Phiss Phuss Boom
Sayoni Basu
Sayoni Basu
age group: 
9+ yrs
Number of pages: 
grandparents farts humour kerala Goa Bengal
fiction humour


IN MY house, the grandmother of fart jokes, songs and stories was my older sister. She would put the colloquial word in Tamil to full use and it never ceased to amaze me the amount of variations she could come up with. Reading Phiss Phuss Boom brought back those memories with the warmth of an afternoon shower and the delight of shared laughter. Every family has its own fart stories, and Phiss Phuss Boom, based on the stories the authors had heard from their grandparents, perfectly captures that – unity in diversity, shall we say – in three precisely pitched, humorously engaging and immediately relatable stories.
The first story is by Anoushka Ravishankar titled Lijimol and Jijimon. Set in Kerala, we enter the lives of the twins who are facing their worst fears – Jijimon is challenged by Appukutten to a swimming competition, and if Jijimon loses (which everyone knows he will), then Lijimol has to give up her long hair (which everyone knows would be a disaster because their grandmother had said the twins’ brain powers were in Lijimol’s hair). Lijimol, who loves her science, finds an ingenious solution in the world of gas and the brave Jijimon full of potatoes, beans, cabbage, lentils, chickpeas, is as ready as a jet-fuelled propeller and, well, saves the day.
The second one, my favourite of the lot for its refreshing narrative, is by Jerry Pinto and is titled Attulem and Bittulem. This one is set in Goa and we meet the sisters Attulem and Bittulem who speak in a secret language of monosyllables that only they understand, but Pinto gives us a helpful glossary to decode their conversations. They are on their way to meet their friend when they encounter a monster. So ‘Attulem turned around. RESOUNDING SOUND. Monster’s eye hit the ground’. Bittulem tackles the other eye and they reach their friend, Monsterlem’s house, only to discover the monster they had encountered earlier was Monsterlem’s father. Thankfully, the eyes are replaceable, Monsterlem’s mum gives them ‘cake seed for tea’ – a seed that grows into a tree of cakes – and all’s well that ends well.
The final story by Sayoni Basu – Shontu and Gontu – is set in Bengal and we enter the vibrant Bengali household as they get ready for Shontu to ‘see’ a girl for his future wedding. With his nephew, Gontu, Shontu arrives at the girl’s house and Gontu, with a head full of instructions from his mother, his mother’s mother, his mother’s mother’s mother, becomes central to the meeting with his diligence at following those instructions, and he helps in, shall we say, clearing the air of awkwardness in a new meeting.
A special mention for the ‘fartwork by Vinayak Varma’, whose illustrations for each of the stories ups the laughter quotient – a hard-earned merit indeed with the stories already brimming with the funnies.
So, go on, pick up Phiss Phuss Boom because how ‘fart’ can an adventure go? Clearly, very ‘fart’, indeed.

Reviewed by Praveena Shivram