One thought halfway through the book: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”.
By the end of the novel, I thought it was about how people create their own illusions. Like how Mahendra deluding himself about how Binodini felt for him; Binodini’s schemes started with her desire and perceptions about love; Rajlakshmi’s fluid views of her son, Bihari and Asha; Asha’s own views about Bihari; Bihari’s changing opinions of Binodini and Asha.
Should be a school literature text.
Rajalakshmi – mother of Mahendra. Unwilling to cut the apron strings to her son. Arranges a marriage with Binodini (niece of Annapurna).
Mahendra – willful and impetuous son. He initially wanted his friend, Bihari, to marry Asha. But decided he should marry Asha.
P119. Mahendra blurted out husband denials of ever being in love with Binodini and even accuses Bihari of converting Asha.
P130. The manipulative side of Mahendra. He subtly asked Asha what if he were to stray in her absence, and got his simple-minded and innocent wife to agree that it would be her fault. Which also shows his lack of fortitude/ backbone. If he consciously decides to cheat, why seek implicit permission?
P145-147. Tipping point in Mahendra and Binodini’s affair.
Mahendra was lost in the fantasy of the affair while Binodini went about her daily chores and still managed to flirt with Mahendra. Even when Mahendra’s mother walked in and asked what Mahendra was doing in
the room, Binodini and Mahendra were quick to respond naturally that Rajlakshmi didn’t suspect anything. In fact Rajlakshmi could only think of how well it was that her son was willing to help Binodini with household chores.
Asha was a person who could have imagined that there was something going on between Mahendra and Binodini. When Mahendra turned a cold shoulder towards her, she thought it was because of rumours that Bihari was after Asha.
The thing was that Mahendra and Binodini’s affair did not involve sex. It was enough that they crossed the inappropriate boundaries of contact and thought between in-laws.
Chpt 33, P175. Asha learns of Mahendra faithlessness through a letter, written by Binodini in response to Mahendra’s pinings.
Chpt 35, P184. another tipping point: Binodini reveals the situation to Bihari; Binodini tempts Bihari.
P239. “This viper who with its salivating tongue was lasciviously trying to coil its abominable body around her was her own creation.”
P245. Rajlakshmi blames everyone except herself, for spoiling Mahendra.
By chapter 52, it was clear that while Mahendra and Binodini got what they wanted (i.e. alone to themselves) it was hardly the romantic life they each envisioned.