Review – “Child/Currency” by Ketan Bhagat

Marriages are made in heaven but broken in court. Huh. What a dud marriage is then, don’t you think? Something which the heavens itself approved of, how can it be broken so easily? Sign a paper and you are free? Sounds incredibly ludicrous. What about the child then? The one who came out of this very broken marriage? Is he/she given the same treatment as the marriage, sign a paper and be free or be responsible for the child? Unfortunately, yes.
Child custody is something that I haven’t had the chance to read on till now. Out of all the books that I’ve read, and there are quite many, none of them touched this even remotely. And to say that this is one of the most common things that we see and hear about these days whenever a marriage fails. Child/Currency by Ketan Bhagat is the 3rd book by the author and I must say, it would touch a nerve with a lot of people who read it in a lot of ways.

Shreyas Kapoor is a struggling author. Having failed miserably with his debut novel, he still hopes to make it big one day, just like his much successful elder brother Preyas. With the movie deal gone sour and the only publisher who is agreeing to take up his second book being a small timer, Shreyas really has no choice but to take what he is being offered. But it doesn’t sit well with his wife of 10 years, Prakriti, who thinks he can do better if he waits.
Coming from a financially unstable family, Prakriti’s dreams take wings with the help of Shreyas, who lovingly indulges her in her studies, foreign trips, expensive gifts, and lastly, her very own business. Spanning over a decade, all these luxuries seem to take Prakirti to heights of nuisance, for Shreyas and their own child, Kanha. The inevitable happens soon enough and Shreays is barred from meeting the soul of his life, his Kahna while facing a slew of court cases, including the hellish domestic violence charge. Left with no choice but to comply with an ever-increasing mountain of miseries and bad luck, Shreays takes to Bhagwat Gita for life lessons and peace. His journey thereafter brings him not happiness but points him in a direction that is best suited for a person in his case.

A slow-burning story, the writing is average, but it definitely could have been much better in the hands of a good editor, sharp, crisp, and one who could have avoided this mammoth of a book, 450+ pages as an ebook which is the primary factor that goes against this book. When I began reading, frankly, I felt this would be one of those books that would never find its way to me again, there wouldn’t be anything worth mentioning later, but as I went along, I was left astonished at the sheer amount of research that would have gone into this book. No, not in terms of the legal aspects but the personal, psychological, financial, physical, and emotional aspects of those involved in such bitter fights. The characters are aplenty, some just touch and go and I don’t even remember their names, while some stay put for longer despite making only guest appearances here and there. So many characters did irritate me a lot, but I persevered. There could have been a lesser number of these characters, especially the ones who didn’t add any meat to the story. Of all the characters that prodded through the pages, only Shreyas and Prakriti felt as if they had any arc. They were the only ones who weren’t uni-directional. They had layers and layers, both good and evil, and in between, grey. Shreyas’s attempts at spiritual growth, then back to being the flawed self, the retrying, and then again being the selfish man that he is, all felt so eerily real and humane.
One particular line of thought in the book that I admire the author for is that of the suffering of a father for his child. We have always read about unconditional maternal love, but this story lays bare the feelings of a father beautifully. Just as a mother would make the most difficult of the choices when it comes to her child, the father here keeps everything aside, his money, his ego, his self-respect, his life, and everything else that you can name just to be with his dear child for 5 minutes. As much as it is heart-rendering, it is pitiable that someone is brought to their knees in a manner that they forget what it felt like to walk.
So, I have two opinions here, both about this book and both mine. One is the true feminist approach, equality of the male and the female, while the other one is more pseudo feminism, one that deals with the women being victims of everything, and hence, deserve compensation always. The patriarchal society that has always made victims out of women now seethes under its very own product. The victims have now turned victimizers, and with the history favoring the ones who have been victimizers ever since the dawn of humanity, how could our legal system be far behind. Whether a man is guilty of the charges against him or not, one can’t decide. With the cases of the laws meant to protect women being used unfairly by a handful of women for their own selfish needs, there is an opening for improvement for such laws, and more importantly, the need to block the loopholes. Honestly, I don’t know which one to hold true in such cases, because both parties involved are equally flawed, it is hard to comprehend who deserves a lesser punishment but what I am sure of is that a child doesn’t deserve any of this BS.

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