Wise Enough To Be Foolish is penned by the first-time author Gauri Jayaram, who is a multi-talented mother dabbling into various things like athletics, sports, travelling, entrepreneurship yet not satisfied and always wanting more.
First, it was Madhuri Banerjee, whose (female) protagonists defied the traditions and lived on their own to follow their dreams and had varied men as partners at various stages of their lives and now it is Gauri Jayaram.
As self-confessed by the author, this book is a fictionalised version of her own life. This biography is more of a monologue where it seems like she’s directly talking to us, readers, and telling us her story right from the beginning, the day that she was born.
This is the story of Gauri (although her parents had first named her Aprajit), the second of the three siblings in a fauji household . Born in 1972, she had already traveled to various cities in India by the time she was 15, thanks to the frequent transfer orders that her father received. This also gave rise to a nomad in her who wanted to explore the world and travel to various parts of the world. As we would later learn in the story, travelling healed her.
She talks to us about almost everything as she grow old. The sibling rivalry, the feeling of being ignored by the parents, the discrimination of the parents towards her brother just because he was a boy, that feeling of helplessness because of the restrictions of the parents, the tantrums to attract attention, the troubles at the school, the feeling of wanting to run away and about her classmates at school. She talks about the Army quarters and the Army community, the Punjabi mentality in general in her parents, the hypocrisy and all. She also talks about the the first crushes, the puppy loves, the peer pressure and her encounter with the word sex and all.
Later, she finishes high school and fate brings her to Bombay (as it was called then and as she likes it to be called with no offence to any political party) although she wanted to go to Delhi. Gauri settles down in a hostel and is more than happy to be out of the cage that she was living in and enjoys the independence that the hostel life brings.
She makes 3 best friends in the hostel and soon she evolves from a troublesome kid to an aspiring, fierce, independent and matured woman who wants to travel the world. She also has various encounters with guys from different religions and learns about many new terms like “kissing friends” and “fu*k buddies” for the first time.
The rest of the story is about her professional life, about various relationships (both professional and personal) she gets into, about the hardships she faces in living on her own, about her strained relationships with her parents, about her life in general and the types (and number) of men she encounters in her journey of life.
Her life, in short, has been a roller-coaster ride. She has dabbled into various jobs. She has worked in various creative fields. She has never had it easy and has always fought the hard way to achieve what she wanted and over the period of time, she has also evolved as a person.
Quoting a statement from the novel on the attitude of her mother, “She (mother) wanted us to have the freedom she had never had but she didn’t want to accept the consequences. She expected we would eventually settle down with boys of her choice. It was a bit hypocritical, I think, but then that’s so totally Punjabi too!”
She had had them all, (the then) taboo situations like live-in relationships, love-marriages, inter-caste marriages, divorce in her life. She had faced enough opposition from her own family and at the same time, she had also earned acceptance and encouragement from friends and strangers.
She raises some valid questions every now and then, making us ponder, with her arguments. The narrative is filled with humor and a bit of sarcasm, making it a fun and riveting read. Many life experiences are included as anecdotes which we can instantly relate to. She also gets a bit spiritual and philosphical along the way.
It’s a must-read for all women and men alike. It’s inspiring in bits and takes us through the psyche of Gauri and we begin to like her more and more as we keep growing with her. We often get a feel, “Wish, my life was like that..” while reading the novel. And it’s a novel, which justifies it’s title as we near the climax.
These are some of the lessons that Gauri teaches us through the novel.
- No pain, no gain.
- Sometimes, you just got to have faith in Him.
- You should do something only because you want to do it. Not because someone else wants you to do it. Even if that someone else are your parents.
- It is always an advantage to have an evil side to you.
- Sometimes, it is wise enough to be foolish.
A hard-hitting and a wonderful read. Not to be missed.