I’ve been reading, of late, the William Monk series by Anne Perry. The author’s portrayal of Victorian England is at once vivid and brutally real. The plot is also pretty good. The setting and her narrative might influence the reader to think that she’s inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dame Agatha Christie in equal measure. The protagonist is a police officer in nineteenth century England, who lost his memory after an accident. How he manages to solve one knotty case after another is the premise of the series. If Sherlock Holmes portrayed the rich and powerful of Victorian England, William Monk portrays the commoner, the layman who isn’t given much importance by the law, or rather the lawmakers.
The first book in this series that I read is Dark Assassin, which mom had bought sometime ago. I loved the book, and got most of the other books too. I am reading the second book in the series now, and a character’s words set my mind in motion, just what one needs at the fag end of a working day. Here are the words:
About aspiring actors in a public house: “They have imagination to take them out of the commonplace, to forget the defeats of reality and feed on the triumphs of dreams. They can evoke any mood they want into their faces and make themselves believe it for an hour or two. That takes courage; it takes a rare inner strength.”
This sums up the attitude of the Indian people. We have corruption everywhere, but we do believe that our country will become a beacon of honesty as in olden days. We see poverty reign our slums, streets and villages; but we take solace in Mukesh Ambani’s billion dollar home. We don’t hesitate even a moment while bribing public officials, but we debate about the ethics of politicians who swallow monstrous amounts of money. We complain about mosquitoes and the diseases that they bring, but joyfully spit on the road and pee on the walls. We admire a rhapsodizing politician on the stage, but curse when (s)he fails to turn promises into action. Indeed, we turn a blind eye to reality and live in dreams.
If we can still surmount what is natural and believe what we wish to believe, in spite of the force of evidence, then for a while at least we are masters of our own fate, and we can paint the world we want.
This is exactly what we do, attain bliss in our Utopia, while the real world stares harshly at us. Until we wake up to the reality that is engulfing our lives, we will continue to vote for the same dirty leaders and scandals will be a way of life.