Book review – Just Married, Please Excuse

I read Yashodhara Lal’s There’s Something About You about two years ago and had quite liked the book for its unlikely lead pair (What’s not to love about an overweight, clumsy woman and a mild mannered man finding love!) and her sense of humour. Since then the name of the author had stuck. So when I saw Just Married, Please Excuse in the book fair I bought it without any compunction.

Yashodhara (Y) is a drama queen losing her temper at the drop of a hat. Vijay (V) is steady and has a cool demeanor. Both work in the same company and they ‘fall’ in love. I don’t think it’s clearly stated in the book why V fell for Y. Complete opposites in every which way, they belong to different generations (a 7 year age gap), and have different backgrounds (big city girl and small town boy). They also have different world views and ideologies unable to agree on anything except their love for each other. With possibly the shortest courtship in the history of modern romance, they jump into matrimony because V is getting older. He pesters the reluctant Y to say yes within months of going out. Yes, that is how it happens. No, I am not exaggerating.

How is 30 old (unless of course you live in a small town like me)? Isn’t 40 the new 30? Are we still living in the 21st century? That is the beauty of living in India. You can simultaneously experience many centuries in one lifetime.

V wanted to know Y’s caste before approaching his family but he assures her it won’t matter. Y on the other hand has no clue about her caste. I would like to say casteism is regressive and has no place in the society but having seen the matrimonial columns, and living in the society with my eyes and ears open, I have seen caste rear its ugly head more often than I’d like to admit.

Just Married, Please Excuse isn’t exactly a romcom but a scathing look at marriage using humour (sarcasm) as a tool.  

Even today in the presence of in-laws, the wife has to behave in a particular manner so as not to offend their sensibilities whereas men can (mostly) be who they are (hence more true to themselves). I don’t like this hypocrisy but it’s a reality for many. I have seen some of my friends and relatives morph into a more conservative avatar when they visit their in-laws, and do things they never do or don’t agree with, in their real lives.

Why does anyone have to marry anyway? Isn’t marriage a social construct? Maybe an arranged marriage is better. You fall in love with each other after you are married. Or not. Sorry not sorry for digressing.

Yashodara Lal does humour very well, particularly sarcasm. Both the characters, husband and wife, Y and V are fond of making jokes that makes it easier to tread over some of the uncomfortable issues Just Married, Please Excuse raises. While Y hides behind sarcasm V cracks inane jokes at  wrong moments to diffuse the tension.

Midway through the book tedium had set in, and I had to force myself to keep turning the pages. The twist at the end which appeared to resolve everything was ridiculous but I had a good laugh. And that’s what matters in the end, right?

The book is unique because the woman has the upper hand here. Though sometimes too stubborn for her own good, Y asserts herself and doesn’t give in. She manages to retain her surname and her sense of self. One cannot take these things for granted even in these evolved times.

This is the only Indian book I have read in recent times where a couple goes for counselling. The sessions with the counsellor, and the way they were described had me in splits. In India it is believed that one should not come between a husband and a wife even when one of them is abusive (Read Meena Kandasamy’s When I Hit You to know what I am talking about). So taking this step to sort things amicably before they get worse is a welcome change.

The book appears deceptively light but deals with real issues that we never see after the proverbial happily ever after. There is a whole other world they would be stepping into. We see them get hitched and ride with them.

This is Yashodhara Lal’s first book and hence most likely to be autobiographical in nature than her other books. Her character’s name and surname in the book is same as the author in real life. Are you thinking what I am thinking?

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