You must read this. Let the dal burn. (You want to eat at a time like this?) Let half your face stay unshaven. (No one really notices you anyway). Pause the murderer on TV, knife in air. Don’t even draw another breath unless you pay me full attention.
The must-must is advice-giving at its most menacing. Musters are a belligerent species whose threat hangs over you: you must read this forward, or else you will go bankrupt/bald/bananas. Don’t pretend you haven’t ‘musted’. It’s addictive. I even embellish it further. ‘You must see this. You’ll love it.’ Ah, deliciously arm-twisting because who could turn down a gift of love? Instead, the recipient will feel ungrateful if she doesn’t love it madly and will immediately forward it with new additions: ‘You must see this. You’ll love it. It will change your life.’
In the aftermath of festival feasting, some innocent sent a joke about weight gain on a group chat. Aggressive advice pummelled her instantly. ‘You must have thyroid problems.’ And ‘You must stop eating orange foods!’ And ‘You must go to my fitness trainer. Now!!!’ A week later, the musts are still pelting her. She has nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
Someone else made the cardinal mistake of mentioning hair. Hair! Red flag to ‘musting’ bulls. ‘Thinning? You must apply curd, or you’ll go bald.’ And another, ‘You must use onions and karela.’ And another ‘Must try eggs. Only the yolks. Put the whites on your face, and the shells in flower pots.’ I myself have nothing against these good foods, though I’d rather eat them than wear them. The only time my hair had met food was when it strayed into the sambar I was secretly lapping up from the katora. My nose met it too. I am sure sambar must do good, all that vitamin C from the drumsticks. So, I musted with vigour, ‘Oh, you must try sambar, it has onion too.’
Meanwhile, I slapped egg yolk on my head, egg white on my face, eggshells in my rose plant. Instant impact! I frightened away a kid who came to collect funds for a noble cause. My bed linen smelt for weeks, along with the entire cycle of washing machine clothes, including inners, which meant we all walked with egg-citing secrets for a while. The rose plant died.
As you know, it is quite futile to fight the ‘musting’. The ‘musters’ are a helpful tribe overflowing with milk of magnesia or other (organic) juicy advice. And what of those souls who sit back and smile, without thrusting forth their own ‘musting’? You must tell them how rude they are. They must eat karela.
Where Jane De Suza, the author of ‘Happily Never After’, talks about the week’s quirks, quacks and hacks