Thursday, September 6, 2012

Am and the Big Jerry

Disclaimer: This no review of Jerry Pinto's book Em and the Big Hoom.

“Have you ordered something through Flipkat?' my husband asked as he opened the door.
“yes. It is Jerry's book. Take the delivery” I answered from the kitchen
“ You must read it. I mean we must read it . It has been well received.....” I corrected myself as I went on talking in-spite of getting no response from other end.

Out came the book.
Em and the Big Hoom. By Jerry Pinto,
Em? and the Big Hoom?  I turned the book looking for some clues what it means. So Jerryish title. I thought to myself. Never say things which are simple and direct.
Jacket of the book was equally intriguing. Unlike Jerry
Charcoal black with delicately decorated female profile . I ran my hand over it and flipped through the book. It had dark purple edged pages . I liked it.

I don't know where I first met Jerry ? It was early 90s. Was it at poetry circle group? Or was it in Times of India office where Jerry worked as freelance writer and I was a freelance illustrator.?
My perception of Jerry, is a tall lanky guy with light eyes. Perpetually smiling , sometimes you felt he is smiling bit too much for no reason as he talked non stop. Words literally tumbled out his mouth like heap of clothes from teenager's cupboards. He had a peculiar sense of humor that sometimes bordered on darker , deeper and dirtier realms. I carried an impression of him as sweet boy who always laughed and made you laugh. A sunshine boy ; life of a party; a raconteur who entertained non stop. Oh Jerry was such a fun to be around. And yet I felt there is a mystery side which remained inaccessible to me. Jerry spoke in innuendoes. Which made me feel very uncomfortable.

Let me recount an incident from Times of India days. Jerry was working as a freelance writer and I was a freelance illustrator. I had come to office to collect an article from edit desk. I saw  Jerry  typing on his computer at the end of long desk lined with many computers. I plopped myself next to his chair since I had to wait for the print out to get ready. Naive and new to the city environment, I got talking to Jerry and told him I bought something that I don't not know how to use it. I was alluding to the oven we bought other day. Jerry stopped typing,  paused as he turned his grey eyes on me said “ let me guess what it is. You bought a sex toy!” I cannot describe my emotions at this point. Embarrassed ? Shocked? Stunned? Angry? probably cocktails of all these emotions ran through me. Then came a smile with words “ It is a joke sweetheart. I am sure you will eventually learn to use an oven”.

Was Jerry being nasty to me? Or was he going through a bad day?

In another instance, Jerry was visiting us in our home in Nallasopara a deep suburb of Mumbai.
I picked up this opportunity to show some of my art works to Jerry and an art critic friend on that occasion. Jerry picked up an unfinished work  that depicted of trousers hung on a hook and unbuttoned. Jerry looked at the work “ I like that inhibited libidinal fantasy you are trying to portray through this work.” and then he went on giving a long unwinding dialogue explaining sexual connotation of the work as he saw it.  He ended his speech with “ Can I have this work as a gift?” I was too shocked and embarrassed by his direct critique before friends and my husband I could barely divert the conversation by saying “ It is not a finished work”. ( I still owe him this work)

I felt Jerry enjoyed his uncanny ability to embarrass you with a straight face which sometimes had a childish joy of checkmating the opponent. The only way I could resolve Jerry's words would be “Oh I cannot understand Jerry Pinto'.

So when I heard Em and Hoom was semi autobiographical/ semi fictional work I decided to order the book. For me book was an opportunity to take a peek into Jerry Pinto's world. A window to Jerry's quirky attitude. And even try and understand mystery behind his 'sunshine' smile.

So did I find any of the above questions when I read the book?
Do I understand Jerry Pinto any better now?

Em and the big Hoom is a very private diary. A diary which you don't want people to ever read . It is a space where you write to understand the incident in one's life in retrospect and make sense of it. It is private meditation where you ask yourself was I right in behaving this way? Or was I too harsh and nasty to other person? Why am I so angry with people around me? Should I say sorry? Or am I mad too?

Understanding parent/child relationship is daunting task even in normal family conditions. There are some issues that remain unresolved and unexplained however loving and caring the relationship may be. So when one's mother is terminally 'mad' the task to understand the family structure becomes more uphill.

Surprisingly the book is not as dark and gloomy as jacket suggests. It neither informs you about the illness of bipolar disease. Nor it seeks any sympathy for the family who suffers along with the patient.
It is not even attempting to understand 'family' structure. Or apologetic about its sexual dialogues between a mother and son .

Jerry does not write this book for his readers. If you happen to read it 'good for you'.  Book reminds me of my the first English lesson in school. “This is Tim and this is Mini” Thats it.  Take it or leave it.
Jerry tells you story of his life with the straight face “this is my mom Em and this is my father Hoom” Em was mad and Hoom was Hoom. Now that I have told you story you can go home”. and I am Jerry Pinto.

I think i have found answer to my dilemma of how to understand Jerry Pinto.
Jerry is Jerry
take it or leave it.

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