Role Models in Fine Writing from the Subcontinent

Read and learn, o people

 

It’s early January as I write and I’m in the mood to look for role models to inspire people to be improved versions of themselves. Notice that I don’t include myself in that number – not that I’m unimprovable, but rather that I am my own role model… but more of that later.

One chappy I’ve always thought would make a super role model is Nahusha, one of the supporting characters in the great Sanskrit classic for all the family, the Mahabharata. Nahusha is a murderous, lecherous king who envies the gods. Unwittingly, he has been emulated in recent times by such fun-lovers as Silvio Berlusconi and Cristiano Ronaldo. If he didn’t have quite so much blood on his hands, he’d have a lot going for himself. He certainly gave as good as he got and never took it lying down. Let’s overlook his incestuous nature for now and grant him an AAA- score.

Patience is a virtue and resignation is a blessing, says the Prophet. He was almost certainly referring to the character of Ishvar Darji, the hard-toiling tailor in A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry’s 1995 novel. Ever optimistic despite the grueling realities of Bombay in the 1960’s which is tantamount to Zaragoza in 2011, Ishvar leads by example and dies by the sword of his own smile. Abject misery, gruesome sickness, dire poverty, yes, and your point is…? A born loser, his prize is to have been born at all.

Determination and a hankering for the superficially infeasible are boxes ticked on the calling card of Gibreel Farishta, he of The Satanic Verses, penned by the one and only Salman Rushdie. Enslaved by his passions, which ultimately lead him to murder and suicide but what the hell, Farishta is an inspiration for those of you who still think life is worth fighting for. And just because he believes he’s the archangel Gabriel doesn’t mean he’s off his rocker.

May they be an inspiration for you all.

–          Heen xxx

 

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