Bookish Witch

Mrs. Basu’s Uncensored Familism by Chirasree Bose

Book blurb:

Mrs. Arpita Basu, the only daughter-in-law of Basu family, is here to tell you a story that will leave your stomach hurting with chuckles and laughter. A Chudail to her prim mother-in-law, inexistent to the devil father-in-law, a damped down bomb to her once best friend Naveena and well, nothing whatsoever to her own husband Akash, the 23-year-old finds herself questioning the very concept of familism as her six months of tumultuous married life is hit with unanswerable questions sprouting every now and then in her head. Speaking of head, what do you think is its importance in Mrs. Basu’s life? Oh boy, you’re in for a surprise! Because the quirks of their tongue-in-cheek relationship is bound to make you split your sides. However, in a split second Mrs. Basu’s life goes kaput as her dark past comes knocking at the door. While she struggles to keep it at bay, her husband leaves her side with no promise of coming back ever. Is it mere coincidence that her past holds a connection to the disappearance of her husband? Or, is it what Mrs. Basu deserves for all she did in the past? This chapter of her life will unravel the mysteries of the present, all the knots of the past and the road to the future. Of course, in the most hilarious way possible.

Genre: Fiction/Contemporary Drama/Humour

Pages: 151

Format: Kindle eBook/Paperback


  • Kindle eBook: 49 INR/$2.99
  • Paperback (available only in India): 199 INR

My Ratings: 4.8/5

A laughter ride of a family drama. Arpita is a young newlywed, trying hard to be an ideal wife as well as daughter-in-law. In her bid to please everyone, right from the members of her old family to her new family, she has forgotten her own happiness and there’s a constant battle of words between her heart and mind, which is brought out hilariously in this relatable drama, especially for Indian women. Does Arpita win the battle between her heart and mind? Read this book to find out.

What I liked about the book:
—> It taught me the word ‘Familism’ ( which somehow reminded me constantly of Big B’s dialogue from Mohabbatein ; ‘Parampara, Prathishta aur Anushashan’)
—> The cheeky and relatable humorous anecdotes.
—> The first person narrative which makes the whole story very personal and inclusive.
—> The conversations between Arpita’s head and mind, which are not only funny but also make us reflect on our own internal struggles where we do things just because they’re labelled as ‘Right’ even when our mind says it’s not logical or that we should question it.
—> Malti’s (the house-help) character and her wit and wisdom (I think I liked her even more than the protagonist Arpita)
—> Rightly points out that being broad minded, knowing what is right and wrong, or being a feminist has nothing to do with one’s caste, class or even education.
—> The buildup to Arpita’s past and how it connects to her present, also explaining why she makes certain decisions and behaves in a certain way in her current life.
—> The whole Billu Babaji episode and how Arpita stands up against the atrocity of so called pretentious Godmen in our country.
—> Never bitterly or blatantly belittles any relationship or the way the Indian society functions (for instance Arpita’s animosity towards her mother-in-law or how Arpita explains to Maddy in the climax scene that we shouldn’t blame the country for our choices and inability to speak up)
—> Arpita’s turnover and character development from a mute spectator or a no-nonsense woman.

What I did not like about the book:
—> Akash’s secret was kind of predictable midway (this might be because I’ve read so many books)
—> Certain scenes felt confusing and required more finesse.

