Saturday, May 24, 2014

Paroxysms of Truth


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.

PS: I tried to be humorous and learnt that humour is meant for geniuses. 


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10 comments:

  1. Hehe Sir This is your third Modi post, I would hardly say you stayed away from politics! I enjoyed reading each of them.
    Ps: subtle humour works here :)

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    1. I'm sure Mr Modi won't let me leave politics :)
      'The Economist' has placed Mr Modi on the cover. The lead article is of the opinion that Mr Modi will take India to great heights. There's much I need to learn from this kind of politics. :)

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  2. The media is modified. No matter what he said in the past. Its all past. Now every media want to focus on the modified India. Otherwise they know that it affects their viewership.

    Thanks for all the Modi posts. Each one of them gave us some new insights. Hope you are not modified though ! :-)

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    1. I will remain a faithful critic of Mr Modi. He may find the going tougher than he had imagined. See the way the Tamils are opposing his decision to invite the Sri Lankan President. Some allies like the Shiv Sena are not happy with the Pak PM's visit either. If Mr Modi leaves Mr Advani and MM Joshi out of the cabinet, another problem will arise... Mr Modi will find in me a faithful friend :)

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  3. I found this post engrossing. Honestly, I had to google a couple of references. Looking forward to more Politics related posts from you :)

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    1. I didn't want to make it so tough with so many literary allusions. But it happens sometimes. Some topics can't be made very simple. After all, Mr Modi is not a simple man. Thanks for the trouble you took to understand the post.

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  4. After I read your this post, I thought of saying...stop writing about politics so much. Reading your earlier posts made me feel you touch upon a lot of underlying things which are important. But then I figure politics and Mr. Modi is what interests you and your loyal readers the most (going by the comments section). So, I take your leave.

    P.S: Please dont get lost.

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    1. We are all pilgrims who meet and depart. Glad if we can meet again. Glad otherwise too. Glad you were here.

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  5. because politics is such a haunting ghost that rises from its grave in all ages....

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    1. Much as we may wish to ignore politics, we will be haunted by it, no doubt. All the more so in a democracy.

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