Kamala Markandaya

‘A Silence of Desire’ is seemingly about the turmoils in the life of a government clerk, after his routine is shattered one day when he finds his wife missing when he returns home from work. Furthermore, he also realises later that the reason she had given for her absence was not the truth. He suspects his wife of infidelity. Much flustered, and not helped by the discussions happening in his office on the social mores of womenfolk, he follows her and finds out something, which to him becomes a more painful thing to bear than what he had initially suspected his wife of. His structured life then goes through a turbulence, as his personal problems begins to affect his work, and even his character undergoes a change.

What makes the book interesting is how the author uses the family to show the upheaval that happened in Indian society after the British left. The spirituality and faith of the traditional Indian housewife collides with the scientific and rational mindset of her British trained husband. The father is disturbed that his teenaged daughter would go to the ‘milk bar’ with a male friend, even if its in a group. There is even some reference to the conflict between north and south indian civil servants because of their varying approach to problems and fellow workers.

Even as the author manages to create a microcosm of the changes that were sweeping Indian society, her narrative and prose manage to bring out the human aspect in a very convincing manner.