Custody by Manju Kapur


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My aunt’s friend passed her this book. As both are fans of Korean dramas, I can see why the friend thought my aunt would like it. Instead, my aunt passed me the book. And guessed what? It really reads like a Korean drama script, except that this is set in Delhi, India, which goes to show how similar and universal Asian cultures are – interfering parents, competition for schools, the importance of heir and the stigma of divorce.

Ramen is the pride of his parents. He works in a multinational, marketing soft drinks, has a beautiful fair and green-eyed wife, Shagun(I picture her as Aishwarya Rai), an equally beautiful son who looks like his mother and a daughter who looks like him.

Once on a campaign, Shagun was spotted by Ramen’s company and invited to be cast as a model in a commercial. She meets Ramen boss, Ashok, an American Indian and they start an affair. It is easy as Ramen is often travelling around India. Shagun decides to leave Ramen and agrees to give up custody of the children if granted a divorce. She plots to get their son Arjun to be transferred to Ashok’s alma mata, a boarding school. Ramen is devastated by the break up of his family, and suffers a heart attack. Luckily, he recovers well due to his parents’ support.

Ramen’s parents has a neighbour whose daughter also got divorced as she is infertile. The two sets of parents decide to bring the couple, Ramen and Ishita together. Ishita falls in  love with Ramen’s daughter Roohi and thus they wed.

Shagun who has since moved to US with Ashok as the scandal affected Ashok’s career. She gets the kids during the holidays, much to Ishita’s anguish. Ishita is afraid that Shagun will influence Roohi, like how she does to Arjun.

The story spans a few years, starting from 1999. We get a taste of history as the millennium looms when everyone gets anxious about the millennium Y2K bug. As Shagun fights to see Roohi, and Ramen tries to engage his teenage son Arjun, all with the background of India’s big earthquake in 2001 and September 11.

Fighting for custody of children is always dirty when each parent pits the child against the other. Hence, there isn’t any likable character in the book that one can sympathize with. Ramen appears too weak, Shagun too heartless, Ishita too insecure. This aside, the book offers a peak into this unique drama in India, which is exactly why this Korean drama fan enjoy.

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About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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