The Legend Always Stays!


written by Shreya at in category Book review with 17 Comments


“Things have a way of turning up when they want to be found, though they may not always be the things you actually want to find.”
― Twinkle Khanna, The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad

Soon post her book Mrs Funnybones, Twinkle Khanna came with another book just within a year. It can be taken as a surprise that people actually like the tone of the book she writes. Maybe people praise her because of her being an actress-famous and then how she turned into a writer. She has been writing her column in the newspaper which is funny, sharp and up to the mark.

After writing her many columns, she began to write her novel, named Mrs Funnybones. It looks okay to write 700 words column. But turning that into a book can be overwhelming. It’s a whole different ball game to write 26 columns published as a single volume, and ensure each is as interesting as the last. Frankly, what seemed a breeze to read once a week was more than a little trying to get through in one book.

The book was yet again an easy read just like her earlier book. The book is a compilation of short stories on women making her their mark in respective life. The short stories are all about the feministic approach that has been taken by the protagonist of the story. The book is 287 pages in length and consists of four separate stories: “The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad”, “Salaam, Noni Appa”, “If The Weather Permits” and “The Sanitary Man From A Sacred Land”.

 “The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad” is about a young girl called Lakshmi who changes the way women are treated in her village. “Salaam, Noni Appa” is about an old lady called Noni and her sister, and the man Noni finds love with. “If The Weather Permits” is about a young girl called Elisa and her quest for contentment, and just being left in peace. And the fourth – which is the longest as well as the most trying with its length of 150 pages – is about a man who isn’t particularly educated and who creates an affordable sanitary napkin because he wants to improve the lives of the women in both his immediate family and beyond. Obviously, “The Sanitary Man From A Sacred Land” is based on the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham.

But the unfortunate part is that the story is not on the line. The protagonist are all into their feminism, all the stories that are given in the book have a happy ending even if some of the other people die.

Yet, even though she’s got these two easy hooks with which to bait a reader’s attention (particularly a woman reader like yours truly), you never really feel involved in The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad. The characters don’t make you sympathise or empathise. For instance, in “If The Weather Permits”, which is the weakest in the collection, you don’t care if the main character, Elisa, lives or dies. She seems to have no purpose in her life, other than to not love the men she marries. She doesn’t work, she doesn’t look after her home or her parents’ home, she’s not funny or entertaining or even morose. She’s just one of the many whom you wouldn’t miss if they were gone. Much like the story itself.

The writing also suffers from a lack of editorial insight: it’s too floridly descriptive. There are sentences such as, “Elisa’s father…sat in the first pew holding on to his Christianity like he was the weary custodian of the last crumbling communion wafer.” And then there are the moments of a rash of adjectives further inflamed by philosophy: “Women have been looking for a cape and have been handed an apron for centuries. But here was a man who wanted to help women swing their apron around, let it flutter down their backs and watch them soar through the clear blue skies.” If only she and her editor had remembered that basic tenet of writing: keep it simple.    

What Khanna does get right is her tone. There’s also promise in the characters she conceives, even though they needed to be better fleshed out. Whether it is Lakshmi, the young feminist in her village; or Noni, the reluctant ageing lover, they are all interesting ideas. Sadly, they’re left a little blurry around the edges, almost as if Khanna had to rush through the story. Both Lakshmi Prasad and Noni’s stories would have made for entertaining novellas. But therein lies the curse of the short story: you have to keep it short.

For a first-time collection of fiction though, it’s a good effort. Still, Khanna’s strength evidently lies in non-fiction and commentary, rather than in fiction. Her trademark wit and tongue-in-cheek comments are missing in this collection of stories. That’s particularly sad because it’s such an integral part of her writer's charm as a columnist.

 

HAPPY READING! *at your own risk.

Rating: 3 outta 5

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