It seems to be no mean a feat that our Little Master kept his feet firmly on the ground despite being subjected to hyperboles expended on him — the greatest batsman of all time with many big records to his name, sharing big moments with a heart bigger than his bat. With Sachin Tendulkar gone, we must not begrudge that it was indeed an end of a hyperbolic era.
I admit that one must be entitled to one’s superlatives, and given that we must all come to accept by extension that Sardar Patel was the “most powerful man of his time”, the Mahatma “the most respected”, Jawaharlal Nehru “the most loved” and Subhas Bose the “most longed-for”.
But you can condone the media and advertising in the sense that they need to thrive on hyperboles often as a ruse for hyper-ventilation. What about us? This tendency of drumming up a drama where none exists has become a social disease.
Therefore, terms such as ‘frickin’ brilliant’ are used alike to describe the genius of Albert Einstein and the savouring experience of a lone watermelon martini, as ‘awesome’ is used to describe a sighting of the Aurora Borealis in as even-handed a manner as to describe onion pakodas bought from a dhaba. In this age of two minutes’ of fame, circumscribed by ghettoes and pockets of influence, people take to superlatives with a panache quicker than they catch a cold.
Thus Mr X is the hottest guy on the planet, Miss Y creates the coolest fashion in town, not to speak of the harmless best moms and dads strutting about the domain of charmed circles. Thus in the uncharted scales of our minds, we have the craziest of lovers, crankiest of entrepreneurs, wildest of dreams, from each according to our ability and our need unqualified by time, space or geography.
Trouble is, if my meal was mind-blowing, other meals have got to be good.
So far, I grew so insanely sceptic about the mad flurry of hyperboles thrown around us, akin to the random spraying of bullets from an assault rifle in a war-zone, that I tended to accept them – in nine times out of 10 – with a pinch of salt, barring only the empirical fixities like Russia is the biggest country in the world in terms of land mass, while Vatican City is the smallest.
To keep up with the Joneses, I, therefore, feel the urgent need to like, no, superlike this amazingly fantastic practice of magnifying the most colourful and the most trite experiences of our lives in often their weirdest details and to see myself as being a sucker for the superlatives, totally, absolutely, hoping someday that the awesomest would beat the awesomer among us hands down, while the awesome would furtively slink away in a silent remove.
Ideally though, the fit has as much right to survive as the fittest, Herbert Spencer be damned.
(Prasenjit Chowdhury is a Kolkata-based commentator)
The views expressed by the author are personal