Once upon a time, in the land of knowledge lived the pen O-pen Mind who stayed with his elder brother pencil and younger brother stylus. They were a close-knit family, the perspectives, and each had a wife. Pen’s wife was paper, pencil’s life-mate was parchment, and the love of stylus’s life was tablet. Their children, book, manuscript and Epub, were big hits in town. They enthralled the other children with their stories and transported them to magical lands with their poems.
But trouble was always brewing in the land of knowledge, as trouble-makers from the land of Know-less often came along to bully the perspectives.
Oh boy, were they trouble!
Big brother state and his two sidekicks, police and Bue-Ro-Crazy, always stirred up trouble. Forever, there was something up with them. Either you would find them giving lectures on what was right and wrong, or you would find them heckling one of the perspectives.
They worked in a funny way. Big brother state would walk up and down the kingdom stirring up trouble, while police and Bue-Ro-Crazy would walk side by side ensuring that nobody had the chance to ask any questions or even show their sadness. This was the state’s favourite game, and it was called national interest.
But then, the people were confused. National interest was not a fun game. The rules of the game said the state could only play if someone was going wrong or hurting someone else, but here the state played all the time. In fact, the state wouldn’t leave. Sometimes he would just stay there and catch people till he had so many that the police couldn’t handle them all.
One day, when the state was playing national interest with his brothers, along came the youngest of the perspectives. Epub, book, and manuscript. They were shocked! While playing the game state had managed to catch almost all the people in the playground they called nation.
So, little Epub asked the state: “State oh state, maybe you should hesitate before you take a decision so great!”
Book followed up by saying: “The people are crying, while you are sighing, perhaps this is a great mistake.”
Manuscript concluded: “If everyone’s your prisoner, and not one is a sinner, then who are you protecting, for goodness sake?”
State was taken aback. This hadn’t happened ever before. Normally he would command and people would follow, but today something had gone wrong. Those rascally perspectives had got some crazy ideas into their heads.
With a roar he yelled: “You are banned from this playground!”
“But why?” they exclaimed. “We haven’t done anything wrong!”
“Oh, but you have!” shouted police. “Poisoning thoughts and being a perspective is now a crime!”
“Big brother state is now king” cried Bue-Ro-Crazy. “Now his word is law!”
Book and manuscript got sad, and little Epub couldn’t understand. All of a sudden Epub burst into tears and in no time book and manuscript followed suit. The people looked on with worry, for there was nothing they could do.
But then something magical happened. Poems started falling out of Epub’s screen and sentences and stories from book and manuscript. And they fell and fell and fell till the whole playground was ankle-deep in something called literature.
The people kept watching this magic unfold, until one of the onlookers tried to scoop up some of the literature. But when he touched it, a strange feeling came over him. Something started building up inside him.
It felt very funny, it was a mix of questions and resentment, and by the end it had built up so much he took a glob of literature and hurled it at police. Some of it splattered on to state and Bue-Ro-Crazy as well, and boy oh boy, were they taken aback!
They hadn’t faced anything like this since the renaissance! So they did the only thing they could do. With peninist chants, they pulled out their bats of oppression and started swinging!
But all the commotion had not entirely gone unnoticed, and along came the entire perspective family! They had had enough! Pencil started writing and pen shot out ink while stylus brought all the little ones together.
The battle was long and hard. The bats of oppression were initially winning, but slowly the bystanders got involved. They scooped up the literature and hurled it at the oppressive trio. The tide of the battle slowly turned as the state’s, Bue-Ro-Crazy’s and police’s clothes started getting heavy with all the literature they had absorbed. Finally they collapsed in a heap and admitted defeat. The literature was too heavy and the stories rang so true that it hurt their ears. They had had enough and were about to faint.
Yet, the children, Epub, book and manuscript, didn’t stop crying, and as people went to console them they found that the literature that filled the playground was no longer sad or resentful but much clearer. And it smelt like forgiveness.
With this new forgiving literature they bathed the state, police and Bue-Ro-Crazy, till a smile broke out on their faces and they promised never to be such bad sports ever again. They threw away their bats of oppression and shed their uniforms of supremacy, promising never to use them again.
Finally, all was at peace in the land of knowledge, and the perspectives lived happily ever after. And the allegory here was unmistakable indeed.
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First published in The Hindu