Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Cult of the Anti-Story

The Shah of Blah had run out of the water subscription from the Sea of Gup. He had to peer blinkingly through the looming shroud of silence that the Land of Chup cast over his cheerful story-telling self.

Meanwhile in the Land of Chup.....
The ruler of the Land of Chup or Khattam-Shud was not simply a nonbeliever of stories, a foe to the narrative tradition. He was also a nonbeliever of utopias, a heretic in the fairy tale world, a feared enemy of the world of beginnings and ends, the happily ever afters and the once upon a times. His religion was the antithesis of organized religion, familiar and reworkable myths, predictable plots or for that matter, radical plots, recognized motifs of the handsome prince, the evil witch, the gullible princess, the scheming step-mother, the humane and the human beast.

The Rasas, namely love, mirth, disgust, fury, compassion, horror, heroism, wonder who were the sentinels of the Land of Gup, mistrusted him and not all the gardeners of the Land of Gup could weed out the deep anarchy that had poisoned the roots of the Hoary Story Tree. Already, the metaphors were withering away, already, the allegories were paling, the tropes swaying dangerously and the fables counting their days. But what the Eggheads, the Blabbermouth, the Shahs of Blah that the Land of Gup spawned did not see was that the ruler of Chup was a man with a mission. He was not simply a man who enjoyed a moment of quiet and God, those Gupwallahs talked so much! Shut up already, won't you?

He was also a man who hated the mindless utopia, the pointless cheerfulness, the story-says-it-all, the all's well that ends well or the c'est la vie tragique. In short, he must wage war on the Cult of the Narrative Journalist. He must expose the seedy underbelly of the story-telling crooks peopled by Contradictions, Facile Explanations, Fabrication and Misinterpretation.

He sought to take the war into the very heart of Gup. He must colonize the heart and mind of the son of the Guppest of them all. He must reform Narouh, the son of the Shah of Blah. It would simply not do to teach the world to mistrust the little boy who spoke too much and who told stories to his mother. He must train the journalist out of him when it was still an unpaid intern working for that shifty, gobbledegooking, two-faced Shadir. He must educate the little boy, Narouh of the three principles of Narrative Journalism,

1. Go sniffing for a story even if there isn't one.
2. Get people to say the things you want.
3. Use a lot of numbers and big words.

Then he educated the little boy of the three Assumptions of Narrative Journalism and in short, those of the Land of Gup,

1. People like stories.
2. All stories are happy stories.
3. The world is a better place for having heard a story.

He then told Narouh about the Narrative Journalist in the fearsome jungle that wrote about the M-people. Unlike the Gupwallahs, the Lord of Chup was a man of subtlety. He did not tell the boy that this Gupwallah was well-versed in the DoubleSpeak of Journalese. For, after all, didn't that amount to indicting, incriminating, and condemning the Gupwallah in his own vocabulary of redundancy and big, fancy words? He instead thought to play clever. He told them how this Gupwallah worked and what his personal convictions were. This Gupwallah was happy, very, very happy when the M-people one day charged into the camp of the Good Soldiers and did away quietly with each one of them.

Then he told Narouh about the immature Gup who believed he "should" because he "could". He told him about the wastefulness of the Gups who played games, whacked off people, blew up things, checked out random, hot women in a virtual world of make-believe. All because they could. And all because it made for a Good Story. Fie, fie..., added the Lord of Chup for good measure. After all, even He couldn't help his occasional lapses into Gup when he came face to face with its evil.

Then he told Narouh about the scheming academic that spent every living day plotting her research, moulding and beating into shape every detail into a narrative that she worked out backwards, having first reached her conclusion. He told Narouh that this girl was a Gup and a Narrative Journalist through other means. By using words like "empirical", "alterity", “phantasmagorical” and "hermeneutic", she was the Enemy of Clarity and Knowledge. Asked to defend her research and asked how something worked, she replied, well, why, of course, by P2CTE or Processes Too Complicated to Explain.

Thus began the education of Narouh who was formally initiated into the Cult of the Anti-Story, the Cult of the Non-Narrators.

Dedicated to the Guppest of the Gups I know.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Listening to your fears