Quotable quotes:
—> Aren’t men and women meant to complement each other? I mean…it’s fine with me that my man cannot cook. However, I love the fact that he never shies away from lending me a hand by chopping the veggies while I cook for the family. Isn’t that how we are supposed to coexist? It’s not a competition, is it?’
—> I wonder why a woman is meant to fix a man’s character. Do we exist only for men? Eight out of ten women’s capability of pulling off a marriage is gauged upon their propensity to fix their man’s character. Does this sound normal? Pardon my mind, mother-in-law, but every time you question me, ‘if I have done it, why can’t you too’, I feel like answering, ‘if you have made a mistake, why should I too?’
—> It’s not about how men are served in this world? It’s about how we are. The treatment need not be equal; it only ought to be fair. And, if it is not, we should have the courage to say no. Do we? Do I?
—> what really niggles at me is why nobody in this house talks about it whereas they all know that my husband sneaks out at nights to fuck another woman. I am expected to swirl a wand and cast a spell that magically turns my apparently shapeless torso into an irresistible one in order to make him cling to it. Why?
—> And, what’s the damn need of the family? Find the easiest way out in every predicament so that its honor is never tarnished. The truth, if discussed, would surely blacken the family name. The easiest way out, hence, is to not deal with it. Hush it up. Mouth silly, awkward jokes at the breakfast table, exchange grim glances during dinner and gobble up the lunch so that you can avoid sharing pregnant silences with your fellow family members. Turn your back to the issue, heave a sigh of relief and be the flag-bearer of familism. Hail Familism! It’s about time that we dropped the topic of nepotism and open our mouths about this bigger ‘ism’. What say?
—> That’s fear – that of failing to do what you’ve been taught all your life? Failing to please the one person who you were told is your only God. Failing to adhere to the protocols of marriage. But then, does it really have any? Or, should it? I wish women were instead taught to ask questions.
—> Can, for a change, a woman be portrayed as someone strong enough to realize that her life, in truth, has been saved?
—> Family – it promises nothing but teeny-weeny moments. The moments wherein your people including you are not faking happiness. Neither are you searching for it.
—> Is Happiness aware of the price tag that comes with those dainties?
—> Before alleging men for being unfair, do we even reflect on where this pretentiousness is rooted in?
—> How many women, irrespective of class, religion, and educational qualification, in our country get a say in family planning?
—> The wellbeing of the family lies in the wellbeing of each of its members. Not in the stifling outlook of the supposedly upper-class people. The only difference between a low-class and an upper-class individual. The former cannot dare to utter the right whereas the latter brazenly mouth the wrong.
—> Women and their humbug! On one hand they demand equality and on the other hand, they’d rummage up the matrimonial sites only to land an NRI.
—> I am fat and dark. And that’s everything that a woman in our country should not be. It was always about whether he’d choose me, not if I would. Never mind!
—> According to her, a girl’s value lies in acquiring only as much educational qualification as is required to secure a well-off groom. Do parents blow their hard-earned savings and salaries only to turn their daughters into eligible potential wives?
—> Seems like my education is like buying dhaniya to her. It’s only when you have to pay for it that you wonder if it’s at all necessary.
—> If you think women always go about pulling each other’s hair, then there is me, a noble exception, who wonders if the mistresses are missing out on her husband’s irresistibility tonight.
—> These Babajis, I tell you, have cast some spell on this wiser generation. Who cares about the poor fellows in white apron having spent years only to earn the credibility to write them a legit medicine? I wonder why these aspiring Doctors waste their time and money into getting admission in the top-notch medical institutes in the first place. Why not watch Billu Babaji’s DVDs instead? All the nation wants is Billu Babaji Ka Special Medicine.
—> Hope is always there, but its presence doesn’t change the truth.
—> It’s love. It’s a hopeless habit.
—> Thousands of wives in this country believe that their worth lies in serving their husbands. Half of them are victims of domestic abuse, marital rape, or mental assault. The other half is not even aware of the truth that they are. We are nobody to judge them; they themselves choose to live this way. It could be a habit of togetherness, fear of losing security, scruples about going against their supposed God or anything else for that matter. Unless they feel that they are being wronged, who are we to shout about it? If to them, it is love, it is…maybe.
—-> Sometimes all one needs is someone who would listen. Whether the latter understands, connects, or empathizes is not what matters. They must listen. That’s all. Without reading much into what the former is saying.
