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If nothing works, pour blue ink on the writers

columns Updated: Oct 18, 2015 12:21 IST
Manas Chakravarty
The Sahitya Akademi bookstore at the busy Kashmere Gate station in New Delhi.
The Sahitya Akademi bookstore at the busy Kashmere Gate station in New Delhi.(HT File Photo)

Me: Sir, what do you think of all these writers returning their awards?

Alleged Sahitya Akademi Guy: It’s terrible, terrible.

Me: At this rate, you’ll run out of space to store all the returned stuff. Are you getting new cupboards?

ASAG: What? It’s our image I’m worried about.

Me: Can’t you do something about it?

ASAG: We’re trying to persuade the writers to protest differently. They could do hunger-strikes or candle-light marches. Even a nude protest is better than this.

Me: Won’t work, boss. What’s plan B?

ASAG: These chaps are writers. Why don’t they protest by writing?

Me: Absolutely. They could write gut-wrenching novels about the horrors in our society.

ASAG: Ummm…maybe look on the positive side? Don’t want to run the country down, eh?

Me: You wouldn’t want to spread disaffection against the state?

ASAG: Precisely. Nor besmirch the country’s image abroad.

Me: Obviously not. Historical novels?

ASAG: Best avoid history, it’s a touchy subject.

Me: Also shun all mention of caste, creed, religion?

ASAG: Naturally, why focus on the divisive?

Me: Romantic novels then?

ASAG: Sure, sure…as long as they’re of the same religion and they remember their gotra.

Me: Ummm…how about cookbooks?

ASAG: Fine, of course you must leave out you-know-what.

Me: Eh? Ah, of course.

ASAG: Not good to hurt people’s feelings. And we have lots of easily hurt feelings.

Me: Er.. This might not work, boss. You have plan C?

ASAG: Yes. See, it’s my constitutional duty to give literary awards, right?

Me: Yes?

ASAG: So returning them is hampering me in performing my constitutional role. It’s an act of literary terrorism.

Me: Look boss, arresting them won’t help. Plan D?

ASAG: I call Plan D the master plan.

Me: Really?

ASAG: Yup. I agree the writers have a right to protest. But we too have the right to protest against the protest.

Me: It’s a free country.

ASAG: So we can either refuse to accept the awards they return or, even better, re-return them to the writers.

Me: Wow. What if they refuse to take it back?

ASAG: We’ve already told the couriers to quietly sneak it into their houses.

Me: What if they re-re-send it back?

ASAG: We’ll just re-re-re-send it to them. We can continue this game as long as we want. They’ll run up a fortune in courier bills. We, on the other hand, have already got bulk discounts from courier companies.

Me: Sheer genius, sir.

ASAG: I’ve thought of a back-up Plan E too, to be used only if this award jihad gets out of control. We’ll just pour ink over them, non-violently, the Shiv Sena way. Not black ink, of course, that’s fascist.

Me: Red ink then?

ASAG: Red is communist.

Me: Ah.

ASAG: Blue should do.