"She was twenty-seven that year, and in the pit of her stomach she carried the cold knowledge that for her, life had been lived. She had had one chance. She had made a mistake. She married the wrong man."

One of the leading causes of shame in Indian culture is a failed marriage. For Ammu, it's a shadow that haunts her throughout the rest of her life. Not only does she marry the wrong man - a man her father disapproves of - but the marriage fails and it is she who assumes all the blame when she moves home to Ayemenem with her twins. Failed marriages result in Ammu and many other women, facing fierce social stigmatization and will find it hard, if not impossible, to remarry.

In India, arranged marriages were always - and in some cases still are - preferred. It is argued that the divorce rate in arranged marriages are much lower than in love marriages - although one hardly finds this surprising when the repercussions of a failed marriage are so severe. Unwed mothers, seperated, single, or unfaithful women are considered outcasts and they bring shame not only upon themselves, but upon their parents and are viewed as burdens.

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