The business of marriage

2009-10-21 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

The  Many  Conditions of Love

Farahad Zama

Penguin

THE Many Conditions of Love is a popular romance fiction set in India. The story deals with a common and ancient situation in India and other countries where tradition-abiding ­Indians live: that of the arranged ­marriage. There are lists of rules ­surrounding arranged marriages and then there is the prohibition of certain relationships: those that cross caste, language and religion.

The story revolves around a business — The Marriage Bureau for Rich People — which is managed by Mr Ali. Together with his personal assistant Aruna, they find suitable marriage partners for clients with very detailed requirements. Mr Ali has a son, Rehman, who is a free-spirited, hand cloth-loomed clothing wearer, and leather-sandal clad, long-haired young man. He travels around on a motorbike and spends his time fighting for the rights of poor farmers.

During his protests he comes across a beautiful Hindu journalist whom he falls in love with. As you can imagine this information is not received kindly by her parents as Rehman is a Muslim. Her parents sabotage her relationship using some extreme tactics. I won’t tell you the outcome of their relationship.

The story also deals with Mr Ali’s personal assistant: Aruna. Aruna hails from a very poor family and is married to a rich doctor. She begins to have problems with her in-laws and this is mainly due to her past. The first half of this novel moves slowly and then the plot takes a sudden turn and the pace increases, making the story readable. The story has an unexpected twist in the end just when you are certain that you know what the outcome will be.

The story deals with a complex ­issue in a very simple realistic manner and also offers the reader insight into the various cultures that exist and ­intermingle in India. There is adequate description of cultural events and ­customs. There is an exciting description of a monkey wedding. “What’s that?” you ask. Well, you will have to read for yourself to see.

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