6:00 p.m.: I am probing fresh vegetables at the local departmental store. There is a mad rush at the store with people jostling fellow customers that gives a feeling that today is the last day of this only departmental store in our locality, and so the most obvious thing to do is hoard, loot, and stock up whatever you possibly can. Fortunately, my nightmares are not true as the rush is due to people hurrying up to finish their weekend errands to reach the venue for burning the Ravan on the eve of Dussera. Our scriptures say that the idealist Ram killed the demon Ravan on this very same day centuries ago. So, we erect a giant structure of the demon king and alight it to flames to reminisce that day.
6:30 p.m.: I follow the crowd to reach the grounds where the ‘Burn the Ravan’ act will be performed. Though the replica of the demon king can be easily spotted (yes the tall stuffed structure built with so much effort and money only to be burnt down in a jiffy), where is the Ram who will do the honors of burning the structure. If that is the question that lingers in your mind, let me enlighten you. We the hoi polloi are the Rams who do the honors of reproducing the story that happened ages ago. Eyes rolling? Hiccups? Coughing? Save it; for all of these will show up when the Ravan facsimile is set to huge flames. We have terrorists, rapists, goons, and dacoits sipping coffee in jails and our parliament, but here we are setting fire to the replica of a demon who actually was a great worshipper of Ram himself.
7:00 p.m.: It’s a pleasant winter evening, and as I stroll back home from the ‘Burn Grounds’, I decide to pay a visit to the departmental store now. I can complete my weekly shopping in peace; thanks to the Ravan who burns to ashes and the people who are now gulping prasad (offerings to ‘God’) while witnessing the fire show. Tired and hungry as I am (trotting up and down a store helps you burn calories), I go to the local vendor who sells frankies – our colloquial name for rolls and wraps. A boy of fifteen gives me these pearls of wisdom – ‘Madam, every year people spend so much on burning the Ravan. Where does all that money come from? I am trying to convert this make shift shop of mine into a permanent one, bahot bada nahi Madam, choti si dukaan (not a very big shop Madam, a small one) but no bank is lending me money neither is anyone helping me to get a loan.
When I read the lines above, does it ring a bell? It does. Why? I can relate myself to the ‘you know who’ in the latest lighthearted read by Twinkle Khanna, Mrs Funnybones. She believes that nothing is sacred than laughter, and with her self-deprecating humor she makes you smile at every page that you turn. She picks on everything from her name to the man of the house to her prodigal son and her baby to her dear mom to her mom-in-law to the numerous people she meets every day at work to the leaders of the country and the entertainers of the society. She identifies with every urban woman who runs the daily chores of life, goes to work, and deals with people in and out of her family, her own and by law both. This urban woman encounters situations as described in the beginning of this blog post wherein her agony comes out as satirical musings sometimes or ends with an emotional thought or two at other times.
Mrs Funnybones lends you a kaleidoscope through which you can look at life in its various nuances. She makes you realize that with each passing day we are growing old, and with that we are learning sundry things right from the circumstances and people surrounding us. So, with our learning curves rising to the peak, we are also becoming younger in our own peculiar ways. As are hairs get grey, and those lines of wrinkles start showing up, we fail to remember that they are the result of so much learning that we have amassed over all these years. And what use is all this erudition if we cannot pass it on? After all the sole purpose of evolution is to pass on the best that we know. She can actually be accredited for passing her wisdom in her unique way. She is a modern mother and yet not a preacher or imposer of her thoughts on her children. She is not proving anything to them, letting them choose their actions, and yet protecting them from anything that can malign their innocence. She laughs her heart out when they fall, and she also picks them up while rubbing a note or two into their brains.
There was a lot of reality check while reading this book, and quite a bit of hindsight. It may be owing to two reasons – one being the fact that Mrs Funnybones is a lot like any present-day woman out there or that the ‘me’ within myself relates to her thoughts. For example, she says that there is a difference between trying and holding on or when she says that life is like flying a kite wherein there will be turbulent times in its motion but don’t let go or when she says that love is imperfectly perfect or when she looks on to the festivities at her in-laws’, and ponders that most women are a misfit who enter families that are so different from theirs or when she is at the verge of crying because her toddler is driving her crazy or when she is venting out the most scornful remarks with an inkling of sarcasm after a hard day at work. The fact that she sounds like an ordinary real woman keeps you hooked on to the book. She has touched almost every fabric of life right from being named ‘Twinkle’ (a story that many can relate to for being bestowed with non-acceptable names!) to dealing with the herculean issues after getting married (yes we have the stories of those thirsty fasts and not feeding the husband enough) to the sulking that all daughters suffer at the hands of their moms being so ‘awesome’ at so many occasions to the fears of every mother with regards to their growing children to the nostalgia of teen and college life adventures that strikes all of us at some point of time to the horrifying days at work to bearing with the most stupid acts put up by maids, house helps, those far-away cousins and acquaintances, to the taboos that haunt our country (yes there are tales of the ‘Whisper’ being wrapped in those clandestine packets)!
Mrs Funnybones touches the subtle shades of life that we all experience in one form or another. Her writing is like fresh air – she breaks all the stereotypes, and yet sounds so ordinarily extraordinary. And they were saying, ‘so much intelligence for an actress!’ Buy your copies today, and you will learn to laugh at yourself, at those moments that tend to make you impulsive and snap at the spot, at those days when you felt that life couldn’t be worse! Laughter is the best therapy, and when armored with wits and intelligence, you will grow wiser with your chuckles, and look at life with an unblemished view.