Saturday, September 3, 2022

Mansi Choksi's "The Newlyweds"

Mansi Choksi is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and two-time Livingston Award Finalist. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, National Geographic, The Atlantic, and more. She lives in Dubai with her husband and son.

Choksi applied the Page 99 Test to her new book, The Newlyweds: Rearranging Marriage in Modern India, and reported the following:
From page 99:
Dawinder pressed his wrists into his eyes to stop the tears from falling out. “We are dirty children,” Neetu said mournfully as she rested her head on his shoulder.

When Neetu and Dawinder started to pack their bags, Sachdev hovered around them. He said he had become so attached to them that he could no longer do without them. Couldn’t they stay a little bit longer for the sake of their old Baba? He reminded them about the couples who had left the shelter to be with their families, only to become victims of honor killings.

“Please understand, children, it is not safe,” he said. “Why do you want to go and get killed?”
The Test works. Page 99 of The Newlyweds cuts straight to the heart of the theme that defines this book.

In the book, I write that the pursuit of love and its aftermath is ultimately a kind of displacement. Years after the three couples in this book defy their families to be together, they continue to long for their acceptance.

Some of us are raised to think of romantic love as a corruptible force or a subversion of Indian values. Some of us think of romantic love as a great adventure against the tyranny of tradition. In India, the idea of modernity is a moving frontline between the anarchy of freedom and the peaceful order of tradition, and in my opinion, nowhere is this crisis of meaning deeper than in the choices young people make about who to love. My hope for readers is to leave with the understanding that in the end, we make our calculations between tradition and rebellion and arrive at our own truths about Indian modernity.
Visit Mansi Choksi's website.

--Marshal Zeringue