Title: Wise Enough To Be Foolish
Author: Gauri Jayaram
Publisher: Jaico Books
Price: Rs 225
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary Fiction
‘Wise Enough To Be Foolish’ is a ‘fictionalized memoir’ of its author Gauri Jayaram. Frankly speaking, almost always the first books are drawn from the author’s life experiences but this word ‘fictionalized memoir’ is a new one for me, and I am not complaining. She has altered a few details here and there to protect identities and make the story more interesting.
The tone of the story is personal, as if the author is narrating to you the 28 years of her life, making you privy to her secrets, thoughts and experiences. Her openness and honesty are refreshing for an autobiographical work that does not aspire to be sensational. She talks about her failures as well as her successes with equal ease and acceptance. She tells you about her many failed relationships and relationships that failed her.
Gauri takes us through her life right from the time she was born [in fact even before]. She tells us how her parents got married when her mother hadn’t even completed her degree. This line really tickled me: “a well-settled Punjabi boy from the armed forces (fauj) in hand was better than a degree in the bush.” From being an aimless teenager to a goal-oriented youth, from an insecure child to a confident young woman; Gauri’s life has several inspiring, coming-of-age moments.
Her story may not be overtly extraordinary but there are many things which will resonate with you if you are an Indian girl from middle class background. Gauri is a victim of ‘the Middle Child Syndrome’. Being the middle child among three siblings, she always craves for unconditional love from her parents. Aimless about her life in her teens, she finds inspiration to turn it around at the right time. Living on her own in Mumbai and Bangalore for higher education and career, combined with the exposure that big cities and travelling offers, helps her grow into a confident woman of the world. Sports always played an important role in her life and continues to do so. But there were too many relationships which did not work [I got confused after a while]. Gauri mentions at some point the alternative title for the book was ‘finding love’ [if I am not wrong] because eventually at the centre of everything was her unfulfilled need for unconditional love and acceptance, where she does not need to be anyone else but herself.
All these years, Gauri lets her heart decide the course of her life and not head. For the multi-faceted woman that she is now, she certainly achieved what she sought out for, with a bit of luck and faith in herself. I was thrilled how eventually everything fell into place and she found a perfect partner.
It was a light-hearted read. There are enough twists and turns which keeps the story going at a good pace, and the fact that it is autobiographical makes it more fascinating. I really liked the way she has added updates about people where she writes about them because in an autobiographical account, the reader wants to know what those people are doing now. It is unusual that she decides to do it at that point because it is usually done at the end of the book. But I liked it this way because the character is more relevant at that point. The author has also discussed social issues every now and then, which was relevant to the story like female infanticide, preference of boy child, stigma related to divorce, inter caste / religion marriage, child abuse, etc.
Moreover, the cover page is charming and perfect for the story. The title is also interesting and captures the essence of the story well.
So, the fact of the matter is it may not be a literary masterpiece but there are enough reasons to read it, if you like contemporary women fiction.
Here are a few lines quoted from the book:
“But no day is like any other, no people are alike, and no lesson the same.”
“And as time goes by, I’m becoming a bit like him, and he is becoming like me. It is a crazy type of love. Yet it is like a candle – that gives warmth and lasts longer..”
Note: Text in italics has been quoted from the book.