Kasa kai? You know, at first I thought, shit, I’m writing to a fellow Maharashtrian, not in Marathi – that most sacred of languages used to pour poetic sentiment into Dhagala Lagli Kala – but in English, the language that reeks of our shameful colonial past. I had mentally prepared myself to see your boys storming the offices of Blogger ready to burn down anything flammable they see. But then I thought, hey, the dude’s great-grand-dad actually CHANGED HIS LAST NAME just because he thought William Makepeace Thackeray was cool, and this post isn’t even going to be the utter drivel that Vanity Fair was, so I’m sure his great-grand-kid will overlook this little offence.
So anyway, to the subject of this little letter. I’ve been reading about your shenanighans with Such A Long Journey. I won’t even bring up the whole what-did-Rohinton-Mistry-ever-do-to-you bit, because it’s pointless. I mean, come on. The man’s a Parsi. In Canada. That makes him about as threatening as a geriatric rabbit. So clearly, it’s not about the author.
It can’t be about the book either, since you cleverly told the media that you hadn’t actually read it. So what basically happened was that someone came up to you and told you that there’s this book that a lot of Lit students are studying (or at least reading through without understanding any of it) that says objectionable stuff about something your granddad once said. Or did.
And instead of ignoring them like a normal boy, you get all Peter Pan about it and put a blowtorch to good use. No, really, think about it. The only people who’re actually reading Such A Long Journey right now are English Lit students, their professors and some four invigilators employed by Bombay (whoops, Bombay) University. Your little book-burning party is going to make a lot more than these thirty-five people buy a copy. Ask Salman Rushdie, nothing helped the book sales of The Moor’s Last Sigh more than your grand-dad calling for a ban on it.
So the only possible motivation for this could’ve been that little Aditya wants to play with the big boys. Fancy ourselves a youth leader, do we? See, that’s the trouble with you Thackerays. You think the only way to be a leader is to lead people into doing things of mind-numbing stupidity. Hitler had followers, you know. So did Stalin and Mussolini and Mao, possibly even Marie Antoinette. Having followers doesn’t make you a good leader. It’s what they follow you into.
Your great-grand-dad got Brahmins beaten up. Your grand-dad did the same with South Indians. Your uncle’s picking on North Indians and your poor, poor dad is desperately trying to prove that he is genetically a Thackeray, but what to do, there aren’t many people left to beat up.
And you, you just beat the shit out of some words. Very macho. Treating the Chancellor of the University like your bitch must’ve been a real power trip. You must think it’s fun to get someone to do things you want, na? Well, sixteen year old princesses get their darling daddies to do it ALL THE TIME. Doesn’t make them leaders. It just makes them sixteen year old spoilt brats. And cuteness comes with a shelf-life, something you’ll never know by virtue of not being even remotely cute.
But, I digress.
You want to be a youth leader in Maharashtra? Get your gang to go educate the illiterates of this state. Get them to study medicine and become doctors and take that medicine into the remotest parts of the state, yes, even to places where you won’t find voters, only people drowning in despair and illness who think hospitals are just another cruel rumour like electricity and safe drinking water.
And by all means, get the media to cover it all so that you come out like a hero, if Salman Khan can do it, you can too. But lead people into good, kid, into good, not mindless, senseless, pointless acts of illiteracy.
Do that and maybe you’ll deserve to be called a youth leader. Till then, Aditya, you’re just a little boy with a borrowed last name. And once you get someone to translate this post for you, I hope you don’t forget that.