Review / Summary / Appreciation

   “Matchbox” written by Ashapurna Debi tells the story of the couple Ajit and Nomita. It presents the picture of the unhealthy relationship existing in some Indian families. The author compares women to matchboxes. Matchboxes have the potential to set everything on fire. But in appearance, they are meek and harmless. Women also are capable of great things if they realize their potential.

   The central character of the story is Nomita. She is a typical Indian wife who does not realize her true potential. She is good looking and that is how she got married off to the rich joint family.    Her husband Ajit has the habit of opening his wife’s mail. He argues that it is his right to screen her mail. He doesn’t pay any attention to Nomita’s protest. Whenever she protests, she is treated badly. Besides, he ridicules her by calling her ‘dung picker’s daughter’.  Her poor family background forces her to suffer the humiliation in silence.

   Nomita is presented in the story as a person who speaks her mind.  So no one attacks her outright.  The other members of the joint family can only pinch her with sharp words.  The readers become very empathetic towards Nomita as they understand the poverty and the miserable condition of her mother. Her mother has the habit of begging money from her daughter and son-in-law. Really the letters she received were from her loving mother.

   At the climax of the story we see Nomita infuriated when Ajit asks her what she could do.  She sets fire to the anchol of her own sari.  This frightens Ajit and he becomes defensive.  But later when he goes out and meets others she pretends as if nothing has happened.  She cannot tell her mother and those in the village about her real situation.  She is not ready to burn the colorful shell in which she has shut herself up.

   Men know that women will not be ready to move out of their comfort zones.  That is why they handle them so confidently and carelessly as they treat matchboxes.  They put them in their pockets because they are sure that they will not burn themselves or harm them.

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