—> ‘What is marriage?’
Isn’t it meant to take place between two people who are in love?’
‘It should. Indeed. But sometimes love is that unnamed yet exquisite flower which could crop out over the most infertile soil.’
— > For those who think housewives are the happiest, laziest, and most goalless people on earth, let me tell you they too have bosses. Bosses who are as unreasonably troublesome as yours with practically no knowledge of how to set sensible targets. Like I have mother-in-law.
—> Saving your own ass is more important than kicking your boss’s. Remember, employees!
—> That’s the fun of being a Boss. You speak gibberish without giving a fuck about who wants to kick your ass; they would always save theirs.
— > Shubh Mahurat! We Indians always find a fortunate time for unfortunate happenings. Like weddings. Like making babies.
—> Good always comes with bad. Memories are no exception either.
—> Friends say sorry and things settle. It’s that easy.
—> Not everything you want to do is legit in our country.
—> You should speak up when you know you’re right. That doesn’t show your disrespect towards anybody. It only reinforces your respect for yourself.
—> If you have to convince people that you’re right, then probably you are not.
—> Which girl in her sane mind would revel in her own b-grade lechery? ‘Feels great to be held by a man’!! Gross. Dumb-asses like me don’t have to get high to pull off such blunders. We are innately blessed.
—> It’s not always about the boy’s side. It’s about the girl’s side being silent to the unjust.
—> No use wasting time over something that’s not in our hands anymore.
—> People don’t always think badly of you. Neither do they always judge your doings. Sometimes all they are doing is marvel at your character. You know why? Because they cannot be you.
—> Not giving up is that one quality which most humans lack. And if that comprises a tad bit of madness, why not?
—> There is a difference between talking back and speaking one’s mind.
—> If today you mend your thinking and speak up for the right, you can better the lives of two more women one, your daughter and two, your future daughter-in-law. And they probably can better some more.
—> Our mothers-in-law call us stupid because that makes them feel superior. And in turn, we do the same. Don’t we? Just to have the last laugh. The day we stop this endless struggle of being superior to each other, women can actually direct their focus towards something fruitful.
—> Get married and suddenly your measure of decency would be confined to the length and width of your attire. The looser your dress, the tighter your character.
—> Following what everybody else is doing is conventional. Knowing you cannot yet being comfortable with the fact is called individuality.
—> Life is weird, isn’t it? Silence frustrates us whereas words make us yearn for a lull. All the time you spent in mum pushed you to hate yourself because you were considered weak. But now that years of silence have made your pent up words explode, you still hate yourself. Why? Because now you are called improper, bigoted, and dominant. You can never be unapologetic amidst these weighty yet futile emotions, can you?
—> If heart knows how to take shit from others, the head knows how to gather it up, make a nice round mould out of it and throw it right back.
—> She’s too blind to see the futility of her nasty behavior. And a blind person has to rely on others’ perception of the world.
—> It’s practically impossible to live an unapologetic life if you choose to be vocal about your emotions and stop burying them down. The fact is every person expects you to hide your feelings and listen to their own. Humans are not born to understand each other, they are meant to coexist.
—> Mothers! Ask them to do their bit to reverse the effects of global warming and pat they will shed a gallon of tears! They think the whole world can be conquered with only about 6 grams of salt and a litre of water.
—> Don’t make it all about money and fame. Listen to that little voice in your head. It shows you the right direction…always. What you’re listening to, instead, is the voice of greed. It can only drive you to your own destruction.
—> The hope that everything will be alright one day isn’t going to help. However, the obstinacy that one day I would make everything alright might.
—> This aged generation is almost always determined on proving their point. They could be right. But then again, are we always wrong? Is age the only factor for being eligibly put in the category of ‘right’, ‘experienced’, and ‘cognizant’? The point is their generation is at least determined on their own perceptions. Ours is almost always confused about what is right and what is not. When we listen to our hearts, we feel guilty. We then seek validation from elders and once received, resent their command over our decisions. On the other hand, if they happen to not accede to our perception, we decide to stick to it anyway out of stubbornness. Which is alright. But then, we end up feeling regretful because the validation was not attained.

