Middle-Comic Relief

Comic Relief

By Dinyar T Dastoor

(“Middle” is defined as a brief essay of a literary kind in a weekly or other journal or newspaper often placed between political articles & book reviews. It can be placed anywhere in a newspaper but is generally in the middle of the centre page.)

Every individual has his own concept of a treasure trove. With some, it’s finding wads of currency notes stuffed in a mattress; with others it’s discovering sparkling gems in an antique chest. With me, it’s always been stumbling across a ceiling-high cache of unread comic books, preferably second-hand — musty with age and ripe with that unmistakable smell that makes strong book-lovers turn weak at the knees.

Even today, every once in a while, when the TV is on the blink and one decides to browse through an old, dog-eared issue from the DC or Marvel stable, the inde­scribable mix of nostalgia and contentment that flows through is sheer bliss. In fact, the comics code (and other moral codes not­withstanding), few things, if any, can match the fun of curling up in bed withWonder Woman, Batwoman or Supergirl.

Memories race back to how it all began when, as a boy of seven, the Batliwalas (God bless them) initiated me into this zany world of incredible characters with their delightful names and antics. Families like the Jetsons, the Flintstones and the Munsters; caricatures like Baby Huey Huckleberry Hound and Wile E Coyote; superheroes like Daredevil, Captain America and Green Lantern; all formed part of the mosaic—each one en­grossing and entertaining in his own special way.

One of the biggest myths about comics is that they tend to spoil one’s English. Nothing could be further from the truth. As one who writes for a living, I’d like to strike a blow for comic-lovers everywhere by stating for the record that my very foundations of the written word were laid on these vividly illustrated and bril­liantly scripted tomes that I endlessly pursued, with a passion yet to be matched.

It was a day of national mourning for comic-lovers when some semi-literate bureaucrat, in his immense wisdom and love for the unwashed masses, decided to ban the import of several foreign series. The ones that remained are still circulat­ing in flea markets and second-hand book stores. My heart bleeds for today’s kids who are restricted to a diet of Archie or substandard local brands, and who will never know about the voracious appetite of Little Lotta, the wise-cracking repartees of Heckle & Jeckle or the fa­mous triple whammy of Wendy the Good Little Witch’s aunts.

For some not-so-strange reason, watching a cartoon or TV series is never as much fun as reading the comic book.

Text Box: Enter the Dachshunds

“I’m not ready for marriage-How about a strategic alliance”

YOU SAID IT by Laxman

By Ramesh C Shukla

Having kept, and left be­hind, pets in three succes­sive postings abroad, I de­creed that no more pets would grace the Shukla household. I found that leav­ing them behind was heart breaking and the moral guilt too great to bear. My writ ran from Delhi to Den­mark to Doha. But six months into the last named capital, it all came unstuck.

Our daughters had grown up and were living else­where. One was studying in London and the other was married and settled in Copenhagen. Feeling rather lonely, my wife started talk­ing wistfully of times when we had kept pets and won­dered If we would keep one again. I nipped all such thoughts in the bud. But one day she looked at me mean­ingfully and said, “I under­stand there is a brown miniature male dachshund at the airport veterinary dispensary waiting to be adopted.” I gazed at her steadily and then said, “No harm in inspecting him.”

I was in the office when she rang up excitedly and said, “Darling he is wonder­fully handsome and pure brown. His name is Welling­ton. Can we have him?”

“Well, when I agreed to your going to the airport I had resigned myself to this fate. How much will he cost?”

“Oh, he is for free.”

“Okay, bring him home.”

While I was still mulling over this new responsibility, my wife said, “There is one complication.”

“Well, what is that?”

“There is a female companion as well called Lady Everyone wants the male but not the female. If she is not adopted too, she will be put to sleep.”

There was a weighty si­lence from her end. I was surprised that discri-mina-tion against females extend­ed to the animal kingdom too. Anyhow, not wanting a doggie’s death, on my con­science, I said, “Okay, bring her too.”

My wife called me a sweet fellow etc and then added, “But there is ano­ther complication.”

“Now what?”

“She is pregnant!”

I nearly fell off my chair as I shouted, “What?”

She slowly repeated her words.

“How many puppies?”

“Three or four.”

I contemplated Mahatma Gandhi’s photograph right opposite on the wall, looked at the handset of the tele­phone and cursed myself for my momentary weakness in letting my wife go to the vet­erinary dispensary Finally I said, “Okay bring them all. We will deal with the prob­lems when they arrive.”

Thus began our 12-year-old love affair with dachs­hunds, which continues even now in full force.