Twinkle Khanna writes so beautifully that you read her words slowly, relishing them, enjoying them and rolling over them till a radiant smile gets imprinted on your face. Her control of language and her choice of words display an exceptional poise for a prose writer, making you wonder why she spent those forgettable years in the film industry. By her own admission, that part of her life has long been boxed away. Good for us!
Else, the writer in her would not have been discovered, which shines like a twinkling star with this debut book. Her astute observations do not spare anybody, be it the babbling rickshaw-wallah or the man of the house, or be it the stubborn canine or the eccentric mothers. Holding multiple portfolios – a home maker, an interior decorator, a star’s wife and a valued daughter-in-law – and still being able to amuse herself is a curious case of taking life as it comes, one day at a time. And she has allowed her self-deprecating wits to get the better of her.
She lets you feel relaxed as she takes on some of the compelling concerns of most daughter-in-laws. Far from being mama’s boys, says she, Indian husbands worship their mothers because they have seen cows being worshipped all over. For her, nothing is more sacred in life than ‘laughter’ and nothing is free in life except ‘bad advice’. Yet, she avoids being preachy as she goes about discovering the amusing aspects of everyday existence.
Mrs. Funnybones is an exercise in self-discovery nonetheless. It is unlike most run-of-the-mill-humor stuff as it is intelligently laced with nuggets of reflections on life-matters. Reflecting on the suicide by two teenagers, the author wonders if we ever try to teach our children that it is okay to fail in life. Isn’t life just like flying kite? Sometimes it flies effortlessly, and sometimes it is tough to keep it afloat. Life is all about waiting for the wind to change in your favor and once it does, don’t let it go.
Twinkle comes out as an intelligent critic too, taking a shot at our deeply ingrained perception around rituals. Talking about the annual torturous fast for women, called Karva Chauth, that is performed in order to magically lengthen the life of their other halves, she wonders if female of its species does it for the tortoise who without doubt outlives all of us. And more often than not, it is the women who have longer lifespan!
But women are often at the receiving end of men’s follies! For being asked to open the top button of her husband’s jeans as he walked down the ramp – as part of the advertising gimmick – she was served a police notice for indecent behaviour in public. She wonders why opening a single top button became the crime of the century, when scores of men publicly unbutton or unzip to pull out their dangling bits to irrigate all kinds of walls on offer. Hypocrisy gets a perfect kick on the ass, as she doesn’t leave anything for another day.
One hopes that Mrs. Funnybones is a work-in-progress, with more to tumble out of it.
by Twinkle Khanna
Penguin, New Delhi
Extent: 235, Price: Rs. 299
This review was first published in the Deccan Herald, September 27, 2015