About a fortnight ago, I happened to lay my eyes on a bookstore, and I was drawn inside it by some kind of magic. I spent a little more than an hour moving from one shelf to another, meanwhile colliding with people because I didn’t want to break eye contact with the book that I was staring at. When I realised that I am running short of time, I picked up Jhumpa Lahiri’s Lowland and moved towards the payment counter. That’s when I saw Twinkle Khanna’s The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad perched elegantly on a magazine shelf. Also, that week I happened to watch Koffee with Karan where Karan Johar was praising Ms. Khanna for her new literary venture. Now, people may call KJo what-not, I find him a perfectly poised, brave and a polished human being who has a heart. Valuing his opinion, I picked this as well, however, in my mind, I held a prejudice – the author is Twinkle Khanna – what are you expecting, I argued with myself. The book is priced at INR 299, this gave more reasons to my mind to cajole me into not buying it – you can buy a better book at this price, it said. I don’t know what made me stick to my choice, I bought this book. Once the purchase was done, many of my friends judged me by the choice of my book-buying – who reads Twinkle Khanna, they said. By now, my heart started revolting too, and I was like – why – why – why did I buy (this book)? I told the book, ‘you better be good’ and started reading it.
To my utter surprise, it turned out to be an overpowering read.
The language is easy to understand, the stories are real, the characters are strong, and overall the narrative seems to come out from the heart of the author. Although the writing style is not flowery, it manages to bring about a whirlwind of emotions in the reader’s heart/mind. There are 4 short stories – all of them have feminism as the theme – but none of them lectures the reader. Each story is how a short story should be – very crisp. It is very easy to find yourself looking at the story and feel the emotions of the characters, through her writing. One thing- if you are expecting Khanna’s tongue in cheek humour or her kickass sarcasm in this book, you will be disappointed. This book has substance; so much so, that for a while I thought is it really her work, or a ghost writer’s! What to do, I belong to this world where everyone judges another by outer appearance and preconceived notions. Although I might like her one liner or Tweets once in a while, I am not particularly a fan of her columns in the TOI. Hence, this book came as a fresh breath of air to me.
Women play the key characters in each of her stories.
From fighting patriarchy through common sense to finding love in old age to searching for love in multiple marriages, it covers a plethora of topics. But nowhere will you feel that she is moralising you about women empowerment. The theme seamlessly weaves itself with the characters and the plot. The reader will not hold radical thoughts (about an issue) after reading; each story has an ending that is far from conventionalism, sometimes dreamy. Even in the brief acquaintance with the characters, it is easy to comprehend their lives and thoughts. The longest of the four is a fictionalised version of Arunachalam Muruganantham’s life story. For those who have just arrived from Mars, he is the inventor of a low-cost sanitary pad making machine who was awarded Padma Shri by Government of India. His story evokes dreams.