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If nothing works, pour blue ink on the writers

columns Updated: Oct 18, 2015 12:21 IST
Manas Chakravarty
Sahitya Akademi

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.