Title: The Private Life of Mrs Sharma
Author: Ratika Kapur
‘The Private Life of Mrs Sharma’ is an account of about 5 months of the life of Renuka Sharma. Set in Delhi, this book provides a very clear picture of the present day Indian society, which is in a transition period. The transition from traditionalism to modernism & its effects on the present generation are portrayed very well in this book.
Let us meet Mrs Sharma
Mrs Sharma aka Renu lives with her son & parents-in-law, while her husband works in Dubai. Like every other woman of the middle class, Renu dreams of a better & happier future, where she’ll be running an academy, her husband would be earning well in India only & her son, Bobby would be working with a MNC after completing his MBA.
Her mundane life takes a turn or I’d rather say Renu deliberately takes the turn, when she meets a guy called Vineet on Metro station. The book opens with her first meeting with Vineet:
I was walking up to the ticket counter to recharge my Metro card when some man stopped me.
Where are you going? he said.
Can’t you see where I am going? I said.
There is a line here, he said.
I am in the ladies’ line, I said.
I can’t see any ladies’ line here, he said.
I was just going to tell him to mind where he pokes his nose when another man, a younger man, interrupted us.
Forgive me, Bhaisahib, this younger man said in a very calm, cool voice, but let madam go in front.
This is how I first met Vineet.
The opening lines just pulled me in & I couldn’t stop myself from moving ahead.
Renu & Vineet meet every other day at the Metro station, while on their way to work. A friendship sort of thing starts blooming between them. The two are drawn towards each other & one day, they end up having sex. While living away from her husband, Renu finds it difficult to raise her teenage son. He desires to be a chef & wants to leave his school for the same. One day he comes home drunk. Renu tries to be a friend to him but she finds herself failing at this new role.
As such Renu craves for a support, that her husband was supposed to give her. And this support comes from Vineet’s side. When she is with Vineet, she is neither a mother nor a daughter-in-law nor a wife. She is herself & that is what she loves about Vineet’s company. But Vineet is unmarried & doesn’t know that Renu is married. Even when Renu tells him the truth (which she does after having sex with him), Vineet thinks that she is unhappy from her marriage. But Renu is actually happy with her life.
Sex, for Renu, is a bodily need just like hunger, thirst & sleep. So, she doesn’t find anything wrong in having sex with someone. She believes her husband too has sex with someone in Dubai to satisfy his bodily need. But one day, Renu finds Vineet talking to her son in their house. And now she knows that things are getting out of control. With her husband coming to India in a few days and Vineet dreaming of starting a new life with Renu, how will Renu sort out her private life?
This book is a short read & I enjoyed reading it. Renu is a very interesting character. At one time, she appears as a typical Indian Aunty & at some other times, we see in her a woman who is ready to break all the boundaries. It is in her character that we witness a clash between the traditionality & modernity. Be it as a mother or a wife or a woman, this clash is always visible.
The book presents a very realistic picture of the Indian society. The struggle & the aspirations of the middle class are projected very well. The story is told through Renu’s point of view. So, almost everything that an Indian woman experiences is a part of this book. This book clearly shows that husband & wife are two pillars of the marriage and how negligence on the part of any one can cause the whole system to shatter.
The lucid writing of Ratika Kapur makes this book a page turner. It is only at the last chapter that she makes us stop & think about what has happened. The ending came as a surprise to me. I never thought that it would end that way. And even at the end, Renu tries to justify herself. She still feel she has done nothing wrong.
Renu is definitely going to stay in my mind for a long time. It is Renu’s character and the climax that I loved the most. It does seem a bit slow paced at some points but we know that it is about someone’s life. And life is mostly monotonous.
I feel it is great book to read on a cheerful evening or while traveling. Anyone can give it a try.
My Rating: **** (3.5/5)
Have you read this book? Does the story line fascinate you? What do you think about Renu and her actions? Do share your thoughts. Thanks.
*I was very kindly given a copy of this book by the publishers in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed are entirely personal & unbiased.*
You can now join me on Facebook. I’ll be grateful for your support. Thanks.