You can't debate satire. Either you get it
or you don't.
(According to the Brainy Quote)
And I got it....but in my own way.
A book in your language with an interesting
subject matter, now that hasn't happened with me in a long time.
Until this book happened.
Last year, from the Delhi International
Book Fair, I purchased many Hindi language satires but I couldn't read beyond a
few short stories and Srilal Shukla's 'Raag Darbari'. But when I had my hands
on this book, I could not resist the temptation of reading it and writing on
Because I knew the person as a human-being,
as an author and above all, as a senior.
'Kos Kok Shabdkosh' by Rakesh Kayasth ji or
Rakesh sir that I address him is an aptly worded book of thick proportions and
is hilariously stinging with its satire and the thing about it is, it touches
aspects of our day-to-day lives, intrinsically a part of us, whether we care
for, or we don’t care for, or we have to care for. It speaks volumes for it.
Situations in the book are from real life
and characters have their presence in our routine thus. Accordingly, the
expressions are real life. In a thought-provoking way that we may think, that
we may not think, that we have to think.
I have spent time with him and I know a bit
about him. I also try to write and I know one has to live the experiences, in a
possible way, in any possible way – thinking, feeling, living, observing – to
write about them.
And Rakesh sir did it with an élan that
made me sit with his book and finish it once I got free. It was thoughtful, the
way I look back on after reading it. And it basically arises of the fact that I
can correlate with the themes deliberated upon in the book.
Satire is a beautifully meticulous art
where we say everything, where we see every one naked metaphorically, where we
write about everyone in a similar vein. It may be subtle or it may direct. But
it hits hardest, with a thought-provoking theme that runs along.
It is an art form – a very serious art. I
knew Rakesh sir had a fine grip over it and therefore, I was waiting for this
It talks about our day to day lives the way
we experience. His 43 themes are events in our lives that we always notice,
that we cannot run away from, if we have the grey-matter. They are situational
reports impregnated with dose of satire that locks you with a smile. And while
smiling, you also start thinking - a way to go for a work of satire.
He writes with a blend that is natural,
that is every day, taking us from the high of a laugher to a high of smile to
the high of thinking.
The book includes varied experiences that
we live every day, days that make for our weeks – personal and professional –
the many lives we live.
He starts from the ubiquitous trait in
every one’s life. He begins saying ‘execrating someone and finding to execrate
someone and eating’ are essential to humanity – a work that everyone is engaged
in. These are so basic and evergreen activities that we do it naturally - day
after day - and seldom think about.
Going by the human nature – it is so
perfectly said here – a perfect beginning for a satire setting the tone. And it
goes on well and it ends well.
On storytelling front, he begins with the
perfectionism of bosses, that is all acceptable. Questioning them is like
questioning the ethos of the day. He talks about regularity and daily chores of
meetings, eternity and universality of foolishness, versatility of having
alternatives, ephemeral relevance of a parliament in a democracy of the day in
the times we are living in, secularity and non-partisan methodology of a Lokpal
that is yet to be institutionalized, linguistic formations of the
mother-tongue, Gangetic flow of riots, amenability of employability, usability
of the common-man and the wealth that generated commonly for uncommon people
Every day routine with elements that happen
in our professional lives, shaping or messing with our personal lives. Irrespective
of we think or we do not think, we constantly meet with such elements.
On the way, he picks up the thread of life
in a liquor bottle that is never to be lent out. His words give us the
everlasting wisdom of a black & white life that is always grey and tries to
find its meaning in any possible way, on any possible platform – in different
activities, in different attachments, on different stages and in different
phases of life - in life’s intricacies, in life’s simplicities, in its
etiquettes, in its methods - in life’s compromises, in life’s sacrifices, in
life’s attitude towards living it and in life’s derelictions.
Smiles, laughter – these are boons for life
and Rakesh sir reiterates it in his own style contracted to the blessings of
life outwitting the effects of a low life and of bad days.
His to-the-pointedness is immaculate when
he writes about utility and futility of the likes of Tejpal and their presence
and absence in social parlance. Yes, the magnetism of being relevant is always
on the lips, like it is being locked there, never to dissolve.
