Book Review: The company of women – Khushwant Singh. by Bhabana Pathak
What our eminent author Khushwant Singh has tried portraying through this blunt and stereotypic sexual comedy is the picture of an Indian male, and the relationship with his counterpart women which is basically sexual here. The protagonist is Mohan who being a gifted academic, completes his graduation abroad (U. S) and after rejecting many lucrative offers comes back to India, where his aged father awaited him. Mr. Singh, in a very humorous tone, has depicted the auctioning in an Indian marriage. Even through humour, he is adept in connecting us with the ongoing issues of the Indian society. Mohan does settle down with a handsome dowry and on a sad note, a cranky, jealous and mediocre wife. His marital bliss had its short comings which eventually ended up with a divorce, his loyalty being the best plausible cause.
The story proceeds as Mohan, in an attempt to overcome loneliness, starts having contractual trysts with women, which included an English professor Sarojini Bharadwaj, Molly Gomez,a masseur and Susanthika, a Sri Lankan Diplomat. He being a very young millionaire gives in to lust and then to love, exotically and unnervingly.
The projection of Mohan might seem excessively obscene at times but on a serious note, through some light fencing, the role which he played of a loving son was noteworthy. After the demise of his father, throughout his life till the end he kept going back to Haridwar as a part of his promise to his father and stayed at his father’s room.
Its the story of his “commendable” life where he literally “ate, laughed and made merry”. Mohan was never faithful as a married man. His promiscuity could be derived from his varied relationships with his house maid and his baby’s nurse. His never ending endeavors with a fair set of women, pre and post his marriage stand as vivid examples to this tale. All his life he had a lustful relationship with various women but Susanthika was his last one, she dumping him for the States. His character showed signs of nursing a broken until his infliction with the disease. The story is gripping with funny narrations in uncertain situations. Its erotic as well as engrossing. The author has done full justice depicting the playfulness of Mohan. Also the end do sends a moral to men who portray such promiscuity, Mohan ending up as an AIDS victim. Somewhere it’s an image of what we see around. From lusting after one’s maid to paying for it, this is harsh. And hence, a justice to the title, Mohan’s life in “The company of women”.
A word about the author – he is a brilliant storyteller. Mr. Khushwant Singh has done a wonderful job through this story, he is best in his humor. We don’t usually find writers of his genre in Indian literature.
I practically soaked up all the humor filled emotions throughout the book. The characters are very real and relevant. Its modern day India indeed, no place else would a man go for his maid (jokes apart!). Mohan, was looking for love, let it be physical to his best concern. Also the social message will be an eye opener to people.
To all the people who want to have a good laugh and are ADULTS, you can try this book.
P. S. – girls might want to flinch once after reading it. 🙂
Review by Bhabana Pathak, Guwahati
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