Tuesday, 16 August 2011

“When Mira Went Forth And Multiplied” by Shinie Antony - Book Review

What happens when "Bridget Jones’s Diary" is written in prose that is comparable to Catch 22’s? A little over three years ago, when I reviewed Antony’s short story collection “Séance on a Sunday Afternoon”, I had found it simple, stark, rapid and at times vulgar. In her latest work When Mira Went Forth And Multiplied, Antony’s prose has matured and mellowed like vintage wine. The sharpness of tongue, the extra-ordinary ability to appreciate minutiae, the quick turn of phrase not unlike an excellent swordsman flicking his wrist to score a direct hit, the astounding ability to mention unmentionables with a deadpan expression, they are all there, but in a much improved form.

When Mira Went Forth And Multiplied is chick-lit. Any doubt on that score is washed away shortly after the novel begins when Mira’s friend tells her ‘You know what’s sadder than saying I do to the wrong guy? Saying I don’t to the right. Bad girls are the new good girls, haven’t you heard?

Just like Bridget Jones, Mira is also in search of man and suffering as she looks around. We are told in Antony’s inimitable style that, ‘she grew pale and uninteresting, ate poorly and ailed deep in her heart, her hymen alone healthy as a horse.

When Mira prays, she asks, ‘Give me today my daily man.’ Or nightly. She wasn’t picky about the timing, Antony tells us.

When Mira finally has her affair, or rather a one-night stand, it is with much married Samundar Shah – Sam for short. Sam is henpecked and under pressure from various sides to have a baby with his wife Delta. When we hear Sam’s mother Leela-ben solicitously ask him ‘Is the baby juice going into her baby maker? we are left in no doubt that Leela-ben is worried that Sam and Delta haven’t got certain basics right.

Sam is not only henpecked, but is also a cuckold. His conversations with Delta are usually very entertaining.

‘Did you notice I’ve cut my hair shorter?

He smiled fondly. How could anyone cut their hair longer?

After a pause, she again turned to him with a determinedly zany smile, ‘Remember the first time you kissed me?’

‘Do you mean the first time we kissed or the first time I kissed you?’ Having had to take the lead in matters intimate from time immemorial with her, Sam always made it a point to record levels of participation.

‘What’s the difference?’ she asked losing some of the zany.

‘The first time we kissed, you kissed me,’ he pointed out triumphantly.’

After the one-night stand, Sam disappears and Mira pines for him, until she decides to take revenge. Mira’s actions result in Mira becoming very close to Delta and Leela-ben since they are all interested in Sam’s welfare. I would rather not say anything more and give away the plot, but do please read this fantastic book and find out how it all ends.

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