—> Being right or wrong is highly overrated. Neither you can be right every time, nor are you wrong all the time. Life is but a series of lessons. You are here to garner them all.
—> Nobody likes a person who goes against the tide.
—> You know what the problem with us is? We get scared when changes lurk around the corner. We, despite knowing that our prejudiced beliefs are backward, hold on to them so hard that at one point they start to feel right. Even our conscience gets buried under the crescendo of voices rooted in our minds. The older generation is unapologetic, you see. We have difficulty accepting the changes the younger generation brings in. And that eventually results in thousands of us being hapless.

—> It’s not about generation. The real problem is we limit our perceptions to our own perspectives. The extent of our understanding is confined to what we can easily stomach…anything that needs a bit of toiling in order to be fathomed is wrong to us.
—> There’s a difference between agreeing with someone and faking it in order to not displease them.
—> I know I am equally at fault. I have always been indifferent to the wrongs being done to you. I thought,’ he throws a hollow laugh. ‘I owed it to Ma for all that she’d ever done for me. I thought I had greater responsibilities towards that woman. I strived to be a good son. Something that society would proudly accept and appreciate. And that seemed enough. At one point, I almost forgot about the husband in me. I forgot that there was another woman in my life who would look to me every time she was being wronged for support. I turned your silence into my consolation. I told myself you were the ideal woman for my family. But then again, were we ideal for you?
—> We are stupidly obsessed we are with the notion of ‘being ideal’. Why do we not instead choose to be right? Why did I not choose to be right?
—> It’s too seldom a quality for men to accept that they are at fault. Most smack their heads pinning the blame on the institution of marriage and advising others to not get into it. Some come to the conclusion that women are troublemakers. While the rest spend their entire lives taking pride in choosing neither right nor wrong. However, if you ask me, the problem lies with women. Why do they always have to look to men for support?
—> There is no explanation for why bad things happen. Not all mishaps can be named as a lesson either. Some are just bad memories. Very bad at that, but we need to understand that our heart has an inherent capability to heal with time. And, we shouldn’t hold it back either. If healing is an intrinsic process, so is being happy after being sad for a long, long time. It’s okay to be happy, to smile, to forget, to move on and start living all over again.
—> Being good is not the same as being dumb.
—> What! Saas Jaane Bahu Ka Dard? Which hypocritical moron is running this shit on national television?
—> How often we criticise the relationships from previous generations and yet at times, they leave us baffled.
—> It’s easy to value your own struggles; how often do we give equal value to that of others? Maybe that is the foundation of their relationship. To us, the current generation, this might seem a little outlandish since we often confuse understanding with accepting defeat. Don’t we?
—> If I was wrong in thinking that she was weak, then she was no less wrong in letting me feel so.
—> You have no control over someone else’s ridiculousness. However, if you realise your own worth, their contempt would fail to affect your life.
—> our country almost every woman is poisoned with the mania of being labelled as a ‘good woman’. In fact, they are raised this way. While they are always barred from holding their heads high, men, on the other hand, are never taught to lower theirs.
—> Good doesn’t necessarily mean right. A good human is frantically obsessed with clinging on to the title of “good”…and obsession of any sort eventually leads to destruction.
—> Just because you’re sad, you can’t go about philosophizing every fucking thing around you.
—> Nobody needs to be given the right to say what’s right.
—> Vain people are often fascinated by each other’s extent of dumbness. Hence, they end up following each other on an even dumber app called Instagram. No need to boast about it.
—> How can we turn our faces from others saying “it’s your problem, not mine”? Is it okay for them to suffer just because we don’t like them?
—> It’s okay to dislike someone. But don’t sate your urge for teaching them a lesson by causing harm.
—> Sometimes it takes nothing but a moment of restraint to be considerate.
—> Without a valid purpose, what are we living for?
—> Every person has a right to move ahead in life.
—> Purpose comes to those who are worthy. For it’s not easy to possess one. Or hold on to one. It requires sacrifices. And, you know what you need to sacrifice? The disquieting comfort of your mind and heart.
—> Disquieting comfort grows over the fine line between existing and living. Four surrounding walls and a roof overhead to ensure protection, and a man who promises to feed you for life – if that’s what it takes to exist, what is it like to live for real?
—> ‘We don’t lose friends. We distance ourselves from them. Knowingly. Willingly. And that’s almost always because our ego holds us back from saying sorry…’
—> ‘You and your words! Where did you learn them from?’
‘Life, Didi.’ She returns the smile. A fucked life gives you more lessons than a sorted one.’
—> Mothers-in-law are weirdly confused. The toughest dilemma they live with is whether to be happy because their sons are happily married or sad because well, the happiness roots in the existence of the evilest of all characters on earth – their daughters-in-law.
—> They are not Chinese. Just because they all look the same with nearly invisible eyes, you cannot bluntly impose the nationality of China on them.
