Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Romila Thapar acknowledging my superiority as a Historian

  Parvati Sen was a friend of my mother. She was doing a PhD under Romila Thapar at J.N.U.
 I would ask her if she had brought me any chocolates and if she had, I'd give her my Spiderman comics to read out aloud. If she hadn't brought me any chocolates or if she showed signs of preferring to converse with my Mum about Trade Union Politics in Madras Presidency in the 1930's- which was the topic of her dissertation- I would caterwaul convulsively.
'What a horrible noise!' Parvati said, 'Does he have tummy ache?'
'No, Parvati,' my Mum replied, 'Vivek went to a Progressive School in Nairobi. He specialised in making cat like noises. Self expression is very important, you know.'

Hearing my name, I purred a little and began to clean myself. Mum quickly stuffed some pakoras into my mouth before this performance became too obscene.

'Mummy,' I suddenly said, 'I too want to do PhD just like Parvatiji. We will study together. You can pack sandwiches for us. Then we will get married.'
  'But what will be the subject of your dissertation?' Parvati asked
' You know, Cat impersonation is not taught at J.N.U.'
'Nor was it at the L.S.E,' my father spoke for me, 'But they still gave him a degree just to get rid of him. The irony is that his repeated calls to the Fire Brigade impersonating a cat stuck up Social Choice's Smullyvan truth tree could easily have been countered by Lakatos who well knew the thing was an obsolescent rhizome not an arborescent Research Program. The L.S.E's failure to appoint anyone of equal caliber after the latter's death was the reason quoted by the R.S.P.C.A in their report confirming that the L.S.E was indeed guilty of cruelty to animals by refusing to give Vivek a degree even after three years of charging us Overseas Student fees.'
'So, the R.S.P.C.A classified Vivek as an animal? That explains a lot!' Parvati said.
'The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was set up in 1824.' my father replied, 'Fifty years later, it successfully prosecuted the first cruelty to children case after coming to the realization that a child is actually a small animal.'

'So that's settled,' I said, 'Me and Parvati will now go away to J.N.U and get our PhDs and be back in time for dinner. Kindly cook avviyal and lemon rice. Meow meow meow meow meow...'

'Enough already!' Parvati suddenly cried out, 'This isn't funny any more. Actually it's never been funny. You are the most boring and stupid person I've ever met!'

'How can that be?' I asked, feigning wounded innocence, ' Surely, Romila Thapar, who has dedicated her life to making Indian History the most boring and stupid subject in the Universe, is more boring and stupid than I? Or are you saying that I am the Guru of your Guru in boringness, stupidity and general JNU jhollawallah cattiness?'

'Of course I am!' Parvati shouted, 'Romilaji's entire oeuvre is nothing but miaow, miaow, Vivek is my Guru, miaow, miaow! Happy now?'

Since Guru is not less than Father and I am the Father of Romilaji, I couldn't marry Parvati as she was now revealed to be equivalent to my own grand-daughter.
It broke her heart.

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