2 States: The Story of My Marriage : A Tale of Young India
Dr. Tribhuwan Kumar
Assistant Professor of English
Dept of English & Foreign Languages
SRM University, NCR Campus
Modinagar, Ghaziabad, U.P. – 201204
Ars Artium: A Peer Reviewed-cum-Refereed International Journal of Humanities and
Chetan Bhagat is an Indian author, columnist, and motivational speaker. He is the author of five bestselling novels novels – Five Point Someone (2004), One Night @ the Call Center (2005), The 3 Mistakes of My Life (2008), 2 States (2009) and Revolution 2020 (2011). All five books have remained bestsellers since their release and two have inspired Bollywood films. Bhagat’s debut novel Five Point Someone which has been adapted into the 2008 blockbuster bollywood movie Three Idiots has established his fame as an author of international repute. He got the Indo-American Society’s the Society Young Achiever’s Award in 2004 and the Publisher’s Recognition Award in 2005. The New York Times called Bhagat ‘the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history’ (http: //www. nytimes.com /2008/03/26/books/ 26 bhagat.html?_r=1). The famous Time Magazine has counted him in the ‘100 Most Influential People in the world (http://www.time. com/time/ specials/packages/complete list/0,29569,1984685,00. html) and Fast Company, USA has listed him as one of the world’s ‘100 most creative people in business’(http://www.fastcompany.com/most-creative –people /2011/chetan- bhagat-writer).
2 States: The Story of My Marriage is the fourth novel of Chetan Bhagat. The novel is about an IIMA couple’s struggle to marry over the cultural differences. It’s a story of an inter-state marriage in India; a Love story of a Punjabi boy Krish, and a Tamil Brahmin girl Ananya and marriage of paranthas and idlis, paneer and coconut. Krish and Ananya, the main protagonists, are lovers but contrary to the usual practice they do not elope. They, instead, choose to convince their parents to approve of their tying the nuptial knot. This book also dwells upon an age-old North India versus South India conflict.
2 States: The Story of My Marriage is an autographical novel. It is considered to be inspired from the real story of the author and his wife Anusha who belong to Delhi and Tamil Nadu respectively. The novel presents a vivid picture of the IIM Ahmedabad life. It is basically moves around two IIMA students Krish and Ananya. This couple cue from two different states in India and thus they face hardships in convincing their parents for the acceptance of their marriage. Generation gap, communication gap and cultural gap – all are thus amalgamated brilliantly. The story begins in the IIM Ahmedabad mess, where Krish, a Punjabi boy from Delhi sights Ananya, a Tamilian girl from Chennai, quarreling with the mess staff about the food. They become friends in a few days and decide to study together every night. In time they become romantically involved with each other. After finishing their course both of them get good jobs, and have serious plans for their wedding. The story is based on how they struggle to convince their parents for the marriage, and eventually succeed in doing so. It is narrated in a first person point of view in a humorous tone, often taking digs at Tamilian and Punjabi culture. The novel ends with Ananya giving birth to twin boys. They say that the babies belong to a state called ‘India’. Inter-caste marriages are still a taboo in India and let alone an inter-state marriage of a Punjabi and a Tam Brahmin.
This novel is excellent because it conveys how youngistan fights oldistan to get the approval for marriage. The boy tries to get acceptance from the girl’s family and the girl tires to get acceptance from the boy’s family while both of them are trying to get acceptance from their respective families. The story closes with Krish’s marriage with Ananya, where he is able to unite the two cultures of the two states together. The Punjabis and the Tamils dance around the couple and according to Krish it is the attainment of the greater purpose for which he decided to convert his love into an arranged marriage: “Only for the sake of uniting the nation” (Bhagat, 2 States 267). It is the voice of the millions if youths who fall in love with somebody and want to marry but fail mostly due to this socio-cultural disparity.
