Mohan Kumar is a very rich person who has a single vice- women. He is crazy about them and is willing to spend lavishly to get their company. It started when he was in the United States attending college and then took a new turn after he divorced his wife and felt lonely without a women in his life, more specifically without someone to share his bed with him. This is in essence the story of the book that is the subject of the review, ‘The Company of Women’ by one of India’s most well-known and widely read authors, Khuswant Singh. Singh is well-known for his bold portrayal of the truth and in this case he has not let any stones be left unturned. He has very succinctly and beautifully said what men like Mohan Kumar can and will do if given a chance. However, he still shows the pitfalls of all these by ending Mohan’s life due to the deadly onslaught of AIDS which let him to commit suicide, lest the society and his family know about the truth of his somewhat clandestine affairs.
The book like almost all others books by Singh is on a subject that may seem very far-fetched from reality, but is instead at the heart of the society. The language is clear, precise and to the point. Unlike some of the new authors, he doesn’t drag things for too long and keeps his narrative fast paced. All these are the hallmarks of a seasoned author and you will find the real pleasure of book-reading as you go along the story. The end does seem to be very predictable, but it still comes as an abrupt surprise. The portrayal of women in the book is somewhat questionable, but so is the portrayal of men too. So, it just makes things even.
The title, seems to be misleading as it suggests that the main focus of the plot would be the women, but it is hardly the case as it is always the life of Mohan Kumar that takes center stage., A better title would have been perhaps, ‘The story of a lecherous man’ or maybe ‘The women in Mohan Kumar’s bed’. In any case, you cannot complain when you have all the three things that according to SRK sales things-sex, sex and sex. It might have been easier on the reader if some details were omitted and some other scenes of Mohan Kumar’s life would have been portrayed instead. For example, there is hardly any mention of his wife and children after Mohan Kumar is divorced and so also his father seems to be just a cameo appearance, whose only job was to marry off his son. These were some strong characters that the author could have further explored. Although not like his ‘Train to Pakistan’, this book will also indulge the reader and give him some fun. But it’s not a good bargain considering its a Khuswant Singh book.
Title: The Company of Women
Author: Khuswant Singh
Publisher: Penguin India
Price: Rs. 250