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Sunday, November 17, 2002
Books

Laughing at oneself
N. K. Oberoi

Fragile Realm
Hilarious Moments
both by Chetna Vaishnavi, International Research Institute, Delhi. Pages 80. Rs 200 and Pages 87. Rs 275 respectively.

FRAGILE Realm is about thorns one is likely to miss while one is infatuated with flowers. It is a bunch of "playlets" if one could call them so. By no stretch of speciousness are these "tragedies," as Chetna Vaishnavi claims.

Tragedy is a specific genre and has a structure and a literary form. It is not something amorphous, sad and depressing. These "playlets" do have a structure woven out of a wide range of encounters with the unexpected in the daily life of each one of us. The play A Thief deserves special mention for its dramatic treatment of what may not have made even a newspaper story. Do we not all run into situations in our daily life which we cannot describe as tragic or comic as they keep hanging in between?

*****

Hilarious Moments depict amusement that the writer has at others as well as at herself. The way she raises an unexpected laugh in situations that are not of her making is highly skilful and yet not deliberate. Where from this laughter comes one keeps guessing. The entry of the snake in her bathroom and its exit is fraught with undertones and overtones which she handles deftly.

 


She is at her scintillating best in Itís your Funeral Mam. The protagonist is dead set against taking an insurance policy and the insurance agent on foisting it. There ensues a fierce battle of wits, fierce for all its politeness at both the ends. In view of the inflation all around it would not be possible for you to without an insurance policy to meet the cost of your funeral is the plea of the insurance agent.

It is titillating enough, the idea itself that one could beat inflation by preparing for the eventuality. Chetna Vaishnavi deserves kudos for making it convincing as well.