In the author’s view, the next issue that attracts the attention of the reader is the exploitation of students and teacher relationship, students and parents relationship and youth life in colleges and universities. Chetan Bhagat’s campus novel 2 States represents the voices the youth of emerging India. Through this medium he tries to bridge the gap between the young generation and the old generation. It begins with the academic life of the main characters of the novel, Krish and Ananya, in IIM Ahmedabad. It represents the voices of the youth pursuing education in the Indian Institute of Management. It mentions how intelligence outwits beauty in the IIM common admission test – CAT. Bhagat writes about the selected students of the institute in general and the girl students in particular that the students in IIM get admission because they can solve mathematics faster than 99.9% of India’s population:
…girls don’t get selected to IIM for their looks. They get in because they can solve mathematical problems faster than 99.9% of India’s population and crack the CAT (Bhagat, 2 States 3).
Bhagat is not a critic. He only sees things in the way they appear. And this gives his writing a natural touch. In the recent times when the entire country is uniting India against corruption Ananya represents the voices of the youth who dare to speak what is right and what is not. . She finds the food served to the students unfit and unwell. She supports the idea of complaint against the mess worker. She hopes if it is complained against him the quality may improve. She dares say, “And that is why you don’t improve. Maybe they should complain” (Bhagat, 2 States 4). But Krish is the one who accepts things blindly and knowingly. Krish knows that the food is tasteless but he does not complain against it. He fears the glare of the mess worker. He does not want to be called a freak by complaining the food. He simply follows: ‘Live and let live’.
Ananya represents the voices of the modern youth who believe in the complete freedom of the fair-sex. She believes in the equality of men and women. She knows her rights and does what she wants. She likes to wear shorts and smoke cigarettes. She does not care the criticism of others and their feelings. She only cares for what she likes. She does not like people patronizing her. She thinks modern women are intelligent people and intelligent people do not like to be instructed unnecessarily. Ananya shares her opinion with Krish in a conversation with him. Krish reads a topic from the marketing case, ‘Nirdosh – nicotine-free cigarettes’. And the very name of cigarette makes Ananya feel like a real smoke. She responds, “Who the fuck wants that? I feel like a real smoke (Bhagat, 2 States 19).” Krish gives Ananya a dirty look which makes the latter react, “What? Am I not allowed to use F words? Or is it that I expressed a desire to smoke?” (Bhagat, 2 States 20) Krish wants to know what she wants to prove by showing her over-smartness. And this makes Ananya consider him that male should know that women are intelligent people and they know what they should do and what they should not:
Nothing. I want you to consider the possibility that women are intelligent human beings. And intelligent people don’t like to be told what to wear or do, especially when they are adults. Does that make sense to you? (Bhagat, 2 States 20)
Bhagat does not forget to reiterate his most common theme of his stories i.e. premarital sex between friends. Besides focusing on the campus activities and relations among the students, he points his finger very tenderly and affectionately on the topic of sex. And in his this favorite topic he prefers his heroine to take the initiative. Like other lady characters of his novels Ananya dares to kiss her lover Krish in his room. And thereafter they make a premarital love in the girls’ dormitory. However Bhagat makes the situations and the boring books responsible for that, it is true without doubt that he wants to give voice to the needs of the modern youth who do not believe in the traditional beliefs about virginity and chastity but only know their physical needs for love and affections. Krish explains:
Needless to say, one thing led to another and within two weeks we had sex. You put a boy and a girl in a room for a week and add lots of boring books, and sparks are sure to fly (Bhagat, 2 States 26).
Bhagat has exposed the lacking security system of the IIMA dormitory disciplines. The freedom of students to visit each other’s dormitories that Bhagat has expressed in the book might raise a question whether it is safe to put one’s ward in the IIMA hostel. Whatever maturity the youth have attained but the Indian parents are still much concerned with the virginity of their children mostly girls. But according to Bhagat, girls and boys in the IIMA hostel are free to visit each other’s dormitories even at night and there is no objection spending nights together in each other’s rooms – particularly girls’ rooms.
