Daily News Online

Wednesday, 26 May 2010



Fantasy slain

Fuzzy clouds would let up as the seconds tick down. They were bone tired, but still the enthusiasm engulfed them like never before. They were only a few minutes into dust spewing paths of an ancient civilization. It makes sense, yes perfect sense.

Rider Haggard

And finally they touched down the land of Pharaohs.

Following the customs procedure, master and disciple pressed forward to the arrival lounge. The Egyptian, who looked as old as master, hugged him tightly.

"It's quite a time since we met last, master. Things have changed a lot, you will see."

"Yes, I could sense that. And by the way this is my disciple. Son, this is Estaben Ghaly, a very old friend."

The Egyptian stretched out his hand with a warm welcome smile, but did not hug. They walked ahead silently towards Estaben's Jaguar as their luggage were conveyed separately. They all had seatbelts fastened; Estaben in driver's seat, master in front passenger seat and disciple in the rear.

"I'm sorry to have to break this to you, master, but I don't think we can tour Pharaohs. It's raining heavily and the Met Department forecasts heavy showers at least for another three days. But you are staying for 10 days here, yes?"

Estaben's guests did not believe him, until they actually witnessed rain as the Jaguar snaked out of the Airport. He carried on.

"Anyway I have my reference library. It's the third largest in Egypt. You can do some research, if you like."

Rain pattered against shutters, and thoughts splashed about in disciple's mind. He fished a book from the backpack. Little did he know the Egyptian had tabs on him through the rear-view mirror.

"Your disciple will sure make the maximum of my library. So what's that book you are reading, son?"

Now that was sudden. Too sudden.

"Oh... you mean the book I have with me now? Ah well it's a book by Rider Haggard."

"And that picture in the cover frightens you huh? Yes it does." Estaben said with a grin. Disciple nodded to the rear-view mirror.

"Well in that case, don't get scared. It's not a real Pharaoh. Haggard has written a good deal about Egypt. But honestly the man is all nonsense."

"What?" disciple could not fathom the thickness of his response - the word spat out even before he could catch his breath. But then it's not nice to be rude, especially to your host.

"I mean I didn't quite get you."

"I don't want to offend you son. He may be a good writer. But his tales of Egypt are..." he fell into thought, shifting the gear from second to third, "not that gracious. Real life and imaginative work are two different things, don't you think so?"

Of course they are..., even a kindergarten would know that, you goofy hat. Disciple was battling with his temper. It's hard, but a tad workable.

"True, Mr. Estaben. But life itself is the source of imaginative work. And that doesn't mean any Tom, Dick and Harry could weave it nicely into a creative work."

"What's the use, if the story is unreal, sonny?" Asked Estaben. "What we want is real life portraits in real circumstances."

"Well... I think fantasy should have its share now and then. I mean if you always read reality, it will be boring like hell, right? What do you think master?"

"It's like this. Now..." Master cleared his thought.

"I think Haggard took the Egypt's self to Europe. He pioneered excavating Egyptian literature and myths buried for long, we make no bones about that ok Estaben?"

"But if only you knew some stains he had put on us...." Estaben fluttered. "No use telling you, only we Egyptians feel it."

"Now, now... chub, that's enough for now! There are worst things happening right now, and who knows may be right here. So think of the here and now." Master did not sound funny - nor was what he said - but it went along for laughs. The old men laughed till their aging bodies ached. As if they have remembered something others are not privy to.

Disciple watched them, obviously bemused. Life is not only serious living, but fun too at intervals, he realized. Although it may seem trivial, very trivial, that is. He tried to get into Estaben's shoes and rethink of Haggard. But it didn't go right for him. Long-lost friends were now coughing after their deep long laugh - that much disciple could see from the rear seat.

And then everything fell into silence.

Estaben Ghaly was wrapped up in the steering-wheel of his majestic creature. Master stared ahead into the boulevard illumed with raindrops scattered all over. Disciple was happy, feeling the splash of frozen silence.




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