While browsing the shelves of Just Books library, KD Road, I stumbled upon Custody by Manju Kapur. Having read three books by this author – Difficult, Home, Immigrant, I was sure this one would be as engrossing as the previous three. Custody surpasses my expectations in storyline as well as narration. Ms Kapur’s themes are always simple about everyday lives of middle class. The first scene shows an illicit relationship. The story has the hook which keeps the reader glued till the last page and then back to page one to savor the book once again. Shagun is a young, married woman with two small children, a well earning husband, a comfortable home and everything else that makes the life of an Indian woman complete but Shagun wants more from life. In the pursuit of an illicit love, she is ready to give up everything.
The story throws light on the institution of marriage. After how many years of marriage one can say my marriage is now secure. The answer is never. A fling, an affair can strike one of the partners at any age, creating a storm in the lives of the couple and enveloping in it everyone else around –in-laws, parents, children and the most important relations between siblings. Does one of the partners has to be a villain for the other to fall out of love and fall in love with another person? Not necessary. Does a woman, a wife has a right to follow her heart? To pursue one relationship, should one sacrifice all other relations? The book leaves the reader with questions to ponder over. The author doesn’t sit in judgement over right or wrong. It asks you to find your own answer. It only gives one message – in such relations no one is a winner, everyone is a loser.
The most impressive is the description of mundane life of people. I have yet to come across an author who had observed human relations as closely as Manju Kapur herself. Her writing style is a mix of narrating and showing.