The Views of Indian Culture Portrayed in A Stench of Kerosene by Amrita Pritam
'A Stench of Kerosene' written by Amrita Pritam, portrays the
consequences of the strong influence of Indian culture in a village,
which destroys a couple's marriage. Manak and Guleri have been happily
married for eight years.
The story opens to give the reader an insight into Guleri's
homesickness. "Whenever Guleri was home-sick she would take her
husband, Manak and they would go up to the top of the hill. 'She would
see the homes of Chamba (her home village) twinkling in the sunlight
and would come back, her heart glowing with pride'. This passage
illustrates a happy couple in love, turning to each other for comfort.
However the reader is given an impression of Guleri's imprisonment by
her village customs and culture. Only 'once every year, after the
harvest had been gathered in, Guleri was allowed to spend a few days
with her parents'
They would send a man to collect and bring her back to her own
village. The story begins with Guleri recognising the neighing of the
mare. She ran out of her in-law's house and put her head against her
neck as if it were a door to her father's house! Doing this would
relieve her from her homesickness. Pritam show sympathy for Guleri's
homesickness, as she is cut-off from her family and there's no one
apart from Manak to relieve her and comfort her.
Because of the village culture her freedom has been taken away from
her. Due to her homesickness one would assume that she would be
allowed to stay at her home a reasonable period of time, but this
isn't the case as she is only allowed to stay for a 'few days'. To add
further emphasis Guleri wasn't allowed to go to her parent's home by
herself. Her family would 'send a man to Lakarmandi to bring her back
Guleri worked hard and 'went about her daily chores; fed the cattle,
cooked food for the parents-in-law and then sat back'. Once a year she
would be allowed to attend with some girls who lived nearby her
village harvest festival. 'Once every year, there was a harvest
festival when the girls would have new clothes made for the occasion.
Their duppatas would have been dyed, starched and sprinkled with mica
to make them glisten. They would buy glass bangles and silver
ear-rings'. It was customary for the girls to prepare for such a
valued event in their lives. This shows that the girl's lives are
normally bleak and dull. This festive event allows them to experience
some of happiness. It was as if they are an untouchable excite of
girls experiencing happiness, but only for a 'few days'.
As Guleri had nothing else exciting to look forward to in her life she
would 'count the days to the harvest festival'. This was to motivate
herself by giving her worth waking up for. Guleri and other woman like