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Bonsai Kitten
Author: Lakshmi Narayan

Publisher: Leadstart Publishing
ISBN: 9789381576298
Pages: 296
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Bonsai Kitten, published in 2012, revolves around a Tamil Brahmin woman named Divya. Her family is keen to get her married, and are willing to make a cash settlement with the groom’s family to compensate for her dusky complexion. Bonsai Kitten takes an in-depth look into the stereotypes, prejudices, and conservative mindsets that exist in Indian societies. Ramesh Swaminathan, an engineer with an MBA, is finally chosen as Divya’s husband.

After the wedding, Divya ends up travelling from Delhi to Mumbai to Singapore, with her husband. She spends hours making authentic Tamil dishes, while Ramesh naps. In this unfamiliar country, the protagonist’s dreams, interests, and personality are crushed by her spouse, who does not pay her any attention. As she gets restructured in order to fit into the role of a meek and obedient wife, Divya realizes that she is like a bonsai kitten. She compares young Indian brides, including her own self, to clay, and says that society reshapes them as per the husbands’ demands.

With Ramesh off on official tours, Divya keeps herself busy by writing books, and taking care of their daughter Latika. Away from her husband’s criticism, she enjoys her independence, and the opportunity to think freely. However, her life takes a dramatic turn when Ramesh falls in love with a Chinese woman. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes in more ways than one. Suddenly, Divya’s entire life is in upheaval, and she must find the strenght to change her destiny. She slowly starts to make new friends, and realizes that she can do much more in life than just cook idli and sambhar. Bonsai Kitten shows how the protagonist sheds away archaic norms of gender inequality, and at the same time proudly celebrates her Indianess.

Bonsai Kitten is a novel that speaks about different women issues, and the loneliness that expatriates feel. The book has characters of various nationalities, which add depth to the story. The author uses a non-linear narrative style, and her writing is peppered with satire and wit. The name of this book comes from a hoax which claimed that if kittens were kept in a jar, they would eventually take the shape of the bottle.