Mulk Raj Anand’s “Two Lady Rams” is the short story about Lalla Jhinda Ram and his two wives, Sukhi and Sakuntala. The conflict in “Two Lady Rams” rises as Jhinda Ram receives the title of knighthood and shortly afterward a letter is delivered which is addressed to him and Lady Ram. The insistence of both spouses on being called Lady Ram and his difficulty in choosing only one of them as Lady Ram becomes the primary concern of the story. Mulk Raj Anand’s “Two Lady Rams” was published in Man Whose Name did not Appear in the Census and other Stories.
Two Lady Rams- Mulk Raj Anand–Summary
Title of Knighthood
The short story “Two Lady Rams” begins with the news that Lalla Jhinda Ram was conferred the title of Knighthood due to his sundry services to the British Empire. However, this good news was soon going to create a problem in his domestic life. The problem was associated with Jhinda Ram’s two wives: Sukhi, the first wife, and Sakuntala, the second wife. Both spouses insisted on being called Lady Ram. Jhinda Ram initially managed to cope with such complicated issues by paying no heed to it.
Jhinda Ram, as usual, was not concerned about the cold war between two lady rams and instead, he was quite busy in receiving and answering the inundation of congratulatory messages. He was on cloud nine. It was quite unbelievable for him that a man, whose father was a small shopkeeper, had suddenly been risen to such an exalted position in life and became equivalent to that of any sahib.
The war between two Lady Rams
The fight between two lady rams started since Jhinda Ram married his second wife, Sakuntala. With the arrival of twenty-five-year-old Sakuntala, fifty-year-old Sukhi was expelled from the primary position in the house. To avoid their seven years enmity, Jhinda Ram decided to separate his house in two different parts to both of them.
But the invitation card from the Government House twisted the situation. In order to felicitate all those dignitaries who had been granted titles, medals, and scrolls of honor, a Garden Party was organized at the residence of His Excellency the Governor and it was to be held the next day. an invitation card was delivered to Jhinda Ram and it was addressed to him and Lady Ram. There the problem rose, whom would he choose as his Lady Ram and go with him to the Garden Party?
Herald of conflict
Jhinda Ram at first asked his younger wife, Sakuntala, to buy a new sari and get ready for the occasion. When the news traveled through the servants to Sukhi’s ear, it made her feel subordinate and powerless.
So, in order to stop that from happening, Sukhi, early in the morning, stepped into the room where Sir Jhinda and Lady Sakuntala had been sleeping. She started to pour her anger at her young rival, “Eater of her masters, this is the last humiliation which you had to cast on me!” She added, “But I’ll pull every hair on your head and blacken your face!!!.”
On hearing this abusive language, they got out of bed, and Sir Jhinda, disapproving, rubbing his eyes, said, “Go to your rooms.” “I will stay here if I like.” adamant Sukhi protested loudly.
To control unstoppable Sukhi and her continuous flow of abuse Sir Jhinda finally exerted his authority in the house by taking Sukhi by the hair to her part of the house. Sukhi proved to be stubborn and resisted like a tiger, and created a hue and cry at the house.
Disturbed Jhinda Ram
Disturbed by her act, Sir Jhinda first telephoned the A.D.C. for an appointment but the A.D.C. was busy with preparation for the party and avoided him, presuming that Sir Jhinda had some usual deal or contract.
After the rejection, he thought of visiting the Governor of the province. At the gates of Governor‘s House, the sepoy said that Lat Sahib was at tiffin and there were strict orders that no one should disturb his siesta. Sir Jhinda was humiliated before his driver and turned homewards. On the way o home, he started to figure out some solution to the ongoing problem.
He knew certain things for sure: first, that Sukhi would never let him live in peace for life if she was not called Lady Ram and taken to the Garden Party; second, Sakuntala would never let him come near her if he took back his word, and third he could contact neither the Governor nor A.D.C., and it was of no use seeking the advice of any of the gentry in the town because they would make fun out of his problem rather than solving it.
When he reached his bungalow then the chauffeur asked to make a humble suggestion. He permitted him to speak, then the chauffeur suggested him to take both his wives to the party. Though Ram dismissed the driver’s simple idea by admonishing him to “mind your business,” but he believed that it could be a simple solution to the complicated problem.
The only difficulty was the invitation card which was addressed only to Sir Jhinda and Lady Ram, not to the two Lady Rams. Therefore he altered the words to “The two Lady Rams”. Afterward, he ordered the chauffeur to tell both spouses to get ready for the Garden Party. The driver told each of them separately that only one of the two Lady Rams was going to the garden party.
At the Garden Party
When both wives discovered that they had been tricked, the clever driver took charge of them and Sir Jhinda, pushed them into the car and they moved towards Government House. Luckily, there no unpleasant thing happened. In fact, Her Excellency complimented the two Lady Rams on their wonderful saris, and His Excellency bestowed the title of Knight to Sir Jhinda Ram. Since that day Sir Jhinda and the two Lady Rams had become an integral part of all ceremonial occasions in the capital.
