Where did you get the idea for the character of Dragon Aunty or Dolly?
Is Dragon Aunty someone you know in real life?
Are you friends with Dragon Aunty or someone like her in real life?
Are you Mrinalini in the book?
Ever since my book, Dragon Aunty Returns, was published by Juggernaut Books early this year, I’ve been living out the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. It hasn’t been very pleasant, let me tell you. A barrage of questions are invariably thrown at me. At lunches, dinners and get-togethers. Some of my close friends have been acting rather strangely around me, sniffing loudly and looking upset when any mention of the book comes up.
The other day, one of them (we will call her X) couldn’t contain herself any longer and accosted me when I was out for a walk. “Hey!” she whispered furtively from behind the bushes of a park in the block of flats adjoining mine. “I wanted to ask you a question.” I strolled over casually to where she was standing, wondering why she was hiding behind the bushes looking so secretive, all of a sudden.
“I wanted to ask you about that Dragon lady in your book,” X blurted out. “You aren’t writing about me, are you?” While there were many similarities between Dolly and X, I hadn’t thought of the latter when I was writing the book at all. But I didn’t know what to say so I burst out laughing. “Good god no,” I said, in between giggles. “What on earth made you think that?”
“Who is it then?” she persisted, with a petulant twist of her lips. “Is it someone I know?”
I met her stare without blinking. I wasn’t about to tell her anything. A writer never gives away her secrets. Or is it a magician?
“No, it’s not someone you know. So don’t worry,” I added hurriedly.
As I returned home that evening, I couldn’t help smiling to myself. Perhaps, the book should have come with a disclaimer: Any Resemblance to Actual Persons, Living or Dead, is Purely Coincidental. I’d better remember that when I’m writing the sequel!
This strange turn of events also got me thinking. When had Dragon Aunty made an entrance in my life? It would have to be during Durga Puja in 2013. I remember marvelling at the mind-boggling array of tattoos I had witnessed at the different puja pandals across Gurgaon. It had become a fashion fad to get inked and most women I knew were sporting tattoos in various shapes, sizes and colours. I remember writing a post about it in my blog, Gurgaon Diaries. The Aunty with the Dragon Tattoo. Soon Aunty had leaped out of the virtual universe, becoming a figure larger than life. There was just no escaping her. She was everywhere.
As for me being Mrinalini, there’s very little resemblance between Mrinalini and myself, other than the fact that both of us are Bengalis. Mrinalini is stuffy and a prude. I’m neither. In fact, I probably resemble Dolly more than Mrinalini. So it’s safe to say, some days I am Dolly, while I am Mrinalini on others. They are both my alter-egos. As for Panks and Guruji and the others, go figure! I’m not telling.
You must read the book to see if you recognize anyone else. Available on the Juggernaut Books app. You can download it here: