Beyond the Glitz
Women are said to be the most subjugated creature in the world. It is an undeniable reality that the subjugation of women has nothing to do with the economic background of a person. A woman is considered an unequal part in all strata of the society. Bindu Dalmia’s The Diary of a Lutyen’s Princess is a hard-hitting account of a woman’s journey in the palatial backdrop of Lutyen’s Delhi, also known as “the rich man’s abode”. Dalmia has focused extensively on a woman’s survival in a discriminated society and the dark portrayal of an oasis of luxury but unfortunately devoid of humanity.
The author relives her journey full of “mild tumults” through her protagonist, Akshara. The story begins in Calcutta in a bureaucrat’s house where Akshara the convent-goer complains to her elder sister for dressing her up in a very antiquated way while all her friends were pretty much in sync with the latest fashion trend. This young nymphet was deeply in love with a guy called Arnaab, who was then a struggling executive with Hindustan Unilever. Akshara soon moved to Delhi to complete her graduation from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University and this was also stated as a major excuse to stay close to her boyfriend Arnaab, whom she had imagined to be her husband.
Being from an influential family with traditional values, Akshara had to toil hard to get her family to accept Arnaab as their son-in-law. Another major reason which bothered her family was that Arnaab was a Bengali, who belonged to a middle-class family and they were Punjabis with a much high economical background as compared to them. Akshara was adamant about her decision to get married to Arnaab and hence turned a deaf ear to all the tantrums and premonitions suggested by her parents.
As feared by the parents, the marriage ended on a bitter note. Arnaab and Akshara decided to part ways after their only son, Vishal was born. From there started the intrepid journey of Akshara, from the city of joy to the infectious city of power: New Delhi. Her quest for a new life began with her quest for a job and soon her career kick-started with HCL, then a start-up being headed by Shiv Nadar.
During one such business unions, the cupid’s arrow struck again and she met her soon to be husband- Surya Prakash Mittal, the scion of the influential and the renowned Mittal Family, who were the great players in the market at that time. Soon Akshara became the unaccepted daughter-in-law of the Mittal family. Whose pre-marriage catastrophe in Mykonos, where she was left stranded in her wedding attire because the family had threatened to cause great ills to Surya if the marriage took place. Surya terrified with the premonitions of getting married to Akshara asks her to drop the idea of getting married right at the final hour but Akshara in order to save her honour in front all the guests requests him to fake the marriage hence ending up being a ‘half-wife’ as she painfully terms it.
Akshara and Surya had a roller- coaster married life. She was slowly succumbing to the patriarchal dominance. In spite of her repeated requests to Surya to join the family business, her plea was warded off every time. She was demeaned to a level that was difficult for even her to fathom. Her tenure in the princely Lutyens was no different than a ‘pricey slave’, where she had to forcefully be a part of the gatherings she detested the most. Her dreams were subdued; the bling from the glamour world blinded her, and her husband was too busy cracking up hefty business deals. His indifference towards her desires and expectations became a precursor to the approaching cusp of their bond.
Akshara walked out of the 22-year-old marriage, that had all the luxuries, all the worldly pleasures but still lacked the desired amount of freedom. The creative freedom of being independent and the only wish to shed off the ‘home-maker’ status that the marriage had got her.
Dalmia has broken all the myths surrounding the life of a high-profile person, it has been said that “money is addictive” and those who possess it in large scale find it too difficult to live without it but through Akshara, she has portrayed an image of a self-respecting woman. She lays bare the hard-hitting reality of today’s Indian society, which still has its barriers of class, caste, gender in spite of being in a well-to-do position.
The book is a treat for all the women aspiring to become self-sufficient in life. Deeply altering the rules of feminism and urged the women of the world to realise their worth and put an end to any kind of force that is barring them from fulfilling their dreams.