Communication has been highlighted as a key issue in enhancing meaningful relationships. A man and a woman have been culturally assigned certain responsibilities, which they have to accomplish for them to manage life. However, some issues and challenges that come with life may hinder one or both partners from fulfilling their obligations. In such moments, it is usually important for them to talk over the issues and ensure they understand each other. Marriage relationships reach a point where there is a lot of familiarity that each partner expects the other to understand even when they do not explain (Lahiri 15). Such an attitude grows into a habit and before the couple knows it, they are no longer in touch with their feelings and emotions, therefore causing tension in the relationship.
Shukumar and Shoba have gone through various challenging moments where they failed handle it effectively. Six months had passed and the couple had not yet overcome the grief of losing their child. The events that followed the death of their child is what caused tension in their relationship and a breakdown in communication. From the novel, we learn that the couple covered up their relationship flaws using their work. Shukumar was always busy with his dissertation at night while Shoba was an editor and mostly worked during the day. Even though they lived in the same house, there was no communication as they also chose to eat their food separately (Williams, Stacey & Carl 87). A five-day blackout reveals the secrets that the couple had been hiding and temporarily reignites the romance in their life. Just when it seemed things were working out, the last secrets they reveal completely break their relationship.
We are also encountered with a similar scenario in the blessed house where there is a breakdown in communication between Twinkle and Sanjeev. The differences in culture, coupled by the fact that they dated through a long distance relationship makes it quite complex for them (Lahiri 144). Just like Shukumar and Shoba who realised that, they knew little about each other; marriage life opens their eyes to the differences they share.
Familiarity between the couple is one of the reasons they separated. There is a lot that the couple had taken for granted, including their responsibilities and the accountability they had towards each other. From the tone of their voices, as they enjoyed intimate times in the blackout, they showed no remorse for the secrets they had kept from each other. They mainly shared such secrets because there was no better thing for them to do. They also used the moment as a play game where they let each other know that they were engaged in secret deals. Whenever Shoba revealed a certain secret, Shakumar followed by revealing the other, we are not told in the novel when they were sorry for what they had done to each other and instead kept talking their secrets out. Even though they revived some romantic moments in their lives, deep within them, they knew it was just a dark moment that will soon end and they will have to go back to their old lives. Shukumar and Shoba had become so familiar with how they operated and they could easily fake a fun moment and get over with it with no intentions of making up. They were both going on well with their work and domestic activities yet they knew the harboured secrets that would threaten their relationship.
On the other hand, Sanjeev and Twinkle were lovers yet strangers to each other. The reality of religious and cultural differences came to life once they were married. Even though Sanjeev thought he would tolerate with Twinkle’s religious believes, it bothered him how his community would think about their relationship. He never openly shared with Twinkle about his worries yet felt uncomfortable at the fact that he kept Christian images in the house (Lahiri 151). Not having such an ability to share and talk about their fears was similar to what ultimately led to the separation of Shukumar and Shoba.
Piling up secrets in form of revenge is another reason that destroyed the relationship between Shukumar and Shoba. It had become a norm for the couple do carry on with their activities without consulting. The secrets the couple had dated back from when they were dating and they carried them on to their marriage. The couple had no plans to disclose the secrets and only happened coincidentally when they had a blackout. It was apparent that the few days they had would not be enough to exhaust their secrets and even if they did, there was no reconsolidation or way forward. This implies that even if they had to share all the secrets they had, they would still keep more secrets once the blackout was over and they were back to their normal lives. The worth they had for each other had been diluted by their lack of communication and it appeared as if the best thing to do was live their own lives (Robinson & Priscilla 40). Shoba had mastered the trick and knew there was no way they would spend their lives together. She secretly acquired a house for herself to end the tussle. With the secret of the new house revealed, there was no turning back for Shoba.
Just as temporal and impromptu the blackout was, so was their display of affection. Shukumar and Shoba had no better way of killing their boredom caused by their blackouts other than hurt each other with their secrets. It should be noted that on other normal days, Shukumar and Shoba were busy with their various responsibilities of dissertation and editing respectively. The nature of work they did was definitely more important than their relationship and it could only be done with the lights on. Since there were no lights, the couple were bored and were simply looked for a way to pass their time. As they shared their secret lives, they knew that it was just for a short time, which they could tolerate. Apart from the temporal blackout, their relationship was a temporal one (Fincham 83). The very thing that would bind them, their deceased baby was no more. Since then, their lives were empty and it was just a matter of time before they could call it quits. Over the days, keeping and revealing secrets had become a game to them, which they both enjoyed. Shukumar and Shoba enjoyed the game, just while the blackout persisted and once that was over, they would start their tricks on each other.
Shukumar and Shoba could only be open to each other in darkness yet it was only an occasional occurrence. The only time the couple could have time for each other was during the black out when they also took a break from their busy schedules. Whenever there was light, they found the opportunity to become busy as they concentrated on what they felt was more beneficial to them (Cusack & Kenneth 271). Figuratively, whenever there is light, people find time to engage in productive activities compared to the darkness where it is all about rest. The blackout days they had were therefore a form of holiday that the couple took to break up from the normal and relax. As they learned more about the secrets they had kept from each other, they were also mastering tactics that would help them survive their ailing relationship. The couple had never planned to have a time to spend time together and share their lives as they thought it was not necessary. Being caught up in a situation where they had no otherwise to talk was hence a coincidence they had to deal with. Shoba was in the process of finalizing her separation from Shukumar and used this opportunity to affirm the reasons why the two could no longer stay together.
Communication is a vital ingredient for relationships, without which the marriage can never last. Whenever there is a breakdown in communication, couples look for activities that will bridge up the gap between them as well as give them satisfaction. If the issue of communication is not handled with urgency, the couple stop treating each other as a priority and only consult them when they cannot avoid it. Reconciliation in such cases can only be facilitated if they both recognize the weaknesses they have and are willing to forgive each other. When a couple never set aside time to commune and talk over their issues, they often start keeping secrets, which assure them of certain power over each other. It becomes even more complicated like in the case of Shukumar and Shoba when they realise that the secrets they are keeping from each other have their roots from their dating times. It implies that the couple has the ability to cause major harm to each other simply because they do not cherish the reunion (Owen 277). Communication is not just about sharing secrets but also showing remorse and working on means to resolve the issues for the last time. When there is no show of remorse, it means that each partner has made up their mind to live with the secrets and that they no longer care about each other’s feelings. Having such an attitude is dangerous where the only solution is to separate to avoid any future heartache and frustration.
Cusack, Brian P., and Kenneth H. Wolfe. "When gene marriages don’t work out: divorce by subfunctionalization." Trends in Genetics 23.6 (2007): 270-272.
Fincham, Frank D. "Communication in marriage." Handbook of family communication 84 (2004): 83.
Lahiri, Jhumpa. "A Temporary Matter." Interpreter of Maladies: 1-22.
Lahiri, Jhumpa. "This Blessed House." Interpreter of Maladies (1999): 136-157.
Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of maladies. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000.
Owen, William Foster. "Interpretive themes in relational communication." Quarterly Journal of Speech 70.3 (1984): 274-287.
Robinson, Linda C., and Priscilla W. Blanton. "Marital strengths in enduring marriages." Family Relations (1993): 38-45.
Williams, Brian K., Stacey C. Sawyer, and Carl M. Wahlstrom. Marriages, families, and intimate relationships. Pearson Higher Ed, 2012.