Impressions of The Agonised Women in Padma Sachdev’s “Caretaker”
Keywords:Agony, Dohri, Home, Reconciliation.
Regional short stories in translation have always been a pasture of research in the field of English literature. It opens a vista of information, debate and discussion on the cultural and social crisis faced by the people lying hidden in the smaller pockets of our country. Jammu region is embedded with a rich heritage of Dogri language with an idiosyncratic regional flavour of its folk-tales and short-stories. Translation of Dogri works into other languages has helped the readers in the country and across borders, to peruse the social and cultural milieu of Jammu region. This paper critically examines the Dogri short story “Caretaker” by Padma Sachdev which reveals the agony, insecurities and position of Dogra women in the male-dominated society.
In the earlier Dogra society, women suffered at the hands of complex socialâ€‘cultural norms, rituals and patriarchal models of suppression. They were often forced into illâ€‘matched marriages and dohri (reciprocal marriages). Further, they were expected to become obedient wives to their husbands while their own identity got submerged under the burden of family responsibilities, catering to husband needs and rearing children. They often longed for a “home” of their own blessed with love and respect. However, the marital home failed to provide them this blessed home and the parental home became alien to them after marriage. The relationship between husband and wife seems like that of an orient and the occident as man becomes the agent of power, domination and male-centric prejudices against woman. On the other hand, woman acts as an orient who suffers from the societal prejudices for misinterpreted identity and enslavement for her social-cultural representation. As Simone de Beauvoir in her book, The Second Sex analyzes that man fundamentally tries to oppress women by characterizing them as the ‘Other’. Men impose his will on the other and women are cursed with the feelings of inwardness and suppressed voices. “[Man] attaches himself to woman â€“not to enjoy her, but to enjoy himself.” Hence, Padma Sachdev tries to echo a critical view of the patriarchal social institutions, which subjugate women’s identity for the gains of male supremacy. She also focuses on an unsaid bonding between women as they can sense the misery of each other. They may get corrupted by the feeling of insecurity at some point of time but soon they reconcile as they realise the pain of the other.
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