One More Dead Body by Kartar Singh Duggal
In One More Dead Body by Kartar Singh Duggal we have the theme of hopes, aspirations, infidelity, shame, trust and fear. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator it becomes clear to the reader from the being of the story that Duggal may be exploring the theme of hopes and aspiration. Malkani wishes to live in the Rawal building because not only is it nearer to his workplace but it also has a degree of prestige associated with it. However it is interesting that when Malkani does move into the Rawal building he continues to work long hours and does not appear to be enjoying his environment. He prefers to work overtime in order to have more money. Money he may not necessarily need to have which may leave some critics to suggest that Malkani is more of a workaholic than a diligent employee. Nonetheless at the start of his moving into the Rawal building, Malkani is happy with his lot.
The theme of infidelity is self-evident in the story when the reader discovers that Malkini’s wife is cheating on Malkani. Rather than let the matter go unnoticed Malkani is outraged and throws his wife’s lover out of the building (bedroom). Something which causes a stir with his neighbours who are used to living in relative quiet. What is also interesting about what happens is that Malkini’s wife feels ashamed? Though whether she feels ashamed because she has been caught having an extra-marital affair is difficult to say. At no stage does Malkani ask his wife how long the affair has been going on for. It could be weeks, months or even years since Malkini’s wife took a lover. The important thing to remember is that she is afraid of Malkini’s response when he catches her with her lover. If anything the hard-working Malkani may have come to the realisation that he cannot trust his wife any longer.
However what Malkani does next might be important. He tells the building supervisor that his wife was not caught in bed with another man but rather they were having a domestic argument. Just as others in the building might. This too could be significant as it would seem the building takes precedence over how Malkani feels. He seems to love the building more than his wife. When threatened with eviction by the building supervisor. Malkani changes his story to that of having an argument with his wife. He knows that he cannot bring shame on the building but he himself feels ashamed of his wife’s actions. Which may leave some readers to suggest that appearance and living in the building is more important to Malkani. It may simply be a point that Malkani does not really care if his wife loves him. Just as long as she stays by his side he will turn a blind eye to her infidelities.
The end of the story is also interesting. The matter of Malkini’s wife cheating is no longer to the forefront of the building supervisors mind. However the neighbours know exactly what has happened (a death of sorts) and know it is only a matter of time till Malkani is unsatisfied again. He may fool himself that his home is safe and that he can work longer hours in work but he will never be able to forget that his wife cheated on him. It is something that he will have difficulty living with. Rather than taking a step back in the social ladder Malkani is prepared to live a lie. As too is his wife. The mood and atmosphere in the family home will be tinged with anger because of the wife’s actions. Yet Malkani still believes he can safely live with her. It is only a matter of time till this proves not to be the case. Another lover may come along or Malkani will come to his senses and realise that his marriage is over and with his marriage over so too may Malkani lose the apartment he so much values. In reality there are two losers. Malkani himself and his wife who will have to change her life dramatically now that Malkani may decide not to remain marriaged to her.