• Tulika Publishers

'Fiercely fun, madly morose and prone to spontaneous combustion': An extract from 'This is Me, Mayil

For every moment of clarity, young people are faced with several others filled with anger, confusion and self-doubt. Our Mayil Ganeshan has all the confusion and confidence of adolescence too. She faces the everyday dilemmas of young people to questions on gender stereotyping all around – from Ramayana stories to Rajnikanth movies. But Mayil keeps her chin up and decides that she will never put her pen down.



This week, in our ongoing series for Pride month, we’re focusing on sex, gender, attraction and identities. In the second part of this two-part series, we bring to you an excerpt from ‘This is Me, Mayil’, the third in our witty and brilliant fiction series written by Sowmya Rajendran and Niveditha Subramaniam.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“…head and shoulders above the flippant, ha-ha diary publications that are again quite a fad ... Yes, it’s humorous and easy to read, but it deals in a much more authentic way with growing up issues and is unflinching for a pre-YA book.” — Ken Spillman, Writer

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “…a book that is going to launch a thousand diaries or convert many a reluctant diary writer into a regular. Niveditha and Sowmya have created an absolute cracker of a character and its bursts of brilliance stay with you long after you have turned the last page. More power to them.” — The Book Review Literary Trust


Fiercely fun, madly morose and prone to spontaneous combustion — this is Mayil at Not Yet Sixteen. Edgier. Older and bolder, the unstoppable ‘Mayilwriter’ rants in rhyme, ponders in verse, and doodles in between.


With laugh-out-loud humour, seriousness, sensitivity and honesty of the popular, coming after the award-winning ‘Mayil Will Not Be Quiet!’ and ‘Mostly Madly Mayil’, this diary is another exceptional, unputdownable, coming of age must-read book for pre-teens, teens and anyone older.


***

I haven’t told anybody about this. But every single time I think about it, I feel sick. It happened last year, when we went on this two-day field trip. There was this girl, Devika, who had moved from Hong Kong. Normally, VB doesn’t take anyone new in the 10th but her father had been transferred suddenly, and she was placed in my section. The teachers told us to help her settle in because school had already begun, and it can be hard if you’re new and everyone already knows each other. I just sort of disliked little things about her. The way she ate idlis with a spoon. This hand sanitiser she carried around. How she wore perfume even though it wasn’t allowed in school. It wasn’t strong or anything but I felt like she was just trying to show us that she wasn’t like us. What’s the point of being nice to someone who doesn’t even notice you’re trying? I didn’t feel like it. She and Sara started hanging out though. And they held hands all the time. Sara would actually feed her sometimes and I thought this was pretty yucky. Anyway, on the trip they sat together on the side berth of the train and drew the curtain. That’s when it started. First Aveek (whom we used to called AvYuck when he joined school along with his twin Ashray... AShrek) pointed and raised his eyebrow. Then I said, “Do you want to get in there too?” and everyone laughed. I did too. And then Sara and Devika were pretty much all anyone could talk about. When Sara went to the bathroom, we acted like it was insanely funny and they were snorts and giggles all around, though now it just seems so absurd. Eventually, Devika realised something was going on. She yelled, “Stop it!” Sara just burst into tears. Later, each of us walked up to them and apologised. Some of the girls were crying and I thought they were being fake and overdramatic. But I think it wasn’t until much later that I really realised what we had done. What I had done. I always told myself that everybody did it. That everybody was wrong. But now I know exactly how I acted that day. Her dad was transferred again so she left school soon after. I’ve been thinking about this ever since I sat and read through the responses to my survey and the Spine column. So many people have said they were let down by friends or family members — people they thought were nice. Either they didn’t help or they contributed to the bullying. Sometime ago, I found Devika on Facebook and sent her a message. A real apology this time. But she never replied. There used to be this boy called Jacob in class, he is in another section now. I once said he smelt like rotten guava and I didn’t really think that people would repeat it for ages after that. I didn’t mean to be nasty or mean. And I just wanted to forget I even said it. But we can’t do that. He was just nice enough not to hold it against me, that’s all. ***


June 18, 2021