Monday, July 05, 2010

Make it sooner!

Those of you who have visited ‘The Cove’, a blog maintained by someone who calls himself Shylock must agree with me when I say that the blogger is intriguing to say the least and magnetic pull of the blog is hard to resist. You get to know nothing about Shylock either from his profile or his posts. His profile reveals little, not even his nationality or the present location. Why would anyone want to pick the most ruthless, greedy and selfish creations of the great bard for a blog name? One wonders whether he is fighting for dignity, respect long denied to him. One wonders whether his dazzling, brilliant blog is an act of redemption meant to undo the stereotyped image of the hated character in the minds of readers. If that is the case then he must be a follower of Jewish persuasion or must at least be a sympathiser of the faithful.
The Cove is a treasure-trove of Shylock’s write-ups on books and gadgets. What an odd combination! An Engineer and a Man of Letters. His posts are not the typical reviews and essays that you get to read in weekend literary review pullouts of your newspaper. Yes, he has many times mercilessly ripped apart contrived and pompous works of fiction. But like an admonishing elder having become wise with experience, he has also showed what is wrong and how it could be righted in his opinion. And his standards are mighty high. You can take my word for it. His subjective observations based on objective principles are placed before you so logically that you cannot even accuse him of biased point of view. The blog has his posts on poems, plays, classics as well as modern fiction. All English. There is not even a single hint that Shylock knows any other language, be it Hebrew or French or German. But he reads American, European, Turkish (Mr.Pamuk), even Indian authors (Ms. Roy, Mr. Raja Rao). His posts on gadgets make you wonder whether he is one of the many contributors to ‘howstuffworks.com’. Shylock posts average around 20-22 a month. The sitemeter that he has prominently displayed show a mind boggling figure of over a one lakh visitors. But Comments to most of the posts is nil. Few comments that you can read are basically words of gratitude for writing so delightfully and sharing his genius with world at large. Very few have even disputed with his way of looking. And with those, who have dared to tell him that they differ, Shylock has politely agreed to disagree.
The most commented post of Shylock’s blog was posted nearly one year ago. It was a one line post. It just said ‘Will be back soon!’ Followed by the ubiquitous, all-knowing smiley. The first comments to this post came 30 days after the date of posting. Someone, who liked to remain anonymous, had merely said ‘we differ on the meaning of soon!’ and ‘oh! You are not back yet’ and ‘Please make it sooner!’ etc. The cheerful smiley greeted the visitors and still welcomed them promising them of the owner’s return in the near future. Later the readers speculated and joked about the long absence. They asked whether its the war in Afghanistan, or his own labour of love for Booker race or Courts that was delaying the return. They told him how much they were missing him and his takes on latest books and his whimsical writings. Curious comments turned in to voices of concern, anxiety, disappointment, anger. The teasing smiley infuriated them. It was testing their patience. Few of them shouted as best as they could with only keyboard at their disposal at the unresponding but the undisputed owner of The Cove. They accused him of being cruel and insensitive.
‘Will be back soon!’ post will soon observe anniversary. What if Shylock never comes back? What will happen to the blog? It isn’t as though The Cove is Shylock’s abode and in his absence it will grow weeds attracting the attention of the passersby. Even if Shylock is dead, nobody will know. No one will be repulsed by the putrefying smell from the decaying body because Shylock has no body and hence cannot decompose and send ripples of foul odour. He is only a mind in this world. If he is dead, his death will not be acknowledged. And his creation will neither die and nor live nor wither away. What kind of permanence is this? Did Shylock think about all these when he put that all-knowing smiley in his post? Or is it possible that he is getting sadistic pleasure by causing shock and pain to his devoted readers? Is he watching every move of the visitors like Big Brother because isn’t he the big brother of his world?

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