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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The well laid plans of men and mice can go awry but when it comes to me ,I get the share of the mice also as far as my plans going awry are concerned . I sought some desperately needed support from my friends in a Facebook post, “Women Don’t Understand Manpower. Here is the link to an edited version of the post.
My friends, all keen book lovers, were however indifferent or too timid to stand up for me but in our WhatsApp group our women friends sprang up spiritedly in the defence of my wife. Now my wife feels entitled to restore order to my hallmark chaos created by books and papers with consequences which are fraught, to say the least. Things came to a head after my missing book , Wittgenstein’s Poker, a riveting account of confrontation between Karl Popper and Wittgenstein in Cambridge, was discovered in
the refrigerator and my wife refused to accept responsibility for its unusual storage.
“Yes, it is I who go looking for cheese and chips, in the middle of night, a book in hand.”
Offence is the best form of defence, so I unashamedly peddled my lebensraum theory in respect of books . That is when she launched one of the most brutal attacks on me in recent
history. With an exaggerated courtesy she said, “So Herr Hitler, would you like your Wittgenstein served for breakfast with white sauce or black pepper? Would you have Lakatos for lunch and Dawkins for dinner or in the reverse order? The eggs,
poultry, milk, vegetable etc would be nicely sitting in your many book shelves. “ My wife is a minimalist and her easy shorthand, encodes all manner of attitudes and assumptions.
It was time to be tactful, some emotional blackmail could perhaps retrieve the situation.
“My memory was becoming that bit less reliable, I was going to be seventy one ,” I told her." My days, and even some nights, are spent chasing elusive memories, a forgotten name, a scrap of a poem, a dialogue from a play speaking to me in jumbled tones."
She immediately brought the issue of books strewn all over, anything that could support a book was supporting it, some were dangerously levitating , that I seemed to have
forgotten about.I must admit if the pages of partially read books, say two or three pages per book , were added, it would certainly make a decent two hundred page tome. Not a very impressive figure but it does make a pile. But I assured her that I was going to get back to them in good time, they were on my to-do-list.
That is when I was overtaken by my foot-in-the mouth syndrome. I adduced wisdom gleaned from Facebook .
“ You collect books to be read at the right time, the right place, and the right mood. Think not of the book you’ve bought as yet ‘to be read pile’. Instead, think of your book case as wine cellar.”
“That is one booze of an idea,” said my wife .
“ It is decided, your books go to the wine cellar. Since we don’t have a wine cellar the garage will do fine. No booze and so no books too”.
Oh, I forgot to tell you. My state introduced complete prohibition in 2016. Bihari civil servants, as a former civil servant I have voluntarily joined my unfortunate serving brothers, cannot drink anywhere on the planet.
I am a law abiding citizen and a meat eater too but if prohibited I will make do with vegetables. I love my occasional single malt but restrained by prohibition I seek solace in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, reading them aloud to myself to recreate the pleasures of the fabled elixir. Books (of verse) are a necessary accompaniment to the fabled elixir but the elixir has already
fallen to reformist zeal so it is only proper that books got stocked in the empty cellar. No booze and no books to go with it is like the elusive unified theory. Every issue is settled. My wife’s concerns are addressed, my anxieties on score of unread books are stilled.
And “thou” beside me watching your videos on I Pad and I making do with scrutinising property statements of civil servants and affidavits of politicians