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Review – “Grow up Messy!” by Paromita Goswami

Grow up Messy! by Paromita Goswami is the tale of a Bong child, Misry aka Messy, a little 5 yo, and her exploits in and around the places her army dad is posted. The story set in the 1980s is divided into 3 parts, each giving a description of the girl’s stay at the border outpost, the headquarters, and her dadu’s house.


Misry, is the daughter of Madhavi and Anurag, an officer in the BSF. Currently, Anurag is posted at the border outpost in West Bengal, with only his family in the camp along with his jawans. Misry, being the only child there, is upset because she doesn’t have friends to play with. The kids from the village wouldn’t take into her gang as she is an amateur in climbing trees and swimming. And if it helps, she tends to mess things up, always, which is why the village kids name her Messy. One day, when the children from the village decide to steal amiyas from the landlord’s farm, Messy accompanies them, only to wander off, and start stealing from the baskets kept near the watchmen, to help the gang by doing something, since she can’t climb trees. But, the watchman wakes up, and chases them all, and Messy is blamed. Realizing she won’t be welcomed in the gang anymore, Misry starts spending time in her home, getting bored. She decks up like a bride one day, and her parents can’t help but think that she is growing too fast. Another time, she finds a little goat kid in her backyard, unknowing that it’s for the puja sacrifice, and gets attached to it. When it is taken away, she falls ill and doesn’t recover until the goat kid is brought back. She plans with her Pallavi mashi to learn swimming in the river, and when she takes her there, she doesn’t listen and ventures deep, starts drowning and struggles, but her father saves her. It is then that the village kids ask her to join their gang, and say good things to her. Now that all is well, Anurag gets transferred back to the headquarters, taking along his family with him.
At her new home, while Madhavi is happy to have the basic necessities back, Misry misses her village friends. Soon enough, she finds herself in the gang again with Honey and Boney, sons of another BSF officer co-residing in the same campus as them. She starts school with them and is happy. But Misry has acquired a bad habit, whenever she finds herself losing, she spits on her opponent. During one such fight on the school bus, she misses her aim, and the spit lands on Honey, who rages on her, and instead of apologizing, she blames him for being at the wrong place! She is scolded by the principal when Honey complains, and he threatens to tie her up in the storeroom for the complete day when she spits on him too. This scares her and she promises to never repeat the bad habit ever. At Honey’s place after the patch up, which happens to be her fav, Misry gets attached to his little sister, all of 3 years and still not speaking. She cajoles her and makes her talk, though she talks only to Misry. While Misry loves the little child, she wants one for herself too and requests her father to get her one, who will be her copy. Anurag comforts her by saying that he will discuss it with her mother and let her know. Her happiness knows no bounds on the prospect of her very own talking doll! And all this while when our Messy was messing around, Madhavi conceives. Soon, they have to travel to her parent’s place, for her sister, Pallavi’s wedding.
Misry never realized that the love of her dadu and dida will be divided between her and her cousins. She feels intimidated by her diva cousins Ria and Dia, while she herself is a tomboy. The feelings of jealousy creep into her, and she at times, gets upset. But the love of her grandparents never ceases for her, even when she steals the gur from the store room or pushes her old dadu into the lake for spanking her, as she refused to listen to him and stole the berries. One day, when the people from all the neighboring houses were assembled at their place, to watch the movie on the new TV set brought by Madhavi, Misry finds a man sitting in the verandah. Wanting him to come inside too, Misry calls him but her dadu stops and asks the guy his name. It is then he realizes that he was a thief and had stopped to watch the film. Everyone praises the little girl for her presence of mind, though the thief runs away. Pallavi’s wedding takes place in all it’s best, and it is time for all to depart. Teary-eyed, they bid farewell.
Back at the headquarters, Anurag is posted to the north of India for some time. Meanwhile, Madhavi goes into labour and delivers a sweet little girl whom Misry starts adoring, but soon gets sad seeing that the doll is getting more attention than her. She wants to flatten her nose like hers, but is stopped from doing so by everyone thinking that she is harming the baby. When Madhavi comes to know Misry’s intentions, she explains that both of them are made from the same mold and are the same, she gets happy.
Misry’s mischief gets a break here, at the end of Book 1.


Memories of one’s childhood are the most cherished and given a chance, one definitely would like to relive them. This book by the author, is a beauty, with the protagonist being a mischievous 5 yo girl, one can only expect laughter and fun. Misry’s character is adorable, you want to scold her for her naughtiness but are taken away by her innocence. The girl is stubborn as well as intelligent beyond her years. Her emotions are aptly described. Her parents do a good job in inculcating values in her via bedtime stories and moral lessons. They want her to grow up, for when she is naughty and tires them out and do not want her to grow, for when she is all cute and sweet – the “dharm sankat” for all the parents. Each chapter, in fact, is a short story with important teaching in itself for Messy, comprising her anecdotes in a scene/situation, while allowing the reader to take a break, without disturbing the flow, and revel in the lightness of the just read episode. 
One can simply not wait to turn the page and find out what mess Messy is going to create next. It is one of those adult’s children read – children stories for adults who have lost their inner child, the ability to make friends at the first chance and patching up quickly after a fallout, the ability to forgive and forget easily, be happy in the littlest of things, and above all, live life, with the outlook of an untarnished kid. Grow up Messy!, gives life lessons to all, to live like a child, and be happy.
Being a Masi to a little 2 yo niece myself, I can very well imagine what she’ll grow up to be in a couple of years, and frankly, I’m quite looking forward to it now! Suggested to all the parents out there, and the non-parents, who can probably relate to it by the means of being an aunt or an uncle, and also to anybody, who would like to revisit their, or their children’s childhood once more.

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