It is the popular opinion that all lit people are a bunch of freaks, and I could not agree more.
“The mammaries will come flooding back” is what a student said to S.M. when he asked her how she would feel if she opened a book of poetry and found some dried flowers given to her by an old flame.
Of course, she had no clue why the back-benchers burst into a guffaw and why SM’s face turned beet red.
SM has never asked this question again. He usually asks tangential questions and makes vague comparisons to arrive at some sort of a point, but he has never asked this question again.
Us lit students get bombarded with all kinds of ‘isms’ throughout our course – feminism, modernism, impressionism, post coloniolism yadda yadda yadda. But none of them can ever beat the quirky isms that are our teachers and classmates!
This post, is specially dedicated to areogapitica
(The effect is felt only if you can recall his facial expressions every time he said the following)
Adwitiya: Othello is a tragic hero because he was black.
Chandran: I am black. Do I look like a tragic hero to you?
“Adam is so daft”
(yup! Chandan knew it all)
“This book is like God! It has no beginning and no end”
(His was referring to Parvathy’s book that was in tatters)
“An autobiography is something you should not even ATTEMPT …it’s sheer ARROGANCE if you start writing about your lives.”
“If you don’t have you I-card, you can’t pay your fees, you can’t go to the library, you can’t get your idlis”
(and the way his eyes rolled when he spoke about the idlis!)
“The committee that wrote the Mahabharat must have been some BJP community. Valmeeki also may have been an acronym of some sort, with each alphabet belonging to a community member”
“Melville’s Bartleby is a pucca existentialist”
(No questioning that!)
“Translation is an exercise in humility. You realize you don’t know English, you also realize you do not know your own language.”
Chandran: Britney spears is a believer in kabbala
Nischala: Madonna sir
“Kafka’s In the Penal Colony is like ‘In the University’, is it not? …hostel life is a continuation of the medieval practices of regimentation. I mean you’re not allowed to use the bathroom for more than 10 minutes.”
“You buy something for 10 Rs., sell it for 8, its a loss, and draw graphs for a loss that is so obvious – Economics!!!”
“Anecdotage – the age when you recount dates from your youth”
“Departmental affairs must be the centre of graffiti”
“What’s the use of having her in a literature class when she takes everything so literally?”
(Nayar to Padmaja)
“Read William Jones’ The Collected Letters –actually I should not recommend that..I mean you’re not supposed to read other people’s letters”
“Santa’s little helpers were also known as subordinate clauses”
“If you don’t read Asterix, you won’t understand any literature”
MARATHE-ISMS: (to be read in a very heavy brit accent)
SM: Why do you think he wrote this line?
Me: Poetic license?
SM: Veeeeeeeeeeeeerrry naughty miss cee(n)ee bee(n)eee
(I still have no clue why he said that! But I do believe this was the origin of TVNMCB!)
“You set out to place large plates in the anticipation of a big chappati, only to get…you know..a chappati the size of a PoMo’s woman’s bindi
(I still don’t know what the context was!)
Me (with massive trepidation): Sir, may I please close the curtains.. I mean shut the…I mean draw the curtains
SM: What did you say???
Me: May I please draw the curtains
SM: No before that
Me: I said “May I please draw the curtains”
S. M. : Nooooo(n)ooo..BEFORE that!
Me: err may I please close the curtains?? (sheepish smile)
SM: When I was in Canada…
SM: Oh you’ve heard this one before? When I was in Poona….
MUJEEB – ISMS:
“Hello class. Wassup!”
“Kim is like a James Bond”
“His sansaariya has to be pavitra-fied or whatever”
(Mujeeb on R.K Narayan)
“The map of India looks like Dev Anand – with a puff of hair and a tilted head”
Too bored to recall anything apart from his obsession with the posters in the hall!
HOSHI-ISMS (our very own gay teacher 🙂 )
“Mohanty may be gay…but I have taste!”
“Main solah baras ki ho gayi..main kya karoo”
(Hoshi broke into this song and dance all of a sudden! Reason: unknown)
“Get your hands OFF him THIS INSTANT!!! HE’S MINE!!!!”
(Hoshi screamed this across the road when he saw me going doubles on the cycle with Along!)
Hoshi sees a couple in Gops and goes
Girl turns around and gives him a glare
“Not you silly… I was talking to him!”
SHRIDHAR-ISMS: (yes they exist!)
“If we suspend our judgement, Sidney’s argument makes sense”
“By itself, there is nothing ‘chairy’ about this or ‘tabley’ about that”
(Shridhar on Saussere)
“Oh thaatha…my thaatha!”
OTHER POPULAR ONE-LINERS I CAN NEVER FORGET!
“What IS it with those DISTURBING, PINK RIBBONS??”
(David McLean on Young Goodman Browne)
“Hmm..I’m not so sure about Saussere!”
(Ramanan trying to be punny)
(Mujeeb’s comments on Gudrun’s term paper)
A.K.R in every Indian English class: “What is this Indianness in this?”
Viplav’s unforgettable speech on Joseph’s Son
“Women give and give and give…..and men only take and take and take… you may understand this when you all become mommies”
(yeah right viplav..and we will contact you when that happens!!!)
“You might as well say that she (Mary Lamb) anticipates the Soviet Union when she wants to recognize needlework as paid labour!” (Smita on Lamb’s essay – On Needlework)
Me on Keats, to a much stupefied Mohanty:
“Forlorn! the very word is like a bell/ To toll me back from thee to my sole self!”
Its almost as if Keats can hear a huge bell go ding-dong…kinda rhymes with ‘forlorn’..maybe the ‘forlorn’ was meant to sound like a bell…FOR-LORN…DING-DONG…”
(What on earth made me say that???!!!)
Anna to Along: You’re name is Along?
Along: Yes ma’am
Anna: You mean like ‘Come along’, Along?
Along : yes ma’am
Anna: And where are you from?
Anna: Along from Shillong?
Along: yes ma’am
Raj: Along came a long long way from Shillong!
….Later that day, Oneil: How long is Along?
Chandran and Marathe entered the classroom to invigilate the American lit exam, only to see the following Bartleby inspired message written for them:
“We would prefer not to.”
To which SM scribbled
“So would we”
I sometimes wish I could turn back time and go through my PG course all over again. I mean it was soooooooooooo much fun!
But since that’s not possible, I guess I’ll just have to be content with the ‘mammaries’.