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Sunday, Dec 05, 2021
Outlook.com
Review

Servant's Quarters

A novel knowledgeable about wealth, sentimental about poverty.

Servant's Quarters
Servant's Quarters
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Malika is the maid in the story. She's driven by her desire to rescue her son Momin, a child labourer in a carpet factory. The wife of the factory-owner is Mrs Masood. She is the mistress in the story and, when the book begins, we find her wanting to buy a bed for her soon-to-marry daughter. Conveniently, Mrs Masood comes to Malika's house whose husband's a master carpenter. Later, Malika joins Mrs Masood's house as a maid and engineers what we could call social change.

If the Bronté sisters could achieve fame writing about maids making it big, surely desi writers in English shouldn't be spared the same happy fate? After all, Noble Rot follows Jane Eyre's example by even installing a mad woman in the attic. But, alas, the book has the "noble rot" of clichés clinging to its skin. Melodrama replaces plot and the language strives too hard for effect: "Malika pushed aside the clawing and dawdling alike, one of whom caressed her throat, then yanked off her dupatta. While retrieving it, she stepped on a big toe swollen past the size of the heel...a loose flap of red skin hanging in place of the nail...the toe was a foreshadowing of what Momin's hands would become...."

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