The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna is a compilation of 4 distinct short stories, one of them being inspired by real life. I picked up this book based on the credibility of the author’s column and her first novel, and also because lately, I want immediate gratification, therefore, short stories. I found myself giving it a mixed response, a bit glad that I picked this up and a little, why!!!?
1. The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad – A village, no longer considers the birth of a girl child as a bane, instead, they celebrate the little girl! And this is possible all because of a young girl, who, with her presence of a sharp mind and a caring heart, gives a solution – plant 10 mango trees whenever a girl child is born in her name, it will grow along with her and when the time comes, all the profits from the fruits of that tree will be the girl’s to use – for her education, marriage, leisure or whatever.
2. Salaam, Noni Appa – A 68 yo falls for a man, a little younger than herself, who happens to be her yoga teacher and reciprocate her feelings as well. While she is escaping a lonely life of a widow, he is running away from his chaotic marriage, their love is a gradual process, from initial companionship to friendship to finally realizing the need of each other in their lives, they defy all social norms and come together for themselves, to be with each other.
3. If The Weather Permits – A girl marries 5 times, 3 times to the person of her choice, and when that marriage fails, twice to the person her parents select, which also turns out to be a dud. Elisa was never happy with her marriages, having married guys who were psychos, and wanted to end their life, it is Elisa who ends up paying with her life, but as a single woman, belonging only to herself.
4. The Sanitary Man from a Sacred Land – It takes courage to come out and talk about topics that have been made a taboo in our society, but when a man challenges them, it is awe-inspiring. The journey of a man, which begins from wanting his wife to be happy and stay safe from diseases during her menstruation (for she uses a cloth) becomes a dream, to provide hygienic sanitary pads to millions of women all over the country, at a nominal price while also making them self-sufficient by letting them run their own pad making business.
All the 4 stories are unrelated in every aspect, except that they provide a good read. The diversity in them makes the book stand apart from the other short stories collection, where mostly, the stories revolve around a central theme, making the read monotonous at times. The stories are written in a simple yet captivating method, having the ability to entice both beginners and pros in the English language.
I found the title story the best, an idea, and the solution to one of our country’s biggest malice. How beautifully the protagonist finds the most simplistic of solutions to a monstrous problem, that too with multiple benefits! The story of Noni Appa seemed slow and kept dragging, and frankly, I thought of skipping it, but my reviewing ethics didn’t let me. Despite it not being a terrific read, Noni Appa did give a remarkable view on love, “Na umra ki seema ho, na janm ka ho bandhan, jab pyaar kare koi, to dekhe kewal mann”. I was looking forward to reading the third story, but it was the most disappointing, it was nothing that I had expected after reading the blurb, the weather doesn’t even play a role in the weddings of Elisa and the 5 weddings are not to 5 different men, they are basically weddings in different ways, as per the religion. I felt cheated off a really good plot that could have been. The last story of the sanitary man, I had heard of it way back, via social media, but reading it as a fictional story was quite different. The emotions of a man, trying hard to make his wife happy and keep her safe, are very well depicted, when he is outlawed by all. Living the life of a pariah was acceptable to him, but giving up on his dream was not. His determination and courage are commendable which makes him reach his destination.
The striking factor of all the stories is that despite being fictional, they all seem realistic, like it could happen to anyone, in fact, it may have happened to someone. They are down to earth stories and characters, without the flamboyance of happily ever afters.