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Cuss and them

VS Naipaul is an equal opportunities discriminator. But his offensive remarks don’t startle us anymore.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2010 23:25 IST
Hindustan Times

To be labelled a racist, a misogynist and an Islamophobe might be enough to send lesser mortals running for cover. But for celebrated author Sir Vidia Naipaul, such epithets are badges of honour. Nothing seems to get him going quite as much as getting the knife into those whom he considers are outside the pale of the pale-skinned in whose club he has been a paid up member ever since he escaped the barracoons of the Caribbean. And to give him his due, he never fails to get us natives all hot under the collar with his well-aimed barbs.

And to top it all, he is an equal opportunities discriminator. From his acerbic remarks about the squalor of India to the feline and canine eating habits of Africans, old Vidia lays about us lesser mortals with gusto. If, say, Ian McEwan had dared to call us coolies and wogs and commented on our less than salubrious surroundings, he’d probably be cooling his heels at the International Court of Justice. But Naipaul being one of us on account of his skin colour can take a whack at the natives and live to insult another day. We have got so used to his bilious outbursts that even the trigger-happy jihadis did nothing more than mutter oaths and imprecations under their breath when he took a shot or two at Islam. There are advantages to being King Coon, after all.

The winning thing about Naipaul is that when he runs out of steam, he has a back-up in the form of his wife Nadira the Nasty. She managed to create a bit of a kerfuffle when she let the world know that Winnie Mandela didn’t think that Nelson was quite the cat’s whiskers. But we admire his spirit. At an age when most men would be sitting around dandling the grandchildren on their knees, Naipaul can still get our dander up. And so we leave you with a question which if you answer correctly will entitle you to a personal insult from the Tyrant of Trinidad. What is brown on the outside, white on the inside and acidic all over?

First Published: Aug 23, 2010 23:23 IST