Reaching out to someone to making someone
reach out to us may be seen from any perspective. It may have similar or
opposing connotations based on life itself. Universality of someone’s greatness
is judged by it and is not judged by it – again based on the living the person
Like written in a related post, I used to
discuss Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation with Rakesh sir and once
visited the Ramlila Ground with him after the work. I personally feel betrayed
by Arvind Kejriwal now and I loved the way he has written about him, though the
book is written well before his second term in Delhi. He is a living example of
fall from grace, losing the essentiality of the element of doubt that was
there, giving him an upper hand over the others.
His touch in his words is natural, coming
from the experiences on developments in life. He reflects on elements happening
in lives of Indians - forming the society, forming its polity and forming this
If we have to live, we need to relieve
ourselves. Yes, we would laugh on this basic observation, but we would accept
that it is basic to the living. Like darning someone, eating and relieving
oneself is basic to human existence and so satire that runs through these
lines, pinched us. It is refreshing to read how politics is one of these basic
needs of life and how politics believes in giving us a reflection rather than
the real thing - much like the reflection of brand commoditised politically and
the viability of a commercially brand.
It's the matter of baseline and a baseline
is always subjective, based on individual preference. People may see it in the
mindset because it so individualist, so what if it is almost universal in
India. Rakesh sir believes (and most of
us believe) that politicians know the art of levitating people's hopes to win
elections, to win the war of sentiments. Being an affluent or being a poor,
being a commoner, or even being a terrorist - the baseline is always there -
open to individual interpretations - interpretations that are manipulated most
of the time.
When he raises the point of playing the
national anthem in cinema halls before a movie, he finds many friends there,
unlike the ones who are proposing the whole country to get cleaned. This is a
mindset problem and requires long and 'honest' efforts. These are basically
about thoughts first and no 'photoshop' is permitted there. After all, commoners
usually have not the mercurial temperament like a politician that is adept in
stabilizing quickly - based on circumstances.
So far, I have already seen many elements of
the book in my day to day life, beautifully (and stingingly) given words.
And to end the book, Rakesh sir chooses the
subjects, that are again relevant and are happening in real time. He writes on
the 'selfie fad' in one of the world's most rapidly developing mobile and mobile-internet
market and his satire deliberates on its socio-political implications. Dussehra
inspires him to write on a universal malaise inside, that how we see ourselves
sacrosanct, that how we refuse to see the bad inside us accordingly. For us (or
most of us), evil is not in us. We find a way to say that 'we are all good.
It's not about the subject matter that
differentiates an author. It's about the treatment that places him in a
separate league. And Rakesh sir's book is an example of it. He has shaped this
book from his experiences and observations of day to day life. Routine can
become a source of joy as well he shows us once again, provided we try to go
the extra mile beyond the routine.
Yes, it's been some years that I spoke with
him, yet he is one of the few persons I admire. And like I always do, like many
things, I am thinking over Rakesh sir's work, carrying a self-assessment of it to debate it, even if Michael Moore
says that ‘satire cannot be debated’.
What I think a piece of satire or a whole
work on it is debatable. A good work is basically about introspection and
observation and the subsequent correlation and there are ample takeaways from
It is like visiting him personally while
reading the book because I know him as a human-being. I know about the goodness
of Hindi as it is my mother-tongue. And of all genres of Hindi, I like satire
the most. And I place this book in my league.
What I think he has given us a refreshing
book on a subject so basic to us. It is in human nature – criticizing others.
Sometime, it becomes a necessity. Sometime, it is all about entertaining our
strained souls. Sometime, it is driven by a reason. Sometime, it is
self-inflicted. Sometime, it is for fun simply.
Like most of the things in life, it is not
without reasons. We imprecate/execrate/darn something or someone all the time.
But we seldom think of a book, something
that Rakesh sir thought. And moreover, he went beyond thinking. He wrote a book
For me, reading ‘Kos Kos Shabdkosh’ is like
building a vocabulary of related Hindi terms and I enjoyed the exercise.