Dr. Saurabh Mishra*
Widely acclaimed for its innate sensibility of human affairs- Manju Kapur’s ‘Difficult Daughters’ presents a saga which successfully treads through the complex terrain of family, society and relationships. The novel is fashioned against the backdrop of political turmoil and partition. It subtly conjoins the undercurrent of partition and change to the metamorphosis of the lead character- Virmati. Braving through the tempestuous sea of human emotions the story line is lent with concreteness through the meticulous articulation and development of various supporting characters. In the novel the readers are given a glimpse of situational affairs which play upon the mind of female characters and shape their responses. Manju Kapur has also been successful in shaping clearly the difference which the women face in the society; as expressed in words of Allan and Barbara-“All things are not equal; men and women are different… Not better or worse-different” (Allan & Barbara 2001).
Conducting an audit of the cover title-‘Difficult Daughters’, we can sense these conflicting emotions/suggestions inscribed within the novel. Wherein the female characters are seen dwindling between- the doldrums of being entrenched in patriarchal hegemony and willingness to accept and adorn the change of being a modern independent woman. We do see a difficult son (Somnath), who is not tagged so; instead accepted due to patriarchal set up. But daughters are difficult! Since their opting for change is unusual and unacceptable as per the norms. Females are plagued with limits of the system they cannot perceive change- as the French existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir states-“In actuality…for man represents the both positive and the neutral…whereas woman represents only negative, defined by limiting criteria” (De Beauvoir 1984).