Contributor: Amrita Mukherjee, Author
A close friend of mine is truly worried for me these days. His concerns are not unfounded though. He’s read my story The Dress Code which is part of the anthology Mock, Stalk and Quarrel, just now published by Readomania, after a competition was held on satirical short stories under the title Mocktales.
My friend said he laughed a lot after he read the story. I think Readomania Publisher Dipankar Mukherjee also did laugh when he picked up my entry, so did Editor of the book Indrani Ganguly. But my friend believes that despite the peals it brings forth there is a possibility of either brickbats or bouquets after people have read my story.
“And if there are brickbats you might have to run away,” he said over coffee to me one day, still laughing.
“Like Arunima, the protagonist of my story?” I asked him.
I didn’t mind actually. Arunima ran away to the US, I might just hole up in some log cabin in a faraway forest reveling in the fact that I am being persecuted for a story I wrote and making headlines for that. In the process I would get to do some serious writing that is usually impossible between my mom watching TV serials in the highest volume possible, my six-year-old son needing constant attention, my fingers wandering off to Whatsapp and Facebook involuntarily and a thousand other worldly worries clouding my mind.
Still imagining myself sitting in a forest home completely incommunicado, I told my friend, with the customary know-it-all attitude that’s a must wear accessory if you have to survive in today’s world, “You can’t write satire if you don’t take on the establishment.”
Even George Orwell, who wrote my all-time favourite satire Animal Farm, found it really tough to get his book published despite being an established journalist and author at that time. Since Orwell’s premise for the book was The Russian Revolution and through the allegory of the animal farm he proved that power corrupts and rights are violated, many publishers did not want to pick up the manuscript. Even Orwell’s own publisher refused it after sitting on it for ages.
This was mainly because Orwell wrote the book between 1943 and 1944 and at that time UK had a wartime alliance with Soviet Union and publishers did not want to risk upsetting their government by taking on a book that criticized the Soviet Union. It is believed since Second World War ended and gave way to the Cold War the book also met with its phenomenal success.
I bought my first copy of Animal Farm for Rs 7 from a second-hand book stall on College Street. The stall was right in the corner of my college gate – then Presidency College now Presidency University. After stepping into the canteen of my college in the first year, that was mostly abuzz with heated political discussions over cigarettes and chai, I realized this book came up frequently in discussions and I was definitely not being able to contribute to the conversation since I hadn’t read Animal Farm.
It took me a day to finish this thin novel and it redefined the way I looked at politics, power and human relations since then.
The work of a satire – be it witty or serious- is to make one sit up and contemplate. Satire takes on the system from within, questions perceptions, breaks norms and sometimes even suggests alternatives.
That’s why writing satire isn’t easy. After all the dissatisfaction and drafting I went through to make The Dress Code stand on its head, I wonder how the journey has been for my 28 co-authors of Mock, Stalk and Quarrel?
I am sure they, like me, have gone through their moments of dissatisfaction and euphoria as they gave shape to their thoughts. More than I want to read my own story, I want to read theirs. Because that is the best part of an anthology by different authors – there is no method in the madness.
And when the madness is around satire you can’t help but embark on a tumultuous yet fascinating journey to the last page.
Looking forward to Mocking, Stalking and Quarreling together…and running away if necessary.
About the Book
Mock, Stalk & Quarrel is a collection of 29 satirical stories, penned by prolific writers and bestselling authors, that attempt to mock, question, defy, and raise a voice against issues that matter. The stories were chosen from a nationwide contest conducted by Readomania and compiled in this collection that promises to be an engaging and thought-provoking read. For more about the book and the authors, head to the Facebook page of Mock, Stalk & Quarrel. The book has made an amazing entry at no 29 on Amazon.
Book Link: Amazon
About the Author
Amrita Mukherjee is the author of Exit Interview published by Rupa Publications, a freelance journalist and blogger.