|Proceed at your own risk|
“I contend that there are no whole truths, there are only pertinent truths – and pertinence, you must agree, is always a matter of perspective.”
The quote is from the arduous novel that won the Booker Prize last year, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. The emphases are added by this author who is still plodding through the novel one week after he started reading it.
When Mr Narendra Modi, the Emperor of the South Asian Region, invited the whole Luminaries of the (defunct) SAARC continent to his coronation ceremony, truth began to wiggle and wriggle in my solar plexus until it became a paroxysm. I had decided to ignore politics in my writing. But my new Prime Minister won’t let me do it, it seems. He is the actor par excellence. Nobody in Indian politics will ever outshine him in histrionics, I am quite sure.
Robert Graves may be inspired to resurrect himself from his grave to write yet another sequel to his unparalleled novel, I, Claudius.
“I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as "Claudius the Idiot", or "That Claudius", or "Claudius the Stammerer", or "Clau-Clau-Claudius" or at best as "Poor Uncle Claudius", am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the "golden predicament" from which I have never since become disentangled.”
Claudius the Emperor. Unhappy childhood. Child marriage. Marital longings. Power unlimited working like a drug to counteract human longings. Feeling pangs of love again and declaring it in some affidavit...
Mr Modi questioned the ruling party whenever it tried to engage Pakistan on friendly discussions. As long as Pak-sponsored terrorism in India does not end, there must be no dialogue. The docile Manmohan Singh buckled his boots and eventually hung them up. The princely Gandhi buckled down under the pressure of the dying empire. William Dalrymple is planning to write his next book titled The Last Gandhi.
Pakistan is still trying to come to terms with the new Indian Empire. To attend the coronation or not to attend. The Hamlet in Sharif is wondering whether he should be sharif with the Uncle on the Throne.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam in a corner of India can scream itself as hoarse as it wants against the Sri Lankan President’s presence at the coronation of Modi on account of what that country did to the Tamils. But the the Vindhyas will block all anti-Modi clouds and convert them into rains for the arid political landscapes in the lands where the wars that really mattered were fought.
China knows all the games that any Emperor anywhere in the world knows. Opium still grows in Tibet.
Does any other nation in SAARC matter? Does it matter whether any maidservant in the palace is alive or dead? What matters is that they should pay homage to the crown in the manner that befits each one’s status.
“I have done many impious things--no great ruler can do otherwise. I have put the good of the Empire before all human considerations. To keep the Empire free from factions I have had to commit many crimes.” Robert Graves is rising from his grave to write his sequel.
But Eleanor Catton tells him, “Come on, buddy, your time is over. The century has changed. We play a different set of games. More dangerous games. Funnier games. The same old wine but the bottle matters.”
And Graves returns to his grave in spite of himself.
The coronation takes place. One empire dies and another takes birth. As naturally as Nicholas bowed down to Stalin.