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Published on: 10/21/22 7:08 AM

Book review: Between You, Me and the Four Walls by Moni Mohsin

When gossip carries a sting

The queen of malapropisms is back in our midst, with the third iteration of the chatty outpourings of the Social Butterfly,  whose carefully curated gossip is, if you look hard, nothing but a sharp send-up of people, policies and lifestyles.

In this book,  Butterfly throws shade  on a lot of things and people: the Lahore Lit Fest, with all the befuddlement of one who doesn’t read; the knee-jerk tendency of her country`s government to ban anything and everything; Rahul Gandhi, who didn’t sweep away the full election but got to retain his seat of Methi; the Pakistani fauj and their side kinks, the  ISI; Imran Khan, over and over again; designer dogs like Choo Hahas; Asif Zardari who thinks he is King Looey building a Ver Sigh ka palace.

Sitting in her tony (but of course) `mention` in Lahore, respectful of the khaata peetas,  disdainful of Pakistan`s former First Lady the smooth sayer Pinky Peerni, patronising of the poors, Butterfly trains her Meow Meow  sunglasses  on everything she deems worthy of discussion. Her Oxen type hapless husband who studied at Brazen Nose College  is just one in a line-up of stuff that flapperghasts her, that includes Bill Gate, North Korya,  Hannibal Lecture from Silence of the Lamps, the generically mollified rats of Peshawar.

Among the few who get unbridled appreciation from her are SRK (“we all love him“) and Shobha Day, she of the good jeans, as well as Malala who won the Noble Cup. A moving tribute to Asma Jahangir and  a mock nostalgia piece on marshall law are especially sharp and funny.

Same as our lot!

Butterfly`s Indian friends might be the uber-wealthy of our country,  with properties in Mumbai, Goa, New York, those prone to fleeing home shores in  their jets when Covid  peaks here, but the underlying message is clear: that Indians and Pakistanis are basically humsayas (neighbours), trying their best to ford their political and economic morass, the autumn smock (smog), and suchlike.

In one droll passage,  she says: Some Indians…on Facebook are saying kay haw, if we don’t watch out, we will also become like Pakistan. I think so they mean they will also start carrying leather kay Birkings and listening to Ghulam Ali`s ghazals, producing fast bowlers… Chalo, it might make a pleasant change from thanking Moody all the time.

Between You, Me and the Four Walls. By Moni Mohsin. Penguin Books. Rs 299. 222 pages.

This appears in  The Hindu`s Sunday Magazine of 23 October 2022.

Related Links:

Book review: Return of the Butterfly by Moni Mohsin


Between You Me and the Four Wallsgossip with a stingMoni MohsinPakistani societyPenguin Bookssatiresend-up

Sheila Kumar • October 21, 2022

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