Authors

Authors re-imagine how famous characters from books would have behaved during the lockdown

Literary musings (Clockwise from far left upper row) Zac O’ Yeah, Paro Anand, Devapriya Roy, Jane de Suza, Sandip Roy, Janice Pariat

Literary musings (Clockwise from far left upper row) Zac O’ Yeah, Paro Anand, Devapriya Roy, Jane de Suza, Sandip Roy, Janice Pariat   | Photo Credit: K Murali Kumar, S Subramanium, VV Krishnan, Special Arrangement, K Pichumani

How would famous literary characters have behaved during the lockdown? We asked a few authors to tell us. Here’s what they had to say...

Jeremy Brett (left) as Sherlock Holmes

Jeremy Brett (left) as Sherlock Holmes   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Sherlock Holmes in isolation

Sherlock carefully locks the door of Baker Street 221B, the world’s arguably most famous address in a classy London residential neighbourhood, lights his pipe and slumps down in his armchair in the airy sitting-room to review cold cases from the past. He worries that he’s missing out on something; but, after he evicted Watson due to social distancing issues within the confines of their apartment, there’s nobody to read out newspapers to him.

He’s paranoid about self-quarantining and 100% sure that Moriarty, the “Napoleon of Crime”, unleashed COVID-19 in order not to end just the world, but also Sherlock’s career as a consulting detective. Instead, he fiddles with his violin (which he doesn’t really know how to play) until neighbours bang on his door, but he doesn’t unbolt it.

Zac O Yeah, author of Tropical Detective

A still from Bridget Jones’ Diary

A still from Bridget Jones’ Diary   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Bridget Jones’ Lockdown Diary

April, someday. Calories 4899 when I stopped counting.

Attempted lunges shown by smug fit twat on TV. Obeyed rule to hydrate myself. Three cold coffees with gin thrown in. Gin n Tonic is the quinine thing they say will save us. Feeling better already. Must celebrate Escape from Near Death. Luckily, have one dozen Easter eggs. Chocolate and remaining bottle of gin-quinine. Changed profile pic to me lolling in bed in skimpy nightwear, Saving the World. 9 people liked it, including 8 of my uncles. And me.

Jane De Suza, author of Flyaway Boy

A still from the TV serial Mahabharat

A still from the TV serial Mahabharat   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Mahabharata interrupted

They galloped to the middle of the battlefield where Krishna stopped the chariot and turned to his beloved friend, Arjun, who sat quite crumpled with confusion, rubbing his face trying to uncrease the worry lines.

The enemy armies ranged on either side waiting, jostling to get to the front row to find out what was happening. Suddenly the Darpoke Shankh rang out. The air rippled with the dreaded words….Janta Curfew. Followed by LOCKDOWN. LOCKDOWN. LOCKDOWN. The armies crowded together in confusion. What was going on?

Of course, Krishna knew just what had to be done. He announced to the armies, “GO HOME. You cannot be crowded together at this time. Go Home. Wash your hands and feet and stay put till further notice.”

Arjun was taken aback. How were they to fight a battle if the soldiers were at home? He rubbed his face in consternation.

“Stop rubbing your face, Arjun, that’s how you can catch the virus.”

“Krishna, we’re going to look so silly if we just call off the whole thing now. People are expecting a battle to end all battles.”

And that’s how Krishna and Arjun sat down in the middle of the battleground and wrote an epic that would shake the world. Krishna also sent off his secret weapon. No, not the Sudarshan Chakra, but the HCQS tablets that saved the whole world.

Paro Anand, author of Being Gandhi

Would the lockdown help poet Amit Chatterjee finish his novel?

Would the lockdown help poet Amit Chatterjee finish his novel?   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Amit Chatterjee redux?

Poet Amit Chatterjee is one of Lata Mehra’s three suitors. He lives with his irascible brothers and sisters (and Cuddles the dog) in the Chatterjee mansion on Ballygunge Circular Road in Calcutta, trying to write his novel on the Bengal famine. And what with constant interruptions of the clan and matters of the heart, it has not been progressing well. If there were a lockdown in the novel, then perhaps Amit would finish his book! Would that increase his chances with Lata? Maybe, maybe. The nationwide lockdown would also mean that Lata would be in Brahmpur, socially distanced but psychologically closer to her other beau, my personal candidate, Kabir Durrani. Would that increase his chances with Lata? Maybe, maybe.

(And, of course, given that Amit Chatterjee is a stand-in for Seth himself in the book, my secret hope that Vikram Seth himself will use the lockdown to finish his much-awaited jump-sequel to A Suitable Boy.)

Devapriya Roy, author of Friends from Collegeg

A still from Mrs Dalloway, based on Virginia Woolf’s novel

A still from Mrs Dalloway, based on Virginia Woolf’s novel   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Mrs Dalloway house-bound

Mrs Clarissa Dalloway, unable to leave the house to buy the flowers herself. Unable to walk the streets of London, down Bond Street, through St James’ Park to Piccadilly and beyond. Peter Walsh, an old love, wouldn’t drop by for a visit. She wouldn’t pass war veteran Septimus Smith on the last day of his life. Mrs Dalloway must also cancel that evening’s party.

(Virginia Woolf had said of this novel that it was a woman's life in one day, in one day an entire life. Without Clarissa walking through London, we wouldn’t have a novel.)

Janice Pariat, author of The Nine-Chambered Heart

How will Tintin and Captain Haddock cope with being cooped up inside?

How will Tintin and Captain Haddock cope with being cooped up inside?   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Tintin in a post-corona world

What would Tintin do? Perhaps the new Tintin would explore the post-coronial world dressed in a hazmat suit in Destination Wuhan to rescue young Chang. Would Snowy need protective gear too? Thomson and Thompson could be renamed Covid and Corona. Professor Calculus might work on a vaccine and Bianca Castafiore’s booming operatic voice could automatically ensure social distancing. But there would be problems. Is any mask big enough for Rastapopulous’ proboscis monkey nose? The biggest crisis though, in an India-style lockdown, would be that at some point Captain Haddock would run out of alcohol and have to drink that chlorophyll-ous green Sani cola. Blistering corona indeed.

Sandip Roy, author of Don’t Let Him Know

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 1:09:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/authors-re-imagine-how-famous-characters-from-books-would-have-behaved-during-the-lockdown/article31364258.ece

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