Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No 1 Fan - Part 5 - The Gist

"My mother used to read your book to my little sister every night before she went to sleep. So every night, I'd hear your words, ringing in my ears. To be honest, I didn't think very much of your writing at first. I used to make fun of my mother and sister for reading what I thought was trash. Slowly though, as I listened to your words instead of just hearing them, I realized that there was more, so much more, just lying beneath the surface, just waiting for a discerning reader to come along. The first time I actually read one of your books, I read it cover to cover. It was an epiphany. Suddenly I'd found what I had been looking for for so many years, though I didn't know that I was looking for it. It was like your book just fit somewhere...somewhere deep inside me, in a place where neither man nor God has been, a place where there was nothing but is now so full of your brilliance; full like our plumbing after my Uncle Avranav pays a visit on Pujo."
He watched her rhapsodize in front of him with a mixture of uneasiness and amusement. Never before had he struggled to contain his laughter while desperately searching for a cop, just in case she acted as crazy as she sounded. What made it even more surreal was the fact that she was talking about him like that with...oh good God, she actually had tears in her eyes.
He suddenly noticed that she had finished and was looking expectantly at him. The old uneasiness set in.
"Er... listen...Anita. I really don't know what you're talking about. The truth is, my books don't have any kind of hidden meaning in them at all. See--"
"I knew you'd be humble."
"Um...excuse me?"
"I knew you'd try to downplay your magnificence. I knew it the minute I read Chapter Three: The Rocking-Horse of Enki-Boo."
"And, um, what about  Chapter Three: The Rocking-Horse of Enki-Boo?"
"Well it's obvious once you think about it. That's the Chapter in which you introduce Gilheridas the squirrel. The very fact that you compare Gilheridas' tail to a quill is very telling. Clearly, Gilheridas himself is an allegory for Tarun Rai, the author. You. The tail doesn't just look like a quill, it is a quill, wielded by you, the bard, the storyteller. The fact that you say Gilheridas is little is evidence that you have a tendency to belittle yourself. Gilheridas' voice is soft; in other words, you do not like to proclaim your greatnes in a loud voice. And the final stroke was when you didn't make Gilheridas a primary character, but an inconsequential one. I mean, he gets eaten by a rabid gorilla three sentences after he's introduced, for Christ's sake! Clearly you are secondary to your story, or at least you think you are. If that isn't humility, I don't know what is."
"Actually I said Gilheridas' tail looks like a quill because...well... I've always thought squirrel tails look like feathers. And I made him little because...well...squirrels are little."
"Oh come on now. You don't actually expect me to believe that, do you?"
"I really really do."
"Fine. What about Bawarchi, hmm? Don't tell me he isn't a atheistic metaphor."
"A king who became a chef? Clear reference to the Bible where God is referred to as a divine monarch. At the same time there are frequent references to a 'heavenly banquet'. By making Bawarchi a king turned chef, someone who would be expected to prepare banquets, you clearly set him up to represent the Almighty. However, the story dwells on how powerless he is and how he can do nothing without the help of children. Children. A clear indication that you believe in the theory that God is a creation of Man and not vice versa; that without Man, God has no meaning."
"Are you serious?! I haven't even read the Bible! And don't go calling me an atheist in front of my mom, she'll kill me! She already makes me spend an hour at the temple everyday ever since that time she caught me reading..I am not...not...an atheist. I make donations to the local pundit, I fast every Tuesday, I-I-."
"Mr. Rai?"
You're rambling."
"Now let's talk about Neha. Obviously a personification of the emancipation of the Modern Indian Woman who isn't afraid to try new sexual experiences and indulge in deviant behaiour."
"What?! She's seven frikkin' years old!"
"Interesting choice of numbers. Seven deadly sins anyone? Anyway, that one's pretty much a certainty. After all, she is riding a centaur on the cover. Half-man, half-horse? And you're telling me that isn't a fetish?"
"Yes, she's riding on a centaur, but she's also riding with her brother."
"Don't even get me started on that. Plus, in the book, she gets a magic staff. Magic staff? Could that be any more Freudian?"
"You. Are. SICK!"
"Her mother's name is Savita? Come on. Does that ring a bell?"
He then sat in stunned silence while Anita proceeded to link the fact that his second book was called Indian Fairy Tales to homoeroticism, the colour of one of his character's eyes to the rampant corruption in the current government and the names of a group of crickets in his latest book to his (supposed) hatred for the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
For a while, he listened to her occasionally throwing in horrified interjections and corrections which she listened to patiently and then completely ignored. Then, when the constant stream of deductions became no more than a meaningless flow of words (turtle...Impressionism...dwarf....freedom of press), he started toying with the idea of pretending that his works really were insightful and full of undiscovered worth. But he'd been raised to be honest and, more importantly, he was reasonably certain that if he played along with this girl, his situation might change from that of any B-grade rom-com to something along the lines of Misery.
So it was around the point that she definitively proved that his desciption of a lake in his short story The First Gnome of Chlork was proof of his secret Communist beliefs that he said:

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