Natasha Sharma is the author of several books for children (including five new ones coming out in the next six months!). Among the five is Bonkers, a hOle book. She was to be interviewed by Himanjali Sankar, the author of The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog and Skinny Scribbles.
However, Himajali thought it might be a good idea to share this book with Rousseau, the Timetelling Superdog, since he enjoys stories with dogs in them. The first two questions are from Himanjali to Natasha, and the rest from Rousseau to Bonkers.
HS: Tell us a little about Obi Singh, the current and original Bonkers! How much of him has got into this book?
HS: Obi Singh is a hurricane that has hit my parent’s home. A jet-black cocker spaniel, he laid claim to everything and everyone the moment he stepped in through the door. I get hourly updates of his insane antics and let me tell you–if you think Bonkers is well … bonkers, Obi Singh can probably throw him into a tizzy. Shredded clothes and puddles of pee are now blah in Obi Singh’s world. He’s moved on to bigger stuff like redecorating the house with the bedroom cushions now appearing in the flowerbed and the silver bowls finding a new location next to his bowl on the floor. Chewed-up spectacles were precursors to chomping through wallets full of money. And chasing Bonkers to get your shoe back would be easy compared to chasing Obi Singh as he runs around with a bottle of black ink while leaving a trail through the house. But that makes for another story.
Obi Singh and the nine wonderful dogs I grew up with are all through this book!
HS: I like the way the rest of the family disappear and leave Armaan to deal with his new pet. When it comes to the bullying later also he is on his own–perhaps i am over-reading but I loved the idea of a solitary little boy taking on his responsibilities. Best of all, you manage to do this without interfering with the humour and lightness. Was this consciously done or the just the way the story took you?
NS: A combination of both. I wanted the focus to stay on the relationship between Armaan and Bonkers, because the story is really about this boy and his dog and their bond. I wanted Bonkers to provide comic relief, be contrary to what Armaan expected and yet come through for the boy when needs him most. Because that’s what your dog is supposed to do. So I guess that was the conscious part of it.
I used to talk to my dog when I was a kid, especially when my best friend moved away … so I am sure a part of that emotion has made it’s way into the story.
I’ve come to believe that humour is my natural voice in writing and I’m glad that it has come through.
Enough of silly questions, says Rousseau. Over to him then. Bonkers must answer these questions.
R: The chewing frenzy that you got into was rather excessive. However, what did you enjoy chewing the most of all?
B: The toothpaste tube was kind of nice when I chewed it but then I had terribly minty burps for days post that. That isn’t mentioned in the story, but Armaan hasn’t discovered all that I made my way through; some things just disappeared from the house. The stuffing under the sofas was wonderfully soft, the wires were satisfying but I’d have to say it was the double-bounce, super-tread shoe that is my favourite.
R: I too prefer to carry the leash in my mouth when we go out for a walk. It is annoying to have someone else determine the route that I should take. Your thoughts on this?
B: Couldn’t agree more. It is after all our walk time, not theirs. In fact they should even hand over the steering wheel to us when we go driving. Same logic.
R: What is your take on that awful bully, TT?
B: He needed a paw-full, for being so aw-ful. Get it?
I’m working on my doggie poetry, woof!
R: You could have done a little better with the toilet training. And peeing on a person’s bottom, what were you thinking? Have you mastered bladder control by now?
B: A puppy’s got to go when a puppy’s got to go!
Anyway, Armaan seemed to like it. Every morning he used to get so excited when he would wake up and see my lovely puddle in the middle of his room. He’d jump straight out of bed. He’d hold me up in the air and shake me lovingly. But then he started waking up earlier than usual. It was quite difficult to wake up before him, but I didn’t want to disappoint him. So I’d drag myself out of bed at the crack of dawn and pee a couple of puddles, just for my boy.
And SSH! Don’t tell anyone about the bottom episode! That was a stroke of genius on my part, but I don’t want all dogs to go around doing that.
Of course I’ve mastered bladder control now … I make it to the front steps in time.
Disclaimer: Bonkers and Rousseau are not anthropomorphic animals. However, they can manage interviews rather well.