Monday, June 24, 2013

Stench of Kerosene



Stench of Kerosene tells the story of Guleri and Manak: a couple married for seven years. It takes place in India in the 1960’s. Every year there is a fair, which is held in Chamba. As ‘Guleri’s parents lived in Chamba’, this gives her the opportunity to visit her birth town. But this year Manak is unwilling to let her go. Guleri doesn’t know about her mother-in-law’s plan to give her son a second wife while she is away. This shows the power of the mother-in-law. The mother does not take into consideration her sons feelings, however she is looking for her own interests. As Guleri is unable to produce children, this is a real setback as having babies is an important part of being a woman in the region. Manak ‘wanted to retort…. but he remained silent.’ Manak had to obey his mother and custom. ‘Obedient to his mother and to custom.’ He was doing what his mother had wished but his ‘heart was dead within.’
Guleri is so delighted at the opportunity to meet her family and friends. She tries to cheer up Manak who is feeling unenthusiastic.
Manak was working on the fields when an old friend appears. He is ‘going to Chamba for the fair.’ Manak is shocked as Guleri is going to the fair as well.
‘Bhavani’s words pierced through Manak’s heart like a needle.’ Manak was left miserable in the memories of his lover.
The next day, while Manak was working in fields, Bhavani appeared again. ‘Guleri is dead.’ Bhavani was telling him as Guleri heard the news that her husband was planning to marry another wife. ‘She soaked her clothes in Kerosene and set fire to them.’ Manak entered a state of shock. He couldn’t live with himself, ‘he was like a dead man.’ His new wife became pregnant with his child, although she complains that ‘I am not his wife… I’m just someone he happened to marry.’
His mother was ‘pleased with her new daughter-in-law,’ also Manak would make a recovery after the child’s birth. But after the birth of his son he remained dull. After his mother bathed the child, ‘dressed him in fine clothes and put him in Manak’s lap,’ Manak remained dead in the heart due to the guilt. He began to scream as the baby was placed on his lap. ‘Take him away! He stinks of kerosene.’

From the story we see the custom of India, which is portrayed as prejudiced towards women. The women were rejected if they were unable to have children and just perceived as objects. The woman were just objects who produced children and that is it. The mother of Manak was pleased but Manak was totally opposite. This shows how much the mother cares for their son. It is about the self-interests, as the mother would love to be a grandmother, who will enjoy her time with a new born. But that had ruined the life of her son. Manak had loved Guleri; by him accepting his mother’s wishes the guilt stays with him. The writer Amrita Pritam would be a feminist showing the state of women who are over powered by men. The Indian culture of Sati, which is widow burning is a common custom. Guleri could only see her family once in a year, although the village Chamba was just a few miles away.

Source: uk.answers.yahoo.com › ... › Education & ReferenceHomework Help-27.04.2013
D.N. Aloysius

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