A tale of two families

M ango Cheeks, Metal Teeth revolves around two families of contrasting stature at the small town of Ambalakunnu, Kerala. Madhavan Nair runs a successful business in the small town, owning a huge mansion where his large family stays with a dog, a cat, two servants et al. His grand-children from Mumbai and Delhi come visiting every summer, livening up the quaint house.

Running parallel to their story is the one of ‘Koovait Kannan’ and Sundarikutty, the newly-rich family of Ambalakunnu. Before fortune smiled upon them, Sundarikutty had worked as a cook, doing all the odd chores of Nair family. Upon seeing money, she swells with pride, turning her back to her humble beginning.

The Plot

The book revolves around three stories within it – the coming of age of eleven year old-Geetha, one of Madhavan’s grand-daughters from Mumbai, the typical gulf-malayali family, boasting of their richness and the love track of an adolescent that goes wrong. Koovait Kannan’s daughter Bindu gets engaged to Ration Raman’s third son Venu. Raman belongs to the only other high profile family in their small town.

The Kannans plan a grand wedding to their fullest capacity. Meanwhile, Kannan’s teenage son fools around with the Nair house maid Kamala, who is older than his sister. Hell breaks loose when Kannan loses his job at Kuwait.

Burdened with wedding expenses, Sundarikutty approaches her old employer Madhavan Nair’s wife for help and the rest of the story forms how things fall in place for the wedding.

Nostalgia flows

The story initially starts out as a reminiscing note of the eighties, centred around eleven-year old Geetha. However, as the story progresses, it talks more about a typical Indian wedding woes, an egoistic meet of two women and sleazy familial tales. Aruna’s experience as a writer and columnist is evident with her language. Humour flows effortlessly for her, which is the biggest strength of the novel.

The chapters make an interesting read as individual units. However, they fail to make an impact as a novel. In some places, the story seems like an extended column. Read it if you like stories that take you down your memory lane, if you want to know more about a typical middle class wedding. Mango Cheeks, Metal Teeth, starts out as Geetha’s Malgudi Days and end up as a tale of how Bindu married Venu in the summer of late eighties.

Title: Mango Cheeks, Metal Teeth

Author: Aruna Nambiar

Publisher: Tranquebar Press

Price : Rs. 350

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 3:23:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nxg/a-tale-of-two-families/article6230865.ece

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