‘Ladies and Gentlemen,’ said the Walrus, “The time has come to talk of many things, of shoes and ships and elections — of cabbages and kings; and why Jinnah is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.” “We need to know why the people no longer love Blunderland and where did we go wrong”, he added.
The first to speak up was Humpty Dumpty, who laid the blame squarely on the king’s horses and the king’s men. “I was just sitting quietly on the wall,” he sighed. “So ok, I slipped and fell, that could happen to anybody. But why couldn’t the king’s horses and men put me together again? They’re terribly incompetent.” Old King Cole retorted that Mr Dumpty was talking rot and that he personally knew his three fiddlers were the best in the business. The King of Hearts thought the Knave was to blame. “A person who steals tarts can do anything”, he said.
A heavily bandaged Jack got up and said he personally held Jill responsible, alleging she lured him to go up the hill and then pushed him down. Jill flared up and pointed out that had she pushed him she would scarcely have come tumbling after. Most of the girls, however, laid the blame for the debacle completely on Georgie-Porgie. “He was such a bad kisser he made us cry,” said an aggrieved female. The three blind mice said they were all wrong and the real culprit was the farmer’s wife. “People would have voted for us if she hadn’t cut off our tails with a carving knife,” they said.
At that, Little Miss Muffet got up from her tuffet and said she believed a cunning spider had scared away the voters. “I’m sure he’s at the centre of a vast web of deceit,” she added. Little Jack Horner smugly said he had done no wrong. He stuck his thumb in a pie, pulled out a plum and said, “What a good boy am I.” Baa Baa Black Sheep thought that Little Bo-Peep was to be blamed because she had behaved irresponsibly by losing her sheep.
And in the midst of all the commotion the Queen of Hearts went about screaming, “Off with their heads.”
It was the Walrus who finally restored a semblance of sanity. He urged them to look carefully at the competition. “Why do the people prefer Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Tom and Jerry to us?” he asked. Humpty Dumpty said that was because they didn’t stick to one script. “We on the other hand have to stick to the core values on which Blunderland is founded,” he shouted. Baa Baa Black Sheep pointed out that Kim Jong-Il had said, “Great ideology creates great times.”
Georgie-Porgie drew their attention to the philosopher Louis Althusser’s dictum that ‘ideology is indispensable in any society if men are to be formed, transformed and equipped to respond to the demands of their conditions of existence.’ “We must read the directions and directly we will be directed in the right direction,” he added. Pooh emphasised that “The Bhagavad Gita says, ‘As the great ones behave, so do the rest of the people.’” All of them then started to squabble vociferously and vehemently.
And as the arguments got louder and the confusion increased, Mary and her little lamb, the one that was sure to go everywhere that Mary went and who had a beard as white as snow, watched the mayhem on TV and sniggered.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint