Marriage is a magnificent relationship. It is a process of unification of two different souls brought up in two different atmospheres. Here we should note the word “different atmosphere”. This is the reason why the couples face so many problems. But this alone is not the reason for the complications. Deshpande’s novel “the dark holds no terror casts lights on various factors that contributes to these sorts of marital mess.
Sarita, the Protagonist of the novel was influenced by many social factors that lead to her unhealthy relationship with her husband thereby causing a terrible marital mess. All that begins well sometimes ends in misery. The first and foremost factor that our protagonist face in our novel is that a “childhood impact”.
The way in which we are brought up plays a very vital role in determining our character and personality in fact our future too. So as for as this idea is concerned, Sarita has faced many torments during her childhood days. She had a brother named Dhruva whom she hated the most. It’s because she thought that he enjoyed all the love of her parents. The same hatred is seen in her daughter Renu too. And this shocks her to the extreme. This is revealed in sarita’s statement;
“…do we travel, not in straight lines, but in circles? Do we come to the same point again and again? Dhruva and I, Renu and Abhi….is life an endless repetition of the same pattern?”(Deshpande p.no173)
So whenever sarita tries to forget the past, and relish the present, the very behavior of Renu with Abhi reminds her of how cruel she had been to that innocent Dhruva. She says;
“Abhi. I chose the name myself. And yet, so often the tongue slips and I call him Dhruva” (Deshpande p.no 34).
She got pleasure out of his pains. If Dhruva cried it was really an ecstatic moment for sarita. Indeed she was the one who inflicted pain on him. She says;
“No dictatorship could have been more absolute” (Deshpande p.no 35).
Her Kid brother Dhruva was no more. He was drowned in a muddy pit and died when he was seven. She was nine then. Everyone including her mother thought that she was the reason for Dhruva’s death. Actually she wasn’t the reason for that. But the anger and envious feel that she had towards him made others think like that. From then she was deprived of her mother’s love once for all. Her mother’s anger towards her is revealed in the below statement,
“You killed him. Why didn’t you die? Why are you alive, when he’s dead?”(Deshpande p.no 191).
From the novel we come to know that after the death of Dhruva, the family lost its liveliness. Sarita’s mother and father lived just for the sake of living. Even before the death of Dhruva she hated her mother for being too attached to Dhruva. And now the hatred is doubled as she blames her for the thing that she had never committed.
“Why do you all accuse me of something I never did?” (Deshpande p.no 181).
The hatred that she had towards her mother prevented her from showing and receiving love from her. She was like a dry land seeking for water. She longed for love. Her dad was busy in carrying out his own duties whereas her mother whose only refuge of all time is the kitchen. And Sarita was forever alone and abandoned as long as she was with her parents. This hurted her a lot. She was badly in need of love.
“We were like three points of a triangle, eternally linked, forever separate” (Deshpande p.no 141).
Her need for love was satisfied by her husband Manohar.She fondly calls him Manu. She thought marrying him would solve all her problems and she eloped and married him with the hope that at least she would find love then after. But she had dreadful nightmares which threatened her in which the dead Dhruva questions her why she hadn’t come to his rescue leaving her peace less and sleepless for many months and years. This is evident from her saying;
“And every night he comes and accuses me.Yes, Dhruva. He looks at me as if I killed him” (Deshpande p.no 181).
Also sarita acknowledges that her father was pusillanimous. He had opposed his wife only one time. That too for the sake of her educational purposes.so sarita was afraid whether her children also when grown up would join with their father and rebel against her. She says;
“Will Renu turning mocking eyes on me one day? Will Abhi defy me? Will they betray me as I betrayed her?”(Deshpande 139).
So these are the two threats that came to her in her present life.ofcourse they traces their way back to her bitter childhood days. This is how her childhood impacted her current peaceful stay with her husband and children.
Desire is a basic instinct in every human being. We desire everything to be in its best. But when things goes wrong we should have the, mental maturity to set things right. When we lack that, we try to blame others for our unsatisfied Desires. Indeed we try to inflict pain and torment upon others.
Here in our novel too, we have a person with this problem. He is Manohar, husband of sarita, who is the protagonist of the novel. He loves sarita as she loves him. He was a college teacher and she was a doctor.so definitely her salary is much higher than his. This strikes Manohar badly. But, He conceals that very well and pretends to be good husband.
But there happened an incident where an interviewer questions him like this; and there starts the problem.
“How does it feel when your wife earns not only the butter but the bread as well?”(Deshpande 35).
