Friday, October 22, 2010

So, how does Rohinton Mistry react?

I don't know how a writer - Rohinton Mistry in this case - exactly feels when one of his major works - award-winning Such a long journey-is all of a sudden banned or prohibited with a base and despicable motive(actually a ploy to raise the profile of the youngest member of the Shiv Sena's ruling Thackeray family, Aditya, who is currently a student at Mumbai University.) Mistry, hugely knowledgeable about India and its politics, analyzes the event dispassionately and responds to his book ban with great eloquence and dignity.

As for the grandson of the Shiv Sena leader, the young man who takes credit for the whole pathetic business, who admits to not having read the book, just the few lines that offend him and his bibliophobic brethren, he has now been inducted into the family enterprise of parochial politics, anointed leader of its newly minted “youth wing”. What can — what should — one feel about him? Pity, disappointment, compassion? Twenty years old, in the final year of a BA in History, at my own Alma Mater, the beneficiary of a good education, he is about to embark down the Sena’s well-trodden path, to appeal, like those before him, to all that is worst in human nature.

Does he have to? No. He is clearly equipped to choose for himself. He could lead, instead of following, the old regime. He could say something radical — that burning and banning books will not feed one hungry soul, will not house one homeless person nor will it provide gainful employment to anyone (unless one counts those hired to light bonfires), not in Mumbai, not in Maharashtra, not anywhere, not ever.

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