Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 05/16/13 11:20 AM

Humour: On writing a book

A Suitable Profession
The Book Fair put the idea into Mona’s head. India’s Suitable Boy fuelled the flames.
Which is how Mona became a state-of-the-art writer. She acquired a permanent ink smudge
on her retrousse nose and tucked a gold-embossed pen behind one shell-shaped ear.
The day I went to see her, she was sitting a rosewood desk cooing at a dictaphone.
Ever one for the banal q, I asked her what she was doing. “Trying to write a book, darling, that is, if you will let me,“ she replied with careless charm.
 “Oh,” I said blankly, “What is it about?”
“That I have not decided yet,“ she told me loftily. “When inspiration comes, it comes. You don’t  look for plot, theme, or substance,“ she informed me sweetly.
“But Mona,“ I protested, “you must have some idea.“
“Of course I do, sweetie,“ she trilled. “It is set in Saidapet, moves to Somwarpet, and from there to Surat. It’s about a maami in search of a suitable…“
“A suitable boy?“ I gasped. Nothing about Mona usually surprises me but this blatant plagiarism was too much, even for her.
“No, silly, Vikram Seth has already done that,“ she told me kindly. “This is all about the search for a suitable suite. It’s kind of a thriller,“ she said vaguely.
“What kind of thriller,“ I asked with a straight face. “Well,“ she lilted, “there will be a maami, a swami, a film star with an AK-420 and a politician who breeds rabbits.“
I was dazzled by the ingenuity of such a story-line. “They love my book, darling,“ she gurgled.
“Who,“ I asked, startled.
“Oh, the publishers, the talk-show hosts, everyone. Do you know, Salman called it a masala mix!“
It was clear she took that as a compliment. But I was impressed, despite myself. “Salman Rushdie?“ I asked in awed tones.
“Salman Khan,“ she chided me, in reply.
A thought struck me. “How can everyone love your book, Mona, it’s not out yet, is it,“ I asked naively.
She gave me a pitying look. “Where have you been, honey? Reams and reams have been written
about me, my literary influences and the colour of my doggie’s leash. I’m appearing soon on a TV panel discussion on writer’s block. And a deal for film rights is in the offing. God, it’s a hectic life, that of an author.“
The phone rang just then. Mona fixed an appointment for a photo shoot by the poolside of
a local luxury hotel.
“So when is your book due for release,  Mona,“ I queried eagerly.
“Darling, I haven’t started writing it yet. Before I set down the words, I’ve got to decide
whether it will be a long poem in prose or prose in rhyme. Or maybe proesy…poetry in prose. Or…“
Proesy? I crept away, leaving the celebrated author wresting with these monumental



Sheila Kumar • May 16, 2013

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