Monday is a very awful way to spend 1/7th of your life – this is an observation anyone would agree with. Monday mornings are sluggish by default for many reasons. It approaches when a majority of us are nursing one weekend hangover or the other; some of the party the night before, others of a long overdue 10 hour sleep. We seem to detest getting out of beds on a Monday, hate getting ready for work, dawdle over that cup of coffee longer than required, hesitate turning on our workstations, and groan with exasperation when we see our inbox overflowing with the week’s work already charted over the weekend by overenthusiastic bosses. No, Mondays are no good at all.
I was dawdling over the aforementioned cup of coffee longer than required a few weeks back on a Monday when my phone rang. It was my mother calling me. Because it was my mother calling, and because I did not have anything terribly important to do just then, I decided to talk to her. I picked up the call on the fifth ring (I was, after all, pretty busy doing nothing). It started off with her asked me if I was up - at ten-thirty in the morning - which, considering the fact that my office starts at ten o’clock, could only be attributed to a mother who knows her son all too well. She conscientiously reminded me that my birthday was fast approaching, which was a fact I wasn’t likely to forget - I would, finally, legally be of an age to drink. Ironically, I was considered mature enough to vote and shape the destiny of my country since 18 years of age. This just goes to highlight the amusing little quirks of our wonderful nation, like frowning at public display of affection in a park while peeing on a nearby wall. And then, finally, when the call was about to end, she dropped a bombshell – she had been looking at prospective brides for me. I nearly threw up my coffee at my computer screen. My mother effortlessly keeps my father and us three devils-for-sons constantly on our toes with her habit of throwing surprises like a heavy steel box coated in lead, but this was one that I hadn’t foreseen coming. She went on for quite a while about other things, maybe about the family planning bit – how many kids I should have and when and where and how – but my brain plainly refused to take any more information in. Instead, it focused on working out what I would tell the ex that I once had, and the one that I have at present, and many others that I would have wanted to have in the future. Marriage, the ultimate sacrifice; the end of life as I knew it!
I opened my Facebook account to find something that would distract me from my predicament. Cute baby/puppy videos, god-awful dubsmashes, extremely clichéd and unfunny pranks – just about anything would have done. And then, as I was beginning to contemplate the repercussions of having a personal Armageddon, something on my newsfeed caught my eye that made my Monday take a nosedive for worse. In that lovely little sidebar that told me “what’s trending”, I saw words that would cause my brain to shut down, pack its bag and go out on an indefinite holiday. E.L. James had announced a sequel to the 50 Shades series.
Morbid curiosity made me click on the link with trembling hands and read the complete article. The sequel, as it was portrayed to be, was essentially the same story from the point of view of the sadistic Christian Grey. In simpler words, it was same old shit in a different lavatory. My god, I thought with the cup held halfway between the table and my open mouth, this is worse than marriage. Armageddon would have certainly been preferable.
Let us have a bit of a backstory here. I write for a living and aspire to be a full-time author one day. As a result, I have always held it my social responsibility to look down my nose at people who I literally think are grammatically inferior to me (see what I did there?). E.L. James would have been looked down the nose by people I looked down upon. I don’t hate the 50 Shades series, but I do despise it and its creator with extreme, unflinching, almost loyal passion. For the many stellar qualities that she is so universally despised for, I will list but a few – her prose is pathetic, there was no story in any of the three books, and a friend of mine commented his bathroom fantasies would have had much more narrative that what she had churned out. But my friend never made millions of dollars out of his bathroom fantasies, nor was the product of his depraved imagination ever adapted into movies by big Hollywood production houses. E.L. James is successful, and, in today’s money-crazy world, that is all that matters. Another extremely interesting thing to note here is the amount of success she has had for writing something that, from what I’ve heard, borders on innovative torture and flirts dangerously with domestic violence and molestation. What does it say, as a society, for our moral values; what does it say, as a global civilisation, for our future? Are we so deep into depravity and decadence that we’ve fallen for this obscene, wanton craving for debauchery? Are we regressing into the cavemen we once were? Someone close to me who has read the series summed it up pretty well in a sentence. As I was ranting about the grave injustice of having to suffer the likes of James and her ilk, she simply commented that James sold because she had something new to offer; it might have been crass, she argued, but it was a novel crassness. Simply put, the public will buy shit if is packed nicely in an attractive package and wrapped with a pretty pink ribbon.
Mahatma Gandhi is rumoured to have once said, “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind”. I have recently found out that he has never uttered anything of such sort, and besides, wouldn’t it make much more sense to poke both eyes out while you’re at it and significantly reduce the chances of righteous retribution inflicted upon you? So I respond to like with like; I shall write something novel, something new, and something extremely downmarket. Yes, I will write the Indian version of Fifty Shades of Grey. The story, titled 50 Rang Grihast Jeevan Ke, will revolve around a married Indian couple and will focus on how Indian husbands abuse their wives and how wives abuse their husbands in return. It is universally accepted in India that marital rape and domestic violence is a husband’s birthright, and BDSM has always been prevalent in India in the form of Bartan, Dhulai, Sewa and Maryada (Alok Nath must be thrilled). Since the wives don’t leave even after such wonderful display of love and affection, one suspects they rather enjoy it. But the marital fondness isn’t completely one sided; Indian wives demonstrate their capacity for returning love in equal measure by filing false dowry cases and through infidelity – it is, after all, their choice (cough, Deepika, cough). Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?
But the competition is already picking up. Another friend, an avid feminist, wants the roles to be reversed. She essentially wants a female Christian Grey who ties her husband to the bed and beats the living shit out of him with a stick; her idea of a good starting line is “He whimpered”. I have turned down her offer of collaboration because, firstly, the idea of a woman beating a man offended my male pride, and secondly, I would rather leave the unenviable task of conception of various innovative tortures for men to a woman because I do not wish to wince in sympathy the whole day (and because women are that good at innovating tortures). The last I heard, my feminist friend was searching for a sword to chop off extraneous appendages, most likely toenails. I have, on my part, convinced the friend with bathroom fantasies and a better narrative to collaborate with me. Given the current trends, I have high hopes of success from the series and firmly believe that even if we don’t attract Hollywood owing to our lack of connections in Los Angeles, the story can be successfully adapted into a C-grade Bollywood movie or a Bhojpuri blockbuster. Mediocrity, here we come!