Soni Aggarwal reviews Twinkle Khanna’s new book The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad
After guffawing my way through Mrs Funnybones, The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad came as something of a revelation. I went in expecting humour and what I got was four narratives written in a deceptively simple manner, each with its very own distinct and powerful message.
It took me about three paragraphs to get completely drawn into the book after the initial surprise and if I were to be completely honest, disappointment of discovering that it was a more serious genre of writing, than I had stereotypically assumed.
The “various bits of Twinkle Khanna’ s mind ” as she so quizzically describes her collection of short stories, show her deep awareness and understanding of the trials and tribulations that face the lives of so many women in India from time immemorial.
Her narrative brings every character to life, giving us an impressively well curated description of every last vivid detail required by us to fast forward quite literally into their world.
The protagonists are very varied, all are aged differently and cover different religious and social backgrounds. Lakshmi, the gangly teenage girl who watches her elder sister s humiliation at the hands of her greedy dowry demanding in laws The fury and despair propel her towards finding a simple but effective solution that goes on to help every little girl born in her village for generations to come.
Lonely, sixty eight year old and widowed, Nonni Apa lives in very urban Mumbai. She decides to set aside convention and find companionship in Anand Ji, who is five years younger, married, severely henpecked and unhappy. He goes from being her yoga instructor to the best friend who moves in when a near brush with death makes them realize that they are infinitely grateful to be bound together by age and circumstances in a way that they never felt bound to, by any religion.
Elisa Thomas, who ‘s marriage obsessed parents, want her to remain chained to a ganja smoking mentally disturbed unemployed Chacko, because he is from their community and they believe that a woman is incomplete without a man by her side.
Bablu Kewat who shuns the shame attached to menstruation,and is socially ostracized and abandoned by his wife and family for pursuing his dream of finding a low cost solution that enables poor women to use sanitary pads. Ironically, he is eventually the most conventional when he reunites with the wife who deserted him, out of a sense of responsibility. Years later he sacrifices a wonderfully fulfilling and respectful friendship with his English tutor, a single mother, in order to fulfil his commitments to a family that only looked for him again , when he had found fame and fortune. This conventionality, does however stem from the fact that this is a fictionalised version of a true story and and presumably one cannot change the ending !
For all the gravity of the subject, you will find yourself smiling often and sometimes even laughing out loud. Only Twinkle Khanna, can introduce a new character into a story with “He sat in the first pew, holding on to his Christianity like he was the weary custodian of the last crumbling communion wafer.” With that I rest my case ! This book is about hope and courage, about taking that leap of faith, about breaking societal norms, about changing your circumstances and taking responsibility, about finding yourself and finding happiness.
A truly magical and inspiring read in all its simplicity .