Comparison of Veronica and Stench of Kerosene

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The two stories I have looked at are very different from one another. The first story “A Stench Of Kerosene” written by Amrita Pritam is set in India. Guleri the young woman in the story was married to a loving husband, she lived with his family like many Indian couples do. For a reason that is not told in the story she could not have children and her mother-in-law found a second wife for her son behind Guleri’s back. Guleri committed suicide when finding out the news and her husband blamed himself for her death and was deeply distraught.

The second story was written by Adewale Maja-Pearce called “Veronica” the story is set in Africa. It is about a young girl who grows up and deals with difficult and tragic family African traditions. She looses her family and dies happy knowing she said goodbye to her one and only friend. I am comparing the two women in these stories, because they both grow up with tragic life tales but they have to deal with the different cultures and traditions of their countries. I am also going to then compare them to western women who live in a far more modern world.

Guleri’s lived in India her whole life and moved down from a very wealthy family to a not so wealthy family when she married Manak. As a child she was clearly well loved and cared for. During the year she was only allowed to spend a few days with her parents: “once every year … was allowed to spend a few days with her parents”. She visited them when an annual fair visited her hometown.

She arrived at the same time as her friends from her childhood: “Two of her friends, … the girls looked forward to their annual reunion, talking about their joys and their sorrows. It’s clear she misses her friends although for a young woman she doesn’t have many. Her two friends have also married men away from home so they also live away from their families. Reading the story one of the first impressions I received was if she was truly happy living with her husband, although she greatly loved him she obviously missed her parents most days of her life: “Guleri was homesick”, although she married down in class because of tradition she had to live with her husbands family. Although Guleri couldn’t have children it did not change her relationship with her husband they both cared deeply for another.

When it came for her to visit her parents although she desperately wanted to go and loved seeing them, she couldn’t bare to be apart from her husband and wanted him to go with her: “You’ll come to the fair … won’t you? Come even for a day” these are the words she pleaded to her husband attempting to pursuade him to go with her. When they talked to each other they treated each other as equals even though she is serving his family she doesn’t think of him as better as her and neither does he. During her stay with her parents they showed their love for by spoiling her and making sure she had a great stay as most loving parents do.

She was always excited about the visit: “She did not have to express her excitement in words; the look on her face was enough. ” During the story, there’s not much detail about the depth of the characters but Manak and Guleri knew each other well enough to be able to read and translate the expressions shown on their faces. Her parents spoiled her buying: “glass bangles and silver earrings”. This also shows her parents wealth, as along with the jewellery they would have: ” new clothes made for the occasion. ”

Living with Manak’s family Guleri doesn’t have much freedom; she has no friends, no social life and job or education. At Manak’s family home she has her daily chores to complete. Her mother-in-law sets that; she needs to do things like feeding the animals and helping around the house. To begin with this may have been hard on her because she wasn’t used to doing jobs at home. It seems as though in her new family she is being treated like a servant more than a member. When she leaves to return to her family for a couple of days: ” They patted her head and blessed her.

This is the way her in-laws say goodbye they show little affection. Guleri had to answer to her mother-in-law, when she wanted to go and see her parents she had to ask for permission to go. Or if she wanted help with something even though she could talk to Manak about it she had to go to her mother-in-law. Her attitude to life isn’t selfish but she does take some things for granted that others may not have: “Guleri was childishly stubborn” this description of her may be excused for because she was an only child as there is no mention of other siblings.

It may have been difficult to deal with married life and the traditions she had to follow, as before she had got married she didn’t have any real responsibilities and was very dependent on her parents. But now that she’s married her whole life has suddenly changed and in some ways has taken a down turn. Manak’s mother found him a second wife. The Indian culture allows a man to have a multiple number of wives at the same time. Manak was due to marry this woman when Guleri went for her stay with her parents. Guleri didn’t know about the second wife, Manak didn’t want one but also didn’t want to tell Guleri about it.

He may have been scared of his mum or might of not known how to tell her without hurting her. Manak’s mother wanted him to have another wife so he could have children, because Guleri wasn’t able to bear child. Manak’s mother may have just wanted grandchildren it may have earnt her respect in the community or she may have just not wanted to let her family die out so quickly but for it to carry on.

When Guleri left she knew something was wrong, that there was something Manak was not telling her: “Your mother’s said nothing, so why do you stand in the way? We do not know if she blamed Manak or if she knew it was his mother. She may have thought he had some love for this new wife or she may not have. Even so she must have been extremely upset about the news because when she heard she tragically committed suicide by setting herself alight, maybe she couldn’t bare to live with the thought of sharing her husband or losing him to another woman? The second story “Veronica” the main character is a young girl called ‘Veronica’. For her whole life she lived in the same hut, in a small village in Africa.

Whereas Guleri who moved away from her family, although it was only a town or two away from her parents home. Unlike Guleri, Veronica’s family were poor and lived in poverty. Also Veronica didn’t live in a happy home, her father used to beat her and her mother was too weak, and unable to help Veronica: “Night after night… listening to her screams”. No one in the village helped either but this was their way of living, and so they didn’t interfere with other families. Veronica lived in a large family; unlike Guleri who was an only child being the eldest Veronica had many responsibilities.

Her chores involved to: “fetch water from the stream… chopped wood… the responsibility for bringing up the other children”. Her parents didn’t seem to love Veronica and their other children very much, unlike Guleri’s parents who showed their love by spoiling her and buying her gifts. Veronica had to grow up quickly she needed to act as a mother figure for the other children and she had a lot of responsibilities, Veronica’s childhood was very sad and lonely due to this. Whereas Guleri was allowed to live her childhood and it was a happy and a fulfilled one.

Later in Veronica’s life she got married but it seemed more to be for convenience because all her family had left: “‘What about your bothers and sisters? ‘ ‘They are gone all of them. ‘” Once they left Veronica had no one else to care for and therefore had no purpose, whereas Guleri married for love. Veronica had a child: “God has blessed us with a son”, Guleri could never have children and I think Veronica truly loved her son although it was another person to look after which is what she likes and lived for in life.

When Veronica lost her son and husband to war, she had no one left to care for and therefore wanted to die: “I won’t live to see tomorrow. Nor do I want to. ” Okeke her only friend tried to save her but she had nothing to live for and Veronica died in the same hut that she had lived in for her whole life. Like Guleri, Veronica died a young woman, and chose not to live. Veronica and Guleri’s lives differ completely to those of British women. The majority of British women are not dependent on their husbands and they have the right to be independent.

Lives of British women are different to Veronica’s, because many young children don’t have any responsibilities and if they do they are only light chores like tidying their room. Also parents can’t hit their children without consequences and punishment. Financial help is available for families as well, so parents can afford to buy their children new clothes and be able to feed them. Every child gets an education due to the law its compulsory for parents to make sure they are enrolled in to a school. Guleri’s life differs from British women’s because we aren’t expected to live with our in-laws and become a servant for them.

Also marriages aren’t arranged and it is illegal to have multiple wives at the same time, it’s the law to go through a divorce with the present wife before the new one can be legally bonded to the husband. I think both women led awful lives but Veronica’s life was worse. Guleri was fortune enough to have a happy childhood, loving parents and a caring husband who loved her. Unlike Veronica she had more than happiness she had money to. Veronica always had someone to look after and when she didn’t she felt incomplete. Also Veronica lost everyone she loved, where as Guleri still had her family, who I’m sure, would of taken her back in.

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