“We are individualistic, we are lonely.”
A Patchwork Family by Mukta Sathe is a social commentary, an in-depth analysis of patriarchy and social prejudice, but mostly of how it is ingrained in our psyche. The story has been narrated by Janaki and Ajoba, two people brought together by crisis and a mutual understanding of each other’s decisions.
Janaki, shy and resilient, witnesses the brutal rape and murder of her best friend and chooses to stand up for her and seek justice despite the threats she receives and the family she is set to lose.
Ajoba, Janaki’s grandfather’s dear friend and her closest confidante stands with her through a storm that will blow everything she holds dear.
Janaki is an idealist and questions the patriarchy every chance she gets. Through her, Sathe gives us glimpses of a society that is utterly selfish and unyielding. The author’s mockery of the social and judicial system will remind of multiple events, both in the movies and in real life, making it a very agreeable story (unless you choose to live in a bubble).
She breaks down a complex scenario for us to understand through simple and unbiased prose. The rape situation is presented and handled realistically and so is the double standard that is deeply rooted in our society. Not just the big and grave events, but every small incident in the lives of these characters is scrutinized and told in an impassive tone, without missing the point.
“In our society, men believe that they have the moral right to give orders and it is inconceivable for them that a woman might dare to say no.”
‘A Patchwork Family’ is ridicule to everything that is currently wrong with the system and society- men privileged enough to think that it’s easy to rape and take a life, families realizing the horridness of a situation only when the crisis is at their doorstep and the distorted concept of actions without consequences. But it is also a tale of companionship, support, and trust that doesn’t always come from one’s own family and this ‘Patchwork Family’ of Janavi and Ajoba are facing all odds through sheer will and strength derived from each other.
Blurb (as on Goodreads):
Young and idealistic, Janaki is eager to serve the cause of justice as a lawyer. Her only confidant is Ajoba, an elderly friend of her grandfather’s, who supported her throughout her childhood. They are unrelated by blood or marriage ties, but they have both lost their own families. So together, they struggle to create a family, patched together perhaps, but stronger for it.
As this gripping novel unfolds, the two characters, in turn, tell the traumatic story of how they came together: how Janaki being the eyewitness to a gruesome crime led to years of court cases and police investigations; the toll it took on the members of her immediate family; the ways in which Ajoba and Janaki each overcome their immediate prejudices to connect with each other; and the impact of the judicial system’s vagaries on each of their worldviews.
Written in spare, unadorned and confident prose, A Patchwork Family is a debut novel of unusual wisdom and maturity.
*Thank you to the publisher for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own*