Home illustrates the ways in which joint families function, how they can be both restrictive and supportive, confining and secure. This is normal to families in general, but in a joint family the whole experience is heightened as well as varied by the numbers involved. The status of a relative, his/ her misery or happiness depends on much: how they are placed in the pecking order, their gender, their wealth and connections [if they marry in], their fairness [also construed as beauty so far as women are concerned], their ability to win supporters, their willingness to subsume themselves, their closeness to the ones in power, are factors that influence the bonds members form with each other.
The story is set in Karol Bagh, one of the oldest commercial districts in Delhi. The Banwari Lal family lives here, steps away from the shop they own. Cloth merchants, their merchandise diversifies over the years and mirrors the altered way Indian women see themselves, as they move from saris to readymade salwar kameez, to western wear. Alongside the marriages, births and deaths that cause the numbers in the family to shrink and swell, come changes in the structure of the house and the shop.
In set ups that are so traditional what happens when someone, for one reason or another, falls through the cracks of expectations that accompany her from the moment she is born? Home examines the fate of one such girl.
Home, Random House India, 2006, Faber and Faber, 2006.