Book Review: Brothers: A Novel by Manju Kapur Dalmia

By Dhamini Ratnam

brosThe title of the book may well be Brothers but make no mistake, this book is about a woman, and it is the lives of women, especially the unnamed ones who serve as silent, veiled foils to their husbands and sons, that remain with you long after you have finished reading.

Brothers is author Manju Kapur’s sixth novel, and much like the previous ones, it highlights the lives of women in multiple locations, rural, urban, domestic, public, offering up for view the happenings within the home with the same urgency as the goings on in the world. Kapur deftly weaves a narrative that spans eight decades, from World War II to the first decade of the 21st century.

The title refers to siblings Himmat Singh Gaina and his younger brother Mangal, sons of Dhanpal Gaina of Lalbanga village, east of Ajmer. Dhanpal is the younger son of Lal Singh; his elder brother, Virpal, runs away from the village to escape its endemic caste war (the Gainas are Jats, and live in rivalry with other castes such as the Rajputs, Gujjars, Yadavs, Bhils and Malis). He begins to live in Ajmer, and thus escapes taking part in the war. When the English come calling for able-bodied Indian men to join the colonial army, Dhanpal enlists, and eventually fights in World War II. As Virpal grows up in the city, he joins the fight for independence, eventually co-founding the Indian Progressive People’s Party (IPPP), “with its roots in Hindu culture and identity”. When he hears about Dhanpal’s enlisting, he returns to his village, a rich(er) man, no longer a farmer but a businessman with political ambitions. Read more

Source: Live Mint