Translated from the Bengali by Honor Moore
Publication Date: September 7, 2010
Publisher: The Feminist Press
Source: Personal library
Jhumur is a young physics student living in Bangladesh when she meets Haroon, a businessman of the same age. In Haroon, Jhumur thinks she’s found everything she’s looking for and marries for love. Once she becomes his wife, life changes drastically. No longer can Jhumur work or leave the house unaccompanied, she must wear a head scarf at all times, and is expected to be the perfect bou: daughter-in-law. When Jhumur becomes pregnant, it’s a dream come true. That is until Haroon tells her that her unborn child couldn’t be his. Shocked by this revelation and unable to get her husband to believe her, Jhumur starts to plot her revenge with a neighbor who’s unaware that he’s the key to Jhumur’s revenge.
After I read the book’s synopsis, I thought Revenge could be a really interesting read and it was. Jhumur is a girl with hopes and dreams of being a physicist. Raised in a somewhat non-traditional family, Jhumur had parents who gave her freedom that is usually given only to men. She was encouraged to stick up for herself, fight if she had to, dive into whatever career that she wanted, and marry for love instead of money. But when Jhumur marries Haroon, all of that goes out the window. She isn’t content to stay at home and care for her husband’s family, but she doesn’t think about not going against her husband’s wishes and stay an individual. One of the great things about this book was the peak into Bangladeshi culture readers are given. Without it, I don’t think we would have been able to understand why Jhumur didn’t get a divorce (which would have labeled her an outcast), and instead plotted a revenge in the only way she could in her culture.
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
He was utterly impervious to the fact that he violated me. He had shattered my dreams and destroyed my belief in love, which was my only excuse for marrying into a situation in which all that my life and education had prepared me for was wasted! Instead of taking a job in a physics lab, I took care of my in-laws. I had dreamed of a happy married life that would not deprive me of individual freedom that respected differences, allowed contradiction-a venture built on trust, sympathy, honesty, and compassion. How naïve I had been! How blinded by desire! How stupid not to have asked ahead of time what Haroon’s dream of marriage was! Yet even in the midst of these thoughts, I was feeling a bit sorry for him.
Readers see a change with Jhumur after she starts going through with her revenge. It’s not a change for the better and she becomes cold and calculating, very different from who she is in the beginning of the book or when she’s around her best friend or new neighbor. The change was interesting to read about and it pushed me to read to the end. For such a small book, it packs a punch that leaves readers thinking about women and the roles that a society wants women to fit into – usually perfectly, without the thought of the consequences behind those roles.