Thursday, 25 July 2013

Let's Play Hide And Seek

They said that the Chinese were moving in and out of the border adding dimensions to the art of what they whispered as Chinese incursion. Faces were tightened into scowls and fists were clenched as indignation was mounting, demanding stern action from the state. But it was a policy of a divine wait expecting a miracle to happen in the best of bonhomie. It did happen with the Chinese chuckling to them and withdrawing in a condescending manner, with eggs on the face of the government that relished the sigh of relief. An Indian seized with nationalist fervour and who complained of being shoved into gloom, scribbled his random observations in the diary.

The king was looking naive when the messenger entered with an expression on his face that he had perfected assiduously before being visible before the highest office. He had to give the king a piece of news to which he did not want to attach his views for more reasons than one. Yet when he did come tense and stiff, he had his mouth full of news that could be the delight of the media. The smart messenger knew that the media in the kingdom had been downsized to the string of some poets who loved to sing the paeans of the king. The one or two, who had been exceptional, chose to look the other way stumbling on many things that would make one shudder. But they could not evade the mighty attempt of the state to clip their wings.  This was the price that had been exacted from them for the way they proved to be inquisitive.

The messenger looked stunning on that day with the nature of the expression on his face with tears in his eyes, making him one of the most crafty and lovable men in the kingdom. The king was playing chess with the minister who had been inwardly unhappy with the steady drop in the number of his concubines. Yet he flashed the best of his diplomatic smiles in keeping with the mood of the game, urging the king to be at his best. But the sudden entry of the messenger with a look of devastation on his face otherwise handsome seemed to turn the game of chess into something bland like the liquidation of the latest of the companies mishandled by the son in law of the minister.

The king turned to the messenger secretly admiring the tautness of the skin on his beautiful face and raised his eyebrows at him. He took a closer look and felt perturbed by the appearance of the messenger. He put on a tender look, his eyes caressing his face. The messenger trained in the best of media clichés under a number of jaded but experienced poets on the most respected media panel sponsored by the funds of the king himself, now began to fumble in the most impeccable manner. He uttered each of the words as if he was intoning an official mantra. The minister had already read the look of admiration on the face of the king and spoke to the messenger politely asking him to spill the beans. He said that as long as he was closeted with the king, anything no matter how worse could be addressed in the most off- hand manner. The messenger nodded and then out he came with the story that left the minister and the king stupefied. According to the news brought in by the messenger, the general had fled to the jungle.  He said with an adequate pause, letting the words settle on the king. In order to do justice to his report, the messenger added that the only weapon the general had picked up was a catapult that the king had gifted him on his birthday. A heavy and invisible curtain of silence descended, enveloping all the three of them who looked like some glassy characters of a fairy tale.

After what seemed to be an age, the king stood up and said in a sever tone that he would like to follow in the footsteps of the general with the minister in tow. The minister croaked in unison with pain in his groins that he would not lag behind. The king said that there they would like to play hide and seek. Then both the two most powerful men of the state began to laugh, sending a shiver down the spine of the messenger. He could not get rid of his feeling of vulnerability.

Tags: Chinese incursion, border, Indian, miracle, the messenger, media clichés, official mantra, the media