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To marry is a choice. To maintain the marriage life is another though demanding. It is worth noting that, though all desire to marry, not all can bear the life attached therein. It is patience, rather than love, that keeps the life going and given the opportunity, it stands out that a good number of married people would quit it. However, it is ironical that despite this fact, many, specifically the young people, are moving into it at an alarming rate.
Virtually all focus on the brighter part of it but little do they know that behind the beauty, lies the true colors, whose occurrence and departure leaves behind stories of fight, divorces, and deaths, to mention but a few. All these scenarios portray the life of the married people. As a way of encouraging the married as well as those who wish to marry, a lot has been published to equip them on knowledge of reality of marriage and what is expected in the marriage organization.
Among these is the masterpiece of director Satyajit Ray. In his celluloid The World of Apu, episodes of people in the marriage world set in right from the beginning. In the brief period the movie is on air, Apu and Aparna stand out as a husband and wife respectively, whose epigrammatic life concurs with Wood, “The film offers one of the cinema’s classic affirmative depictions of married life” (72). In his movie and through these characters, Ray depicts love, divorces, untimely deaths of either or both parties and communal bringing up of kids, as part of marriage life as expounded in the following scenes.
As a husband and wife, Apu and Aparna come in handy to give a portrait of life in marriage. As the movie blossoms, marriage is a life, initially led by strangers. Ray inaugurates Apu, the pitiable and fraught former university graduate. At this time, Apu hardly bears even the least of clues of the person he will marry, come the opportunity. In fact, Berardinelli says, “…they initially come together as strangers then…” (Para. 4). It is clear that the journey does not begin with people who are familiar with one another. It is rather a unique voyage of miles and miles, whose parties stick out as pure strangers.
In fact, Apu gets to know of Aparna through his friend, Pulu, who invites him to Aparna’s wedding. According to Vorndam, Pulu’s description of Aparna to Apu clearly shows how Apu knows nothing about her. He says, “Pulu convinces Apu to come with him for a few days to East Bengal where a relative of his is getting married” (Para 3). In addition, Robinson posits that, “Apu and Aparna are seen for the first time, immediately after…” (101). Though, the couple end up getting used to each other with time, Apu and Aparna offer enough illustration of how marriage life kicks off with strangers. Poverty is part of marriage life.
As many share the notion that, it is money or wealth that keeps marriage life on the move, Apu and Aparna portray the reverse. Right from the beginning of the movie, Apu’s poverty stands. In fact Mainak describing Apu’s life since his school hood says, “He finds himself among a large population of the unemployed youth in the city. To pay his rent, he has to sell his books” (Para 1). In one of his reviews, Fredericksburg referring to Aparna’s life before says, “Aparna, his new bride, is used to a life of luxury outside of the big city but she is prepared for a life of poverty with her new husband” (Para 1).
There are a good number of young people who claim to be waiting until they accumulate enough resources in order to marry. But according to Apu’s take on the issue, it is not money, but a choice that one makes, regardless of what he/she has. In fact, he believes that money will never be enough and that, provided the opportunity strikes, there should be no looking back, but going for it without hesitation. Building on this expositions, marriage life is an unforced process that requires love to develop as the next paragraph explains.
Ray employs some camera shots which picture love as a requirement in the marriage institution. For instance, “…instead he chooses to show the husband finding one of his wives hairpins between the pillows, holds it lovingly in his hand and raises his eyes to look at his wife preparing breakfast – a perfect use of the more-is-less approach” (Vorndam Para. 1). The fact that the two begin as unknowns does not imply a continued state. Each is free to let his/her character known to the other, just the way they freely agree to be a couple.
Fredericksburg views this life as process when he says, “Apu and his bride slowly begin to love and care for one another” (Para 1), which shows how the two are gradually stepping away from the world of unknowns to known. In accordance with this, Lamp adds that, “when Aparna is brought to her new home, there is moment in which she matures – from a girl to a woman” (Para. 1). Maturity, as it stands, is no more than the final change attainable in marriage. It is the time when life is fully developed, if at all it is nourished by love.
Apu, regardless of his poverty, is rich in love and so is Aparna, regardless of her mental disorder. In fact, Fredericksburg says, “their love is like a…one that’s so innocent and wonderful we want to dream forever. …Happiness is just a fleeting emotion for Apu, one that…” (Para. 1). Robinson adds that, “…they are again alone in their lovers’ world” (102), words which shows how love play a crucial role in the life of married people. Aparna’s letter to Apu crowns it all as Lamp observes, “The letter from Aparna to Apu captures love in all its glory” (Para 1). Is marriage a happy life always?
Marriage life harbors both ups and down and whichever comes ought to be accepted for it must come anyway and no power from wherever can prevent this. Couples do not always experience happy moments in their life. The death of Aparna entirely alters Apu’s feelings. He is no longer the happy groom. In fact, when he receives the news of the death of his wife, he devastatingly “reacts angrily, striking the messenger” (Vorndam Para. 5). He is hardly at peace as a result. Sorrows, blames, loneliness, and pains dominate his life, but all these can change if he accepts death as part of marriage life. Family members form part of this life as explained next.
The responsibility of bringing up children is not left to the parents alone. Other family members have a share in this obligation. This fact broadens the composition of marriage life as it is brought about by children. Apu’s step of avoiding his duty as a father to Kajal does not completely leave the kid without care. In his comments, Bscardozo notes, “The World of Apu shows Apu marrying, his wife dying, his leaving his son with his wife’s parents and then going away to…” (Para. 3). The kid remains under the care of its grandfather and this brings out the role of the extended family in Therefore, Apu’s neglecting of his child infixes his parents to take over his responsibility, picturing them as part of marriage life. Finally, marriage life is not a continuous process.
Marriage life bears a beginning and an end. It is the length of the life that varies. For instance, Apu’s marriage ends with the death of his wife as she is giving birth to their first child Kajal. Brown addresses this issue when he says, “five years after the death of his beloved wife” (7), showing that there is an appointed time when the two shall be put asunder, probably by divorce or death. The latter is an inevitable occurrence and ought to be accepted as Crow points out on Apu’s reaction after his wife’s death when he says, “…and his coming to terms with her loss” (Para. 1) referring to Apu’s take after the death.
In conclusion, marriage, as exposited above, stands out as a life, whose shape depends on the parties. It is up to the couple to choose on whether to stay a happy life or not. Building on Apu and Aparna, the life of married people stands out. It is a journey that begins with strangers, it is a limited process developed by love, and it may or may not be poverty dominated, among others. Though brief, the couple’s married life coincides with Robin wood’s words, “The film offers one of the cinema’s classic affirmative depictions of married life” (101). Ray’s work is no more than a ‘must watch’ chef-d’oeuvre, heavy laden with content, relevant not only to the married, but also to the vigorous incoming lot.
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