Mulk Raj Anand– Two Lady Rams– Analysis
Lalla Jhinda Ram
Jhinda Ram was the husband of two Lady Rams. He was a contractor by profession. He is five foot five tall and an obese man. He was the master of the house and an authoritative figure.
His relation with his servants is typical to that of master-servant. When his driver proposed him the solution to his dilemma, he could not openly appreciate him, and instead, he warned him not to intervene in his family matter.
Sukhi is a fifty-year-old woman. Sukhi is the former wife of Lalla Jhinda Ram. She is the less- favored between the two Lady Rams. The possible reasons are first she is barren and second, she is old.
When the news, Jhinda Ram had only asked Sakuntala to accompany him to the Garden Party, traveled through the servants to the ear of Sukhi. An apprehension in Sukhi grew that if she was not allowed from being called Lady Jhinda Ram then she would lose all the prestige that belonged to her as a materfamilias and everyone in the house would look down on her. Therefore Sukhi’s protest implied her assertion of her authority.
Sakuntala was the second wife of Lalla Jhinda Ram. In comparison to first Lady Ram, Sakuntala was younger, a twenty-five-year-old woman. Though there was a fight between the two Lady Rams, Sakuntala regarded Sukhi as a mother-in-law to some extent and has been fairly respectful to her.
Condition of women
Though it seemed two Lady Rams enjoyed an equal status but it was Sukhi who was discriminated among them. Her worth as a human being was determined on the basis of her ability to procreate. As it was discovered that she was barren, her worth began to lessen in front of her husband’s eyes and he married another wife. She later had considered her husband’s second marriage was only for the continuation of the race.
Even the background of Sakuntala also raised some questions. Sakuntala had married Jhinda Ram who was much elder than her since Sukhi was double her age. Moreover, he was already a married man. She could have rejected him. From a statement of Sukhi, it was clear that Sakuntala did not bring anything from her home in the name of dowry whereas Sukhi brought a lakh of rupees from her maternal home. Therefore the probable reason for marrying an old, married man was a compulsion. For her marrying a rich man could be an avenue to climb on the social ladder.
The Dowry system was prevalent at that time. It was evident in the story during the protest of Sukhi, Sukhi claimed to her husband, “You had nothing before I brought a lakh of rupees in my dowry!… What did this bitch bring with her —nothing but a fair complexion and a snub nose.”
Significance of the title – Two Lady Rams
In “Two Lady Rams”, two Lady Rams were Sukhi and Sakuntala. They were called two Lady Rams because they were the wives of Lalla Jhinda Ram. The two Lady Rams had been engaged in a constant cold war for many years. Both longed for the attention of their mutual husband and wanted to be addressed as ‘Lady Ram’. Such rivalry between them was a common scene in Jhinda Ram’s domestic life. Their husband at the beginning easily coped with this cold war, but as the news of the award came to him, he simply ignored them.
The problem arose when the invitation card for the garden party was addressed only to “Sir Jhinda and Lady Ram”. He initially chose his young wife, Sakuntala to accompany him to the party. But after the protest of Sukhi, he was in a dilemma as he could not decide whom to choose. Therefore he thought that Governor of the province, the king’s representative, could easily resolve this.
Through this witty story, Mulk Raj Anand has pointed subtly to the social condition of that time. For instance, the British still allowed the Mitakshara Law. According to Mitakshara law son had the birthright in property of father whereas daughters had no right. This British also allowed men to practice polygamy but there was no rule whether all or any of those wives of a man could hold the title of Lady in case the husband was suddenly ascended to a Knighthood or Viscountcy, or Earldom, Dukedom or any high rank.
The colonial administration had not paid any concern to the women in the society. This suggested the position of the women at that time was negligible. Moreover, addressing a wife by her husband’s title was another instance of subordination.
It was the chauffeur of Jhinda Ram who proposed the idea of taking both Lady Rams. Since he married two wives, therefore he certainly had a right to call them both Lady Rams. Moreover, the Governor could not restrict the entry of one of two Lady Rams if he took both of them to the party.
Since the only problem for him was the invitation card, therefore, he altered the words to “The two Lady Rams”. His alteration of the words from Lady Rams to “The Two Lady Rams” was not his first experience of modification as he had altered many more intricate documents in the past. This suggested his cunning nature.
Later, when they reached the Government House, nothing unpleasant happened. In fact, two Lady Rams were praised by Her Excellency for their wonderful saris and Sir Jhinda Ram was bestowed the “Star of the Knight Commander of the Indian Empire” by His Excellency. From that day onward Sir Jhinda and his two Lady Rams became an integral part of all ceremonial occasions- Empire Day, cricket match, or horse race in the capital since those were incomplete without them.
Raj Anand, Mulk. Two Lady Rams”, Man Whose Name did not Appear in the Census and other Stories. Orient Paperbacks.