The phone rang and The Man from Madras Musings answered it rather reluctantly. These are days when MMM feels low and depressed. True, the Chief was ailing and old but then there was always the comfort that he was there. But then MMM digresses. Let him get on with the story.
“The Glory that was Ind,” said the fruity voice at the other end.
MMM wondered if the caller, a former bureaucrat, had been indulging rather freely at lunch. But then clarifications came forth –
“I don’t expect you would have even heard of this book, a great work of the past that told us about the glory of India,” it said.
MMM rather brusquely replied that he had read the book though he did not add that going through it was something of a penance.
The voice became impressed.
“Am I speaking to Professor MMM?” it asked, a new obsequiousness creeping into its tone.
MMM assured it that it was and added that he, MMM, was no professor.
“Are you not attached to any institution?” asked the voice, a ring of disappointment now evident.
MMM said he was not.
“A freelancer?” it asked, rather in the manner of Lady Bracknell saying, “A handbag?” in the Importance of Being Earnest.
MMM said he was.
“Oh in that case, I just called to ask about the exact nature of the illness of your boss.”
MMM was not giving him any personal details and so politely suggested that the conversation take a different turn.
“He was a glory of Ind,” said the caller. “I guess now your magazine will have to wind up.”
MMM did not reply but he knew that somewhere the Chief must have been chuckling. After all, had he, the wise man that he was, not made enough arrangements for the magazine to continue? Indeed that would be the greatest tribute that those of us who worked with him can ever pay him. And striving to be worthy of his standards will be everyone’s endeavour.
So sucks to you, you pompous caller.