This very question infuriated him to a greater extent. From then he started inflicting a sexual harassment on his wife sarita. According to him he wasn’t able to dominate her economically so he dominated, indeed oppressed her in their bed. Sarita says;
“He attacked me like an animal that night. I was sleeping and I woke up and there was this…this man hurting me.With his hands, his teeth, his whole body” (Deshpande 201).
This happened not only that night but was repeated again and again. Sarita was disappointed with this cruel act of her husband. She had really a good status as a doctor in the society.so she felt that she was undeserved to face such an indecent abuse from her husband. She says;
“Yes, again and again and again and yet again. I ‘ve lost count” (Deshpande 201).
Sarita wasn’t able to bear this terrible one. She dread what if their children came to know about this .They would ultimately lose the reverence and love that they have for her. This can be understood from her very own statement;
“Thinking of how she could do nothing against his maniac strength. Of her panic that made her incapable of resisting. Of the children in the next room who pinioned her to a terrified silence” (Deshpande 99).
Also another thing is that Manohar had a strong passion towards journalism and script writing. He thought of achieving a greater levels in that. But sarita firmly opposed that. To meet the financial needs of the family she asked him to become a college teacher. She was also pregnant then.so she used that as a weapon to shatter his dreams.
“…with cold –blooded calculation, used her strongest weapon. She had made use of Renu even before she was born….It had truly seemed a dead end to her then…his writing, journalism, the amateur theatre”(Deshpande 153).
So with pain he sacrificed his desires and dreams for sake of the well-being of family. He was forced by sarita to do that. He was trapped by sarita. So this why he had trapped her in bed. Manohar failed to understand that marriage and love are interconnected. He was not mentally matured to understand that marriage is a mutually sacrificial commitment.
To him she was the one who stood as a barrier to his dreams. And so he revenged her in his own way. He didn’t beat her nor scold. But abused her sexually which was indeed a mental torture. This was yet another reason why they had face an unpleasant marital life.
t he would say. Would he apologise? Or explain? Would he look guilty and shamefaced? But when I went out, there was nothing. He said, as if it was just any day,” Morning, Saru, slept well? “(Deshpande p.no 202)
The cruelty of Manohar not stopped at one night itself, he sexually tortured her wife every night. But in the morning he acted like a usual loving husband. There is no ability for Manohar to show his domination by earning so he show his male domination through sex. This shows that how cheaply Manohar behaves to her wife. Male domination changes the heart of love into the heart of hatred.
“Yes, again and again and again and yet again. I’ve last count. “(Deshpande p.no 201)
During her husband’s cruel act Sarita never want to stand against her husband. She never tried to question with her husband boldly about his cruel act. She just lived like a typical Indian wife who never stand against their husband’s will. She never took any steps to solve their problem by communicating with her husband rather she was scared of him and ran away from house and went to her mother’s house.
“Everything in a girl’s life, it seemed, was shaped to the single purpose of pleasing a male. But what did you do when you failed to please? There was no answer to that. At least no one had given her an answer so far.” (Deshpande p.no 163).
Here at this point of time she realizes his domination. She gives a second thought to her problems and understood that she was suppressed these long days. She was determinant to manage her own identity as well as her family. She says;
“If I cast no shadow, I do not exist” (Deshpande p.no159).
Lack of communication:
Any relationship for that matter, communication is a vital one. If there is no proper communication there would be misinterpretations which would ultimately end in terrible consequences. So it is better to maintain a good communication especially when it comes to a marital relationship. Marriage is a lifelong bond. The couples are ought to speak out things. There shouldn’t be any secrets between them so that there would no commotion at all.
But as far as our novel is concerned there is no communication between our couples at all. We could compare two couples.one is sarita’s mom and dad and the other is sarita and Manohar. The former is an arranged marriage and the latter is a love marriage. But to our astonishment the latter suffers a serious lack of communication which serves root cause for all other problems.
Sarita deprives herself from speaking out her heart with her husband. If she had talked, she would have drawn out conclusions much earlier. But she miserably failed to do that. This is evident from her saying;
“And yet you said nothing. You were silent…..how could I?” (Deshpande p.no203).
Also we could understand that that there is no proper communication between sarita’s mom and dad too. They too just lived life just like that. This is evident from sarita’s father saying;
“I often feel sorry that we left so many things unsaid; your mother and I….Silence had become a habit for us” (Deshpande p.no 199).
The whole novel portrays the typical Indian families. Indeed the relationship between a husband and wife. Their love heart to heart talk stays only for the few months of their marriage. And after that they are mechanized. Husbands just see their wife as a servant and wives treats their husbands as money making machines. As this typical scenario fails to turn out as usual there arises cracks in the relationships.