In Khushwant Singh’s short story “Karma,” Lady Lal is the wife of Sir Mohan Lal and plays a supporting role in the narrative. She is portrayed as a traditional and conservative woman who is devoted to her husband and upholds the societal expectations of her position as the wife of a high-ranking government official.
Lady Lal is depicted as a typical upper-class Indian woman of the time, focused on maintaining her social standing and reputation. She is shown to be submissive to her husband and is portrayed as a dutiful wife who supports him in his endeavors, even if they are morally questionable.
Throughout the story, Lady Lal is seen as a silent observer of her husband’s actions. She is aware of his corrupt practices but chooses not to confront or challenge him. Her character serves as a representation of the societal norms and gender roles prevalent during that era, where women were expected to remain in the background and defer to the decisions and actions of their husbands.
However, as the story progresses, Lady Lal’s character undergoes a subtle change. She starts questioning her husband’s behavior and the morality of their lifestyle. She becomes increasingly disillusioned with the lavish and unethical lifestyle they lead. This dissatisfaction culminates in her decision to leave her husband and retreat to the hills in search of solace and spiritual enlightenment.
Lady Lal’s character highlights the constraints placed on women during that time and the internal conflicts they often faced. While initially conforming to societal expectations, she ultimately breaks free from the traditional roles assigned to her and seeks her own path to self-discovery and liberation.
Though Lady Lal’s character has a relatively minor role in the story compared to Sir Mohan Lal, her journey mirrors the larger theme of self-reflection and transformation. Her decision to distance herself from the corrupt world she was part of suggests a desire for personal growth and a rejection of the oppressive systems that dominated her life.