Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark” (in eight fits, no less!) ends with these two lines:
He had softly and suddenly vanished away—
For the Snark *was* a Boojum, you see.
These are the scariest lines in all of literature, and for all humanity – all of us are condemned to vanish away. Whether softly or otherwise, whether silently or otherwise, whether we are snarks or not, whether we are boojums or not. Vanish away we will.
In the world of business, this has been well recognized for centuries. Hence, companies practice such things are succession planning, delegation, separation of powers, and other such arcane arts – the top man or woman will one day have to follow Carroll’s Law.
Even businesses started and headed by one man practice do decide at some time or other about who is going to run it once the old man departs to meet his maker. Typically, the decision is known quite some time in advance and the successor has been blooded into the business years before.
In the kingdoms of yore, kings were sometimes summarily vanished by war, pestilence, or a little homegrown murder. So they always had a crown prince or next in line ready for such eventualities.
In this context, I am somewhat mystified that our dearly beloved Prime Minister, Shri MMS, has not given thought to the virtues of softly and silently vanishing away from his not too comfortable seat, and certainly those crown of thorns adorning his blue turban.
We all loved him and respected him when he ascended to his august office. But now, perhaps our enthusiasm has diminished more than somewhat. The extinguished economist (read here – scroll down to the comment from S. Kashif A. Rizvi) is now an extinguished Prime Minister, whether he agrees or not. The Government has been in stasis for nearly two years, mired in an unprecedented deluge of corruption allegations and cases. We have the somewhat farcical situation of the Army Chief fighting with the Government about the former’s date of birth. All the key economic indicators have been or will be missed, as per the Government’s admissions.
In a public limited company, the shareholders would have summarily dismissed MD or the Chairman for lesser evils. If we think of the Government as a public limited company (I know it is not), with us citizens as shareholders, and the PM as the MD, and the President as the non-executive Chairperson, Shri MMS would have been asked to vanish away – and would have done so amidst media fanfare (no soft or silent vanishing act.)
There is still time – the PM can plead health as an excuse to get out right now. After all, he did undergo a heart operation some time ago, didn’t he?
That wise old man, William Shakespeare, probably just this in mind when he wrote my favourite WS quote (from Winter’s Tale), which forms the headline of this post. The last few lines of Antigonus’ speech goes thus:
The savage clamour might well be that of the unhappy citizens of our country who wish to see a change, any change.
There are three other people who perhaps would be well advised to do the vanishing trick.
The first one is Very Very Special. Perhaps he should recognize that his place in India’s cricket history is assured thanks to his heroic deeds in Australia and India some years ago. Surely he doesn’t wish to be remembered as the one who stuck Fevicol to his trouser seats, so much so that they had throw out the chair as well as him.
The second, dare I say it, is The Wall. The man is a super-achiever, and an all-time great. Now that Old Father Time has created a gap in the wall (remember his performance in the recent Australian Test Series?), perhaps he will consider the virtues of singing “Don’t cry for me India, the truth is I am a lot older; all through my glory days, my wonderful existence, I kept my promise, and you never kept me distant.” (My apologies to the creators of “Evita” for this unholy mangling of some lines from “Don’t cry for me Argentina.”) When he actually does go, there will not be a single dry eye in all of India.
The third and final person, and I really hesitate to say this, since I visualise a howling mob descending upon me with pre-owned cricket bats, baying for my blood. Be that as it may, I shall remain bloody but unbowed and I shall say it – it is time for SRT to go. The search for the Holy Grail of the hundredth international hundred has not only softened up his judgement, it has become a millstone round the neck of the whole Indian team.
Enough already SRT! If you that hellbent on the HIH, tell us. In this day and age of fixable cricket, we the people of India hereby solemnly resolve to fix one match of your choosing at the earliest fixable opportunity to ensure that you get your HIH, provided that immediately after your acquisition of the HIH, you will gracefully, softly and silently vanish away. Let not posterity say, after Lewis Carroll’s Father William
You are old, Father Sachin,
And your hair has become very white;
And yet you go out to take guard against men half your age —
And that without specs; is it right?
Oscar Wilde had written somewhere that “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” VVS, The Wall and SRT has so far fulfilled the first half of this sentence. Perhaps they should not wait to fulfill the rest of the prophecy.