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A Review of One and A Half Wife by Meghna Pant

Since the time we are born we become an integral part of a plethora of relationships. As we start growing up, we actually start to understand the importance of those relationships. There are some people who constantly keep on paying obeisance to the relationships around them while there are some who tend to not acknowledge the sanctity of relationships. One and A Half Wife by Meghna Pant is the story of human relations and how it can make and break the life of a person.

One and A Half Wife is the story of a girl-next-door whose life changes along with the trials and tribulations which she faces in the course of her life. The protagonist of the story, Amara Malhotra starts of as a simple girl who lives a life the way her Biji(mother) wants it to be. The strong-willed Biji has only two targets in her life – the first one is to get a Green Card and the second is to get her only daughter married to a rich Green Card holder. The first of Biji’s dreams found shape with the help of her brother and her family leaves India and settles down in America. However enjoying the American Dream was not as easy as it seems to be. With several hiccups here and there, Amara’s non-descriptive life changes when she is married to Harvard-educated millionaire Prashant Roy. Finally, Biji’s second dream also found a fruitful culmination. However, on the very first day of her marriage, Amara saw her vision of a perfect life with a perfect Prince being shattered. Her so-called fairytale marriage was nothing more than sacrifices from her end and selfishness, demeaning comments and indifference towards her from her husband. She was constantly scrutinized and criticised for her looks, her manners and etiquettes by her husband. She tried her best to save her marriage by overlooking the negativities, sometimes stooping down to incorrigible levels, but it collapsed after a few years. With the end of her marriage, the American Dream after which she was running as per Biji’s wishes also came to an abrupt halt. However, life does not stop there and Amara comes back to the place of her birth Shimla to start her life afresh. In Shimla, she is caught in the web between traditional beliefs and modern ideas. With a little compassion and counselling she came to understand what actually is “Her desire” rather than anyone else’s desire for which she has been living and suffering till then.

The book involves a lot of characters and situations which the readers will easily connect to. It starts with Amara Malhotra being taken to a number of pundits by her conservative and strict mother in order to know her future (especially to know whether their American dreams be fulfilled and whether Amara will find an NRI). Way back in the 1990’s these dreams and aspirations of making a great destiny in the USA were quite common. The story also narrates how a divorce and a divorcee were looked down upon by the society. The story also captures how American Dreams can turn into ashes and how parents can blame their daughter for her failed marriage without even a hint of logic behind them. It also describes the difference between the pre-globalised India and the post-globalized India in a subtle manner. The story also addressed the issue that with modernism the Indian society has also seen the emergence of the “moral polices”, the traditionalists who can exercise any sort of coaxing and violence in the name of keeping the society “clean”, “right” and “safe”.

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