Bhagat has a very keen mind to criticize the common follies of the country. In this novel Bhagat has very beautifully presented the Indian folly called Dowry. He means to state that dowry is “a resident evil” in the North India (http://www.residentevil-movie.com/site/). Krish’s mother wants to cash him in gold and other gifts coming with the bride. It is this reason, perhaps, that she does not approve love marriage and the love of her son Krish and his beloved Ananya.
Bhagat in his novels does not only point his fingers at the social issues but also he does not spare the common problems the country is facing. In 2 States he reveals a fact about the Indian Police that everything is possible in India only if the wrong-doer has money in his hands. Krish kisses Ananya at the famous Marina Beach and is caught by the police but he is able to handle him only in fifty rupees. It is a kind of ‘money solves all the problems’ in India. The constable shouts at Krish and grabs his arm with anger but when Krish pays him off everything gets over. Krish remembers,
I took out a fifty. He looked at me and Ananya. ‘Warning,’ the cop said as he took the note (Bhagat, 2 States 98).
In another instance Bhagat is amazed to see that money relaxes almost all the rules in the country. Krish goes to a government-approved liquor shop to buy wine where the rule is not to sell the wine to person who is less than twenty-five. But Krish manages it by paying merely ten rupees extra per bottle. People say that people of the South are very fair dealers. They obey rules and regulations very strictly but the way Krish finds it, it seems they observe the regulations strictly only to get extra bucks from the users. After ten rupees extra per bottle when Krish gets the wine bottles he observes:
It is amazing how money relaxes rules around the country (Bhagat, 2 States 99).
Krish is a patriotic youth. He thinks through an Indians eye and believes in the unity and integrity of the country. He disapproves Indians feeling different and discriminating each other on account of culture, region and language. He wants to marry an intra-state and intra-culture girl from Tamilnadu with a great purpose – to unite the country. He calls the various types of diversities and discriminations of the country stupid and wants his countrymen to end them to be Indians first:
…these stupid biases and discrimination are the reason our country is so screwed up. it’s Tamil first, Indian later. Punjabi first, Indian later. It has to end…. National anthem, national currency, national team – still, we won’t marry our children outside our state. How can this intolerance be good for our country? (Bhagat, 2 States 102)
Krish has a unique way to unite India. He suggests the youth of the country to marry outside their state because, he thinks, it is the only way India can be made one. He wants his children not to belong to any particular state but the whole country. About his kids he says that they will neither be Punjabis nor Tamils but they will be only Indians:
– they won’t be Tamil or Punjabi. They will be Indian. They will be above all this nonsense. If all young people marry outside their community, it is good for the country (Bhagat, 2 States 103).
Bhagat’s fourth novel 2 States is more anecdotal than fictional. In this novel he recollects his falling in love with his then beloved and now wife Anuskha. Through his personal story he wants to generalise the issues concerning social and economic barriers in the way of marriage. Marriage is a very pious ceremony in India. It is treated and organized with preferred priority in all the states of the country. Through Krish, Bhagat represents the voices of the youth who do not believe in social or economic disparities. India is one. It should not be divided by more than political boundaries. All the people of the country should be free to settle a business, do a job or marry in any part of the country and there should not be any restriction in this regard. But due to social customs and caste discriminations marriage outside the boundary is a far cry. People in the same country feel like foreigners. In this novel Bhagat beautifully deprecates the social and linguistic differences in the people belonging to different states and also their discrimination on the basis of their colour, face, language and styles.
• Bhagat, Chetan. 2 States – the Story of My Marriage. Rupa & Co. New Delhi. 2009.
• http: //www. nytimes.com /2008/03/26/books/ 26 bhagat.html?_r=1
• http://www.time. com/time/ specials/packages/complete list/0,29569,1984685,00. Html
• http://www.fastcompany.com/most-creative –people /2011/chetan- bhagat-writer