When I picked up this book, I was hoping for something similar to “The World Of Nagaraj”, by R. K. Narayan that I had read sometime back. Even though this book “The Dark Room” is also set in the town of Malgudi, it is quite different from the previous one. In this book, the author has actually tried to highlight the nature of family that lived during those times. Maybe in some ways that nature of families still continues.
This story is about Savitri who is a submissive housewife living with her husband and three children. Her husband neglects her and bosses over her on everything and most of the times she silently suffers. Sometimes when she is unable to bear it, she goes to “The Dark Room” in the house to sulk. When her husband starts an affair with colleague in office, she fights back and leaves house and tries to kill herself. She is rescued and after some twists and turns she finally returns back to the same house.
The idea of “The Dark Room” is present in Indian mythology as well where woman of the house will retire to this room when they are sulking or they want to demand something specific from their husband. In this case, though it does not work well for Savitri. The book is written in very simple style which is typical of Narayan and with lot of details. I found the description of Savitri and her children’s understanding of their father’s mood and behavior really interesting. They start to guess what is going to happen from the way he honks as he returns from his office. It is a good book to read but in the end it leaves you sad for Savitri.