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A chat with Maneka Gandhi is lit

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi’s latest book There’s a Monster Under My Bed! is not just another addition to children literature. It’s a book that will help kids and their parents deal with childhood fears before they transmute. And she also talks about FOMO and JOMO.

Updated: Feb 25, 2019 13:04:13

By Medha Shri Dahiya

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi in a tête-à-tête about her latest book, There’s a Monster Under My Bed!, and her fears and strengths. (Raajessh Kashyap/HT Photo)

She is the champion of rights of all beings — animals, humans, and flora alike. An activist, politician, and author, you “just can’t slot” her. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Union minister for women and child development, is not your regular politico. She is cool, calm, composed and clued in on the latest lingo. She talks about her latest book, There’s a Monster Under My Bed! and her fears and strengths. Excerpts:

The cover of There’s a Monster under My Bed! by Maneka Sanjay Gandhi.

BESIDES ANASUYAA, YOUR FOUR-YEAR-OLD GRANDDAUGHTER, WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?

All children. For all children suffer from fears; even we did... A primal fear is the fear of being abandoned, and it starts when you are very young. You think your parents will go away and not come back, you’ll be abandoned. The second fear is of the unknown, and darkness, for some reason, represents that. If we don’t deal with our fears when we are young, they transmute and become other fears. When I had my first child, I was too young to deal with it, but by the time you get to the grandmother stage, you have a better understanding of the world . So, when Anasuyaa trotted out her first fear, I felt that it was time to get into this. I spent a lot of time working with children... we had one session with 200 children to understand their fears.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR?

My biggest fear (thinks for a while)... My biggest fear is of seeing beings in pain. I’m really appalled by pain; not by death — by pain. A lot of adults suffer from a strange primal fear of missing out, FOMO. It is an actual fear... ‘I didn’t get called out here; nobody loves me anymore’. I think the root of it is the fear of loss of love. You feel that you are not wanted or not loved.

DO YOU HAVE FOMO?

No. I simply couldn’t be bothered with missing out or not missing out because my life is so full anyway.



NOW THERE IS A COUNTERTERM — JOMO, JOY OF MISSING OUT.

That’s a way of dealing with it (FOMO)... we say, if you are missing out, it is actually a good thing.

SO, WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST STRENGTH?

The ability to see the world dispassionately and with great passion, at the same time. And I’m interested in everything — that is my biggest strength. Everything interests me. I can’t think of anything that is beyond my ability to be curious. And the second one is my huge unshakeable respect for everything — for ants and grass and the sky.

WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK?

I don’t have a favourite book. I read a book a day. I’m currently reading four books. In my car, I have, at any given time, about 50 books. So, I am never caught without books . Again, I think that’s my fear (smiles). If you had to pinpoint a fear of mine, [it would be] to be stranded anywhere without a book.

OKAY THEN, NAME SOME BOOKS THAT CHANGED YOU.

Every book I read brings about a change. But, some all-time favourites are The Master and Margarita (by Mikhail Bulgakov), The Collected Works of Lewis Carroll, and magic realism of Borges (Jorge Luis Borges). As a genre, I read science fiction the most.

Interact with the author on Twitter @medhashri

First Published: Feb 17, 2019 11:58:03

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