2017, Column, LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

The mimic has now gone missing

An anxiety beginning to mount, like the cash-machine lines of yester. A shiver having trespassed time and arrived out of turn, this nowhere season ahead of winter, this Dreiserene interregnum between glare and gloom. That shiver then having crept up the spine like poison ivy on wet ventrals and turned the insistent shape of a question: Where’s Mahadeb?

Mahadeb having been gone an inexplicably long while by now. So long his signature has become a void. The holes on his leftover lungi having turned imperially expansionist and claimed the whole of it, the tatters having turned to bare thread and dropped, like expiring worms, onto his cold forsaken hearth. The coals in it having turned to ash, the ash having been cajoled by kindred elements to become its destined part – ash unto ash, the final truth. Also known as the heartily consumed tip of my cigarette.

But that’s indulgence; it’s up to nothing. It’s no help to this untimely and uncontainable anxiety, beginning to mount, cold and forlorn as Fujiyama. Where’s Mahadeb, the long and inexplicably gone one? Where, more pertinently, is Mahadeb’s tea, Mahadeb be damned. The loyal votaries wondered long. They waited long. Then said so long. They forgot the taste of tea and took to coffee. Off mechanised vends; frothy on promise, watery on delivery. But how long were they to wait? Nobody waits upon another too long, they proceed to other things – the intermediate truth. Also known as the cigarette after this one’s turned to ash and been flicked.

None of that has yet brought us any closer to the issue of the immediate truth: Where’s Mahadeb? Has be been taken off air? But that cannot be because Mahadeb was never on air. Not radio, not television. Not Facebook, not Twitter, not WhatsApp, not PeriscopeLive, none of that virtual air we breathe to be the oxygen of our lives, banish the thought. Mahadeb cannot be taken off air, whatever his sin. And if indeed that’s the case we must assume far worse than what we do when we learn so-and-Rangeela-so has been taken off air. Taken off air in Mahadeb’s case would mean taken off essential supplies. The noose. Finito. Kaput. Or however you put it in the language NumberToo uses to report to TheBoss-OfAllThings, but which is not fit to print here.

It turns out Mahadeb has rendered himself guilty of a grievous, and utterly punishable, offence. He has been mimicking. And mimicking in a street as broad as daylight for personal profit. He’s been serving tea. Now who does that without causing unholy offence? Who in their right mind can be so anti-nationally heretical as to mimick TheBossOfAllThings who patented TheChaiwala trademark about the time he triumphally led NewIndia to Independence from the epochal deficits of NothingHappened Circa 2014? Serving tea is a dastardly lampoon act. Unpardonable. Now, they did use to say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but that rested with such offending jailbirds as Oscar Wilde and was happily buried on the cusp between NothingHappened and NewIndia. You mimic; you suffer. Our forefathers left unto us the warning fable of the monkey that recklessly copied his master. One day, he picked up the razor and began to shave and left his face pitilessly bloodied. That’s what comes of mimicking.

If he’s fortunate, there stands a slim chance that the saviour clause called benefit of doubt can apply here because it is possible Mahadeb came into felony in the bliss of ignorance. He’s oblivious of news, which may be an offence in itself. But a case may yet be argued. He’s not knowingly sinned. I haven’t in all my years, heard him address any collective as “Mitron” or “Bhaaiyon-Behnon”; he never turned up on his stove dressed in Gucci or Armani or Fendi, he committed no such offendi; he never took orders glaring down at clients on a Bvlgari nose-bridge; he never thought to stride out in a pistachio kurta buckled under a champagne-pink bandi. No. Never. For him only the vest yellowed by the smoke of his labours and the lungi monogrammed with holes. And now even the lungi’s gone. As, alas, is Mahadeb.

But grieve not too much
If you haven’t a dear soul seen
Have it, and do to faith clutch
For this is only a long Halloween.

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