for survival of womanhood. As the novelist describes, ‘‘ The pattern of Nisha’s next ten years was now set. She spent all week with her aunt and uncle.’’ (75).  Even, Vicky who is also trying to put his effort to survive himself in this society where he loosed his motherhood. His aspiration for survival from  childhood to manhood takes several ups and down. After his high school, Vicky married to Asha. He enters to take another responsibility where his effort to garner survival begins. Vicky is now installed in the barsati, which has a small room on the terrace. This set-up perturbs him and he thinks to attain his survival in a settled way. He has his son Virat, but the settlement is still very poor, as A.N. Dwivedi in his article ‘‘Manju Kapur's Home (2006) : A Feminist Reading’’ remarks "A son, Virat, is born to them, but Asha never hopes that she will get a new home or that her status will be elevated in the Lal family.’’ (Kumar, Ashok 40).
Vicky’s struggle for survival goes on and he talks to his elders in the family about his own shop as Virat Baba Suits. He wants to set-up his own shop so that he may elevate his living status. The novelist aims to focus her philosophy of survival powerfully in the deliberation of Vicky. He does not get permission to establish his own shop but his sense of survival for it, is very high and remarkable.  He  shares  to  his  wife  this whisper of the family where he was not allowed to begin shop. He feels resentment but notion of survival comes out itinerantly as:
Never mind,  there is still  plenty of time,  we do not know what the future holds.  We must wait,  be patient,  maybe  after Ajay-Vijay-Raju start working, and there is no room in the shop, they will want you to start something of your own. (111).
After the death of Banwari Lal, his wife lives a life of seclusion. She needs a lots of support from her family members.  Sona and Yashpal try to help her in every possible way.  Nisha comes back  from her Masi's Home. Ajay gets married. Nisha, after completing school education wants to take admission for higher studies. But her mother Sona is of the view as for a girl, there is no need of higher studies because ultimately she marries and will have children. So, Nisha tries to start her survival attitude for college education, and she  gets admission to English honours at Durga Bai College. For the first time she leaves Karol  Bagh to College alone. The novelist points the notion of survival as Nisha did for her education. Even she comes close to a boy named Suresh whom she has no enough knowingness but both the persons feel love to each other. Here, she understands many practical aspects of life. She  struggles sometimes for her choice but she has hopelessness. Besides it,  she keeps on struggling for her survival as an independent woman. she remarks on the differences of  man  between  man  but it evinces  a  sense  of survival as:             
She thought of the love that had driven her own parents to marry, of  all  the  films  she  had  seen,  with  myriad  combinations  of unequal  background  between  boy  and  girl:  rich-poor, Hindu-Muslim,  Hindu - Christian,  high  class – low   class,   educated-uneducated. (149)
Now, Vijay marries to  Rekha. The Banwari Lal’s family suffers from accommodation problem. Even the shop of Karol Bagh and its upper part as house does not meet out the problems of the family. Ajay and  Seema, Vijay and  Rekha, Vikcy and  Asha, they all faced a lots of problems. Yashpal and Pyare Lal feel that after their father's death the bad time begins for this family. They all try to survive in their own ways in the family. Nisha also continues her effort to do the same. The parents think about Nisha's marriage. Nisha’s mother feels that Nisha's  problem is that she is a mangli - she was born in inauspicious hour. Her mother thinks if a boy is also mangli then the inauspiciousness has been lessened in her marriage. But she loves a boy Suresh whose view about mangli is totally different. He says that for modern educated society there is nothing  like mangli. The novelist indicates the hurdle between this relation as caste and poverty. Nisha makes a lots of effort  to clean out this hurdle and feels herself survival with Suresh. She has been badly observed by her parents, Yashpal, Sona and  Masi Rupa  and uncle Prem Nath and  brother Raju but still she has heartily feeling with Suresh. She was traveled with her brother but she sat in that restaurant where she passed hours and hours with Suresh. It shows her sense of surviving love with Suresh as:
when she  had  actually  been  sitting  here  with  Suresh, she hadn’t thought she was that happy.   They  had   eaten,  hung around, and left. Now,  every   minutes   reminded   her so vividly of him that her breath, as it slowly came and went, cut her to pieces.(213)
Nisha suffers from eczema. Her condition is very pathetic. The family members are trying to survive her into pleasant look. She  shocked to listen her marriage to another person. But after sometime, she thinks as her family is also a matter of her importance. Nisha’s younger brother Raju gets married to Pooja.They have a daughter Shuchi. There is an effort about Nisha's marriage also. Every one makes a lots of attempt to get a suitable boy to her. She teaches at a nursery school. She sets - up a shop of Nisha’s Creations where she sales bridal suits. The novelist expresses the notion of survival in relation to Nisha. She did a lots of work to stand herself in the society and tried to get a home of her own. She has been married to Arvind,  a widower of 34, having a motor parts shop of  his own. At this moment Nisha's survival to find a home of her own has been materialized. She finds a home where he has a son and daughter ,as :
Nisha clutched her daughter tightly   to her breast.    Her   milk began  to spurt  and  stain  her blouse.   She   quickly   adjusted her palla and looked up.Surrounding her were friends, relatives, husband, babies. All mine, she thought, all mine. (337).
Therefore, the novel revealed all aspects  of such notion which proves the matter of survival. For Home which is the image of grace, peace and  prosperity, wealth and happiness and so on. Vicky efforts with his wife Asha. Sona's struggle to get her survival over her curse of barrenness, and she gets her children – Nisha and Raju, it is very much significant in the novel. Nisha who  represents  a  telling  example  of  her survival  to find a home of her own, this is very remarkable. Ajay and  Seema, Vijay and Rekha also struggle to get expanded accommodation. They present the spirit of survival. In this way, Manju Kapur's notion of survival treats not merely one home and  hearth but many others and all these homes are interlinked to the Home of Banwari Lal. So, Kapur’s idea of survival is pioneering in the home of traditional set-up all well as modern set-up.                  

1. Dwivedi,A.N. ‘‘ Manju Kapur’s Home (2006) : A Feminist Reading’’    in Novels of Manju Kapur : A Feministic Study . ed, Ashok Kumar. New Delhi : Sarup Book Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 2010.Print.
2. Ezekiel, Nissim. ‘‘ Enterprise, Ten Twentieth-Century Indian Poets’’ed. R. Parthasarathy. Delhi : OUP, 1976. Print.
3. Kapur, Manju. Home. New Delhi : Random House Publishers, 2006. Print.
4. Pathak, R.S. Modern Indian Novel in English. New Delhi : Creative Books, 1999. Print.
5. Woolf, Virginia. Killing the Angel in the House : Seven Essays. London : Penguin, 1995. Print.