Robby saw him first. He was sitting quite meekly with his tail firmly tucked between his legs in the ICJ compound. He was not tiny, at least not heart-wrenchingly tiny, but he looked vulnerable and at any rate, an adorable darling. He bounced eagerly forward when Robby and Madhu came close and began to promptly nibble at Robby’s rather faded jeans. Revathy smittenly looked turned out the little beast had quite a thing for dupattas, jumping surprisingly high to tear away her dupatta as she tried to get past. A tug of dupatta ensued when Gopal burst into the scene and with enviable ease, gently retrieved the sharply punctured garment, offering his own finger for the ‘mutt’ to nibble.
Henceforth, Leo, an unlikely name that the idly uncle should choose for him, greeted every student of ICJ with a friendly bark and doggy banter which translated into sinking his teeth into the nearest trousers. He never left the compound except to eat at the idly uncle’s little setup. Revathy’s initial cutesy liking to him turned quickly into irritation and impatience whenever she had to scale the compound by herself which meant undivided and teething love. She would shoo at him in vain, brandish her bag threateningly at him, raise her voice to a shrill pitch and eventually dash for it. And she never seemed to remember about him, so that every time she unthinkingly turned the corner, she sprang out of her skin at the sound of a delighted bark. She always felt slightly ashamed when she was safely inside and she turned back triumphantly only to see Leo look dazed and a little less waggy. But she couldn’t help it, the dog was gnawingly irritating.
She however marvelled at how this did not in any way faze or daunt her friends from fawning over the scrawny thing. It was almost like they were always already trained to deal with aggressive dog behaviour and this didn’t embolden her any to deal with Leo. If anything she resented the dog for making her look like she didn’t take to dogs-she really loved dogs, she was just not accustomed to seeing them through this youthful, dogosterone-filled phase. Even Poonam (in hindsight, Revathy saw the syntactical error of ‘even’, as Poonam had a dog very early on) eagerly enjoyed being scratched and beleaguered by the creature. The dog was now affecting her conscience and her consciousness-with every passing day, she was an envious and anxious witness to new persons willing themselves to be assaulted by the dog, while she kept a safe distance and when alone with the dog, still unable to change tactics. Revathy was now cognizant of a strange complex-of being a dog-lover but not being recognized as such. Couldn’t it stop loving with its teeth for a minute, so she could pet its patchy brown head?
Soon, ICJites grew so used to Leo and Leo so used to them that he would come bounding out of the compound at the sight of them even when entering the lane. It was one such day when Poonam, Revathy and Nina got out of the bus and started walking towards the lane when they saw it happen. Revathy could recollect the incident only in a blur as it all happened in such quick motion but she could somehow still see Poonam vividly, in her anguish, cry out and race forwards. Leo had as usual, torn out of the compound at the sight of them and just as they turned into the lane, he came in the direct range of an over-speeding car. A creaking halt, an agonizing squeal followed by Poonam’s scream. The driver looked furtively behind, saw an enraged Poonam and accelerated involuntarily. A trail of dust and he was gone. Nina and Revathy stood transfixed for a shocked minute before they rushed to join Poonam. Leo was bleeding only slightly, but something had happened to him. He couldn’t move his head and his left foot gave way every time he tried to painfully stand up. He kept whimpering appealingly to them-Poonam and Nina picked him up helped by idly uncle who too was too shocked to immediately react and they climbed into an auto.
Later, Revathy heard that he was taken to a nearby veterinary hospital. ICJites didn’t see him for the next week, and when a week became a fortnight, Revathy asked Gopal where he was. Gopal looked a little shocked and said, “But you must have seen him, he lies down just next to idly uncle’s shop. He is still badly hurt, so he can’t move” And there he was, when Revathy remembered to look for him. No bark, no bite, no wag, it was not Leo she saw. It was some dog in unspeakable agony, with sorrowful eyes and a strange funnel that hung around his neck. She couldn’t linger much, she couldn’t hold back the guilty tears as she held herself responsible for wishing the dog less friendly. Leo began to limp in a month and by the time they left, his limp was almost gone, but they never saw him in the compound again. A year later, when they visited ICJ, Leo was gone as was the idly uncle.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

You bring out the Sambarkaari in me

You bring out the Sambarkaari in me
That inspires the urge to effortlessly praise
in umaginative superlatives, no less than Sooper
That goads me to break into harsh expletives
and call you Mairu, Dadiyaa and Padupaavi

You bring out the Sambarkaari in me
That exasperates me into cutting short your draabei
Begging you to not mokka podu pleeese
That is wary of your lascivious advances
And asks you why you can’t kadala podu elsewhere?

You bring out the Sambarkaari in me
That burps shamelessly and eats with her elbows
And sighs orgasmically after every Saravanna meal
That lauds the morkozhambu and can't digest the kadi
And fears the fervour and the evangelism of the madi

You bring out the Sambarkaari in me
That bursts in melody and rhapsody
To Rehman and Bombay Jaishree, to Chitra and SPBee
That scoffs at Hindustani and sings the Amritavarshini

You bring out the Sambarkaari in me
That glories in the lusty swing and dance
of the dabbamkoothu and the dantanaka
and the merriment of Vivek kaamedy

You bring out the Sambarkaari in me
The indecency of the Marina tourist
The sucker for mambazham and mambalam
The enthusiast for ten-rupee flicks at Sathyam

You bring out the Sambarkaari in me
That adores the gaudy getups of Rambha
And the feisty rumba of Prabhu Deva
And the maudlin mush of Tamil cinema

You bring out the Sambarkaari in me
The effervescence of the Boomboom Maadu
The reputation of the Sandakozhi
That is always looking to get her pazhi

You bring out the Sambarkaari in me
You make me daydream about swe 'nallapayyans'
You give me the vazhapazham vibes
You know not how you praise me when you call me Sambarkaari...

Inspired by You bring out the UP-walli in me (
and in turn by the You bring out the Mexican in me (