My take on the book
The Perfect Groom is not just any romantic story but a story that is being played out in many Indian households. On one hand it talks about the agony of a widow, the pains of being raised by an uncle, the circumstances that doesn’t allow a woman to voice her opinions, the fear of ostracism even if you are stuck in a bad marriage, the inherent dilemma of falling in love despite having a husband and on the other it is a story about coming out of the closet. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Perfect Groom is all these realities, no matter how absurd they sound, and much more.
Nithya, her younger sister Manju and her mother start living with their uncle after the sad demise of her father. Well I don’t know if the demise could be called sad or not, because he brought in enough discomfort to the family with his drunken impropriety. But then again a loss of a father, no matter how irresponsible, is a loss of huge magnitude. And soon after the bereaved family, who probably, internally heaved a sigh of relief, moved on to stay with the uncle’s hand me down dilapidated abode.
Whereas the society would praise the uncle for taking in the family, yet we see the hypocrisy of the same. The uncle and aunt are no saints and they in the course of the story, do everything to make the three women’s lives miserable. So in short their move was from the frying pan to the fire.
This is exactly the reason why the reader’s suspicion’s are raised when the uncle or chittappa, as addressed by Nithya and Manju, find her a groom, Ashok, who is handsome and well settled in the US. Nithya’s mother thinks it’s a blessing to get daughter married to the perfect groom and neither can Nithya believe her lucky stars. So finally, their nightmare should end.
But fate has other plans for her. She soon realizes that her marriage is a sham yet she cannot break away from it for fear of her mother and sister being ostracized.
Nevertheless ‘life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow’ (Maya Angelou), so did life go on with Nithya and changed for the better. Her chance meeting with Vasu, who too was at the mercy of her chittappa, their instant chemistry, which she was blind to at chittappa’s place; changed her whole being, propelling her to take steps that she would not have otherwise.
The Perfect Groom brings out perfectly, the many flaws, pretentiousness and myths prevailing in our society under the veil of morals and culture. And it also underscores the fact that we are in the end, puppets on a chain to the circumstances around us yet it is we who have the power to change the circumstances and change our destiny.
The characters are well etched out and wholesome. They don’t remain stagnant until the end but show a kind of motility and change within them. Though I would have liked Ashok to be more kindly towards Nithya and not too brusque as is made out in the beginning. He too after all, was as big a victim of circumstances as was Nithya. The book ignores his trauma at submitting to meaningless rituals whereas his heart lay elsewhere.
The language of the book is easy flowing and lucid. Sumitha Manikandan has skillfully crafted this book with simple choice of words making it smooth read. Her book is not so much about romance as it is about the myths of our system and where we stand as a society. It is about coming out into the open and accepting each other as they are. It is a book about the quest for happiness.