This quirky book of 20 brief essays explores various issues of modern life from a humanist perspective.
Menon’s (Women, Wellbeing, and the Ethics of Domesticity in an Odia Hindu Temple Town, 2013, etc.) collection of meditations, stories, and playful writing exercises defies easy genre categorization. The first essay, “My Mind and Me,” introduces the volume with an inner dialogue between a chronic multitasker and a mind that longs for peaceful contemplation. Several of Menon’s thought pieces expand on similar themes, such as “Rachel - No More a Mystery,” a profile of the evolution of an empath, deeply sensitive to the world’s pain, who turns out to be the author herself. “Jouska” demonstrates the value of imagined dialogue to improve relationships and increase inner awareness. Other chapters read like short stories, such as “Scarred,” a touching, straightforward narrative written from the point of view of Salma, a young girl forced into marriage with an angry, abusive man who eventually throws acid on her, permanently disfiguring her but not destroying her courage and determination. “A Rendezvous/One-Night Stand” plays with words with childlike delight as it describes the heroine’s sensuous abandon to a tryst with her inner writer: “A farrago of thoughts it had been. Or gallimaufry. Call it a ragbag, if you will….Even the probability of probability was welcome.” Not all of Menon’s inner explorations are successful. In “Dear Straight People,” a well-meaning defense of society’s outliers, she makes a potentially offensive comparison of sexual and gender minorities to those with “any other physical handicap.” Some of her writing is distractingly abstruse. For example, the introduction to “Gods! Are you Listening?” states, “It is always better to be safe than sorry. Well, that is a precursor for the anticipatory bail that I seek from the readers who are staunch believers of God.” However, that essay winds around to this canny observation, “Religion, per se, was not created by man to destroy life but to perpetuate the right way of living. In fact, it is a code of conduct for life in the manner appropriate for each culture.”
Offers rewarding insights to those willing to wade through her often idiosyncratic presentation.