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Zarreen Khan’s book Koi Good News? is the story of the Great Indian Baby Tamasha that happens in any married Indian woman’s life. Soon to be adapted into a movie.
Marriages, they say, are made in heaven. Well, so are thunder and lightning. A wise woman once remarked: whether you’ve been married a year or several, it is an Indian marriage that is most frightening.
The blurb says: When Mona Mathur of Dehradun married her college sweetheart, Ramit Deol of Amritsar, there were two things she wasn’t prepared for:
1. The size of the Deol family which put any Sooraj Barjatya movie to shame.
2. The fertility of the Deol family which had them reproducing faster than any other species known to mankind.
It has now been four years since their wedding, and Mona and Ramit have done the unthinkable – they have remained childless. Of course, that also means that they’ve battled that one question day in and day out: ‘Koi Good News?’ It doesn’t matter that they have been happy to be child-free. They are married; they are expected to make babies. After all, there are grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, and even colony aunties in waiting.
Now, the truth is, Ramit and Mona had been trying to conceive for the past one year. But having a baby isn’t as easy as it’s made out to be. Finally, aided by the wine at their highly glamorous neighbours’ party, Mona gets pregnant. And so begins a crazy journey – complete with interfering relatives, nosy neighbours, disapproving doctors, and absolutely no privacy at all!
Author Zarreen Khan returns with her second novel that takes you on a hilarious journey through a highly publicized pregnancy in a typical Indian marriage, one that is replete with the khatta-meetha, kadva-teekha, masaaledar-dhamakedar, tadakta-bhadakta drama that comes with it, all over a baby.
Koi Good News? is really Mona’s story. Dealing with the constant questioning is enough to drive her insane, especially when comparisons with other members on the Deol family tree, who are popping babies out like a popcorn maker, are drawn. Then again, the Deols don’t have a family tree, but a family forest. Nonetheless, she strives to grin and bear the intrusive remarks, not only from her mother-in-law, but also every relative hanging on like a leaf on a tree branch.
Even so, a story about a much talked about pregnancy cannot be all about the mother, can it? The father, who likes to keep his nose in his mobile to avoid the daily soap opera around him, soon finds out he isn’t as impervious as he imagined. As pressure begins to build and tension mounts, he gradually starts evolving from being the husband who couldn’t be bothered, to finding his dad-to-be self embroiled in an FBI-like interrogation with his mother. Suffice to say that the awkward discussions involving their sex life and Mona’s menstrual cycles leave his mother fuming and Ramit turning several shades of pink.
The fact that this Great Indian Baby Tamasha starts at a wedding in Amritsar is in itself a sign of serious danger looming over Mona’s head.
Khan adds another dash of spice to her story telling in the narrative style she chooses. The chapters are divided by weeks – starting from four weeks before LMP (last menstrual period) going up to the time of delivery. At the beginning of each chapter, which is named by week number in the gestation period, are scraps of pregnancy related body changes that the mom-to-be should expect. As Mona learns along the way, thanks to her interfering Bua, the constant heads-up is more terrifying than calming.
The narrative itself is in the form of journal entries, alternating between Mona and Ramit’s point of view. What makes it rip-roaring funny is that their entries read like a telepathic conversation between husband and wife. Khan brings in various characters with their individual eccentricities and captures every tiny emotion pushed to the surface, with her nuanced writing.
There is no doubt that the author’s comedic timing is spot on. Mona’s hormonal changes seem to affect Ramit in ways he is unable to fathom, leaving him perplexed as to his role in the entire scheme of things. The hilarity that ensues is what gives the novel a great big push to the top. And the fact that it is paired with a story that gives a real and honest account of surviving a pregnancy in an Indian marriage (which already comes with its own quirks), makes it an absolute chartbuster.
So, if you’re in the mood for an uproariously fun, light-hearted and quick read to carry along on your vacation, or to curl up with on a lonely weekend, get yourself a copy of Koi Good News? Just don’t hold me responsible if this book review changes your mind about having babies in the near future.
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Top image via shutterstock and book cover via Amazon
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