—> Sometimes pain feels more alive than happiness,
—> Memories…sometimes bad ones make you smile and good ones make you cry!
—> ‘It’s not about the country. It’s about the ability to decide what’s right and what’s not. I didn’t have that. Nobody did. We cannot just pin the blame for every societal misconduct on our country’s cultures and ideals. Which divine power told us to not mend our thinking? Which sacred scripture advised to push a human to death for sating the futile urges of our culture?
—> Maybe the battle was tough. Maybe we would’ve lost it anyway. But there is almost always a better option than giving up.
—> Not every person can be vocal in conveying their feelings. Not every soul can spell their pain out to people. Not everybody has the ability to be demanding.
—> The truth is always trouble.
—> “Get married first and then a job if your in-laws permit.”
Huh…A bunch of people whom I hardly knew were now being handed the dictatorship of my life. Because, well, my guardians were tired of dealing with it. Half of your life you are told to make the most of educational knowledge and in the other half, you are like what the fuck, I need to upskill myself to the medieval notion of an ideal daughter-in-law who must lose every damned reasoning skill she’s ever gained through education!
—>’ I am often tagged as a nasty woman. Why? Because I do not keep my mouth shut when people shit in my face. I wipe my face and throw it back at them. You may call it wrong, a never-ending game, a foolish act or anything else for that matter but my life has taught me to be savage to mindless people. You know what the problem is with them? They are too scared to acknowledge their stupidity. Nope, it’s not your job to make them realise it either. But, yes, it is incumbent on us to flash a specific finger at them and ask them to…,’
—> The truth has its way. The fact that you have shut the door in its face doesn’t mean it cannot find another.
—> Family comprises those who care about you. Familism, often that you confuse with family, comprises the hollow pride which feeds on that love and care.
—> Don’t be so obsessed with your pain that that of others’ escapes your eyes.
—> Hope cannot be confined to the existence of light; nor can it be diminished by the absence of it. Hope has its home within us. We can either acknowledge or keep scrounging it in vain.
—> When people around you choose to be blind, you cannot count on their ability to see the inevitable. Therefore, I plead with you to say it aloud. Don’t assume your destiny for it only depends on the actions you take and the decisions you make today.
—> It is easy to assume answers that let you live with an easy lie.
—> Don’t we often find a solution in blaming the other and satisfy ourselves with their self-reproach?
—> If you want to cry, go on.It’s the only medicine when you’re hurting within.
—> One day I was struck with a thought. One of those thoughts that come and go. Or, maybe it’s you who prefer to let it go.
—> In love, you don’t leave hands to walk on your own individual paths…you hold hands to find that one path which takes both of you to the desired destination.
—> It’s easy to blame the other person for mistakes they make, what takes real guts is to accept your own and be ready to learn together.
—> Our approach to the issues that we face is almost always wrong. We marvel at the privileges men have. The fact that they are never questioned. That they can get away so easily. Our focus is almost always on what advantages men are born with and how disadvantaged we are as a result. As a result, seriously? Is everything that happens to us a result of men’s existence? No,we are wrong.
—> The thing is men, as well as women, fall victim to the needs of society, culture, and family. A mother herself instills the idea that men are stronger, better, and worthier than women in her kids’ minds. If her child grows up to be a man, isn’t he bound to hold on to that belief for life? Who is to be blamed here? And if by misfortune it’s a girl, then neither she can accept those words nor she can fight them. Who is she to fight against? Half of the time, it’s her own family who stands in her way. Needs of the family are above that of people who build it, right?
—> Mothers are selfish creatures. I don’t know who named us God. We aren’t. We are insanely selfish when it comes to our kids’ well-being. We know we can’t yet we strive all our lives, relentlessly, to ensure that they are never hurt. And, in the process, we don’t refrain from inflicting pain on others if that’s what it takes to keep our kids safe.
—> ‘Ma’ is not a word or address or person. It’s a feeling. Sometimes you discover it in the weirdest of places.
—> Isn’t every new chapter a continuation of the previous one? Starting a new chapter does not mean that the previous one loses its existence. It only means that you have evolved. That you are ready for a new challenge in life.
—> When you, of your own accord, choose to walk on a path, you can no longer pin the failure of the journey on others. However, if the journey gives you happiness, success or failure of attaining the destination would hardly ever bother you.
—> Failures teach you what success cannot.
—> A shortcut often doesn’t take you to your deserved destination. It keeps you wandering here and there in search of it until you give up looking.
—> I wish…all parents would soon realise the need for teaching their kids the importance of walking out of something that they are not made for.
—> Mothers say things. You know what, they aren’t meant to be taken to heart.
—> Value your family, the needs of each member. Problems arise and that’s normal. Talk about them, don’t hush them up. Listen, don’t question. Understand, don’t judge. Love, don’t suspect. You can afford to lose familism, not your family.

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