Stench Of Kerosene, By Amrita Pritam And Veronica, By Adewala Maja Pearce

1478 words - 6 pages

This essay will consist of a brief background of both the story and the authors and I will compare and contrast both Indian and Nigerian culture and tradition, specifically looking at the woman’s role and duty within their family and community. The short story ‘A stench of kerosene’ retells the story of a young woman called Gulleri, who lives with her husband Manak and his family. Gulleri is unable to bear a child and therefore unable to produce a son, because of this, Manak’s mother arranges him to marry another woman whilst Gulleri is at the yearly harvest fair in her home town of Chamba. When Gulleri hears of manak’s new wife she soaks her clothes in kerosene and sets herself on fire. Author of, a stench of kerosene, Amrita Pritam who was a citizen of India in 1947, was famously known to write about personal experiences and events that occurred in India, therefore it is quite possible she would have been an eyewitness to horrific scenes like the story of Gulleri, So It is quite fitting that she would write a story of this nature. The story Veronica is also about a young woman, who lives with her family in a small village in Nigeria and her friend Okeke who leaves Nigeria to gain an education in England, ten years later he returned to find Veronica was married, with a child and living in acute poverty. Okeke left Nigeria and returned three years later after the destruction of the civil war, where he met Veronica for the very last time, Veronica died in Okeke’s arms. The author Adewale Maja-Pearce was a citizen of Nigeria; in fact his personal life is reflected greatly in this story as he actually grew up in Lagos and attended universities in England.
The saying “A women’s place is in the kitchen”, comes to mind when reading these two short stories. Both Guleri and veronica are viewed as objects, rather than human beings, they are slaves to their families. For instance veronica is a slave under her father’s fists, she has been raised to feel that she has a duty to cook and clean for her mother, father and siblings. This sense of duty is why she rejects the idea of moving to the city in pursuit of a better life, “I can’t just leave my family”. In ‘A stench of kerosene’ Guleri’s mother in law views her as a walking incubator and not as the loving wife of her son Manak, Guleri has married into a family where producing children is highly expected and failing to do so is inexcusable. This view of women is very typical of Nigerian and Indian Culture, as Women are expected to be emotionally weak. The stereo-typical view of men and women is highlighted in ‘a stench of kerosene’. Manak’s mother is a very emotionally strong woman, so when Manak returns home and listlessly slumps on the Charpoy, his mother comments that he should “be a man” her comment suggests that men are supposed to be emotionally strong. He wants to retort with “You are a women, why don’t you cry like one for a change!” This as I mentioned previously, suggests women are not...

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