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 it.
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 book.
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 and purposes.
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.
I smile and I think.
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 has.
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 country.
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 this book.
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 about it.
For me, reading ‘Kos Kos Shabdkosh’ is like building a vocabulary of related Hindi terms and I enjoyed the exercise.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/