In my early school-years, English papers had this curious section named Composition. For one, it had little to with composing of any kind (least of all related to music). Decomposition would certainly be a more fitting name, seeing that it taught us little other than mugging up standard pieces from queer phenomena which had glib, banal information cluttered up in the name of essays. In the process burying the inherent creativity that children possess with meaningless rote-learning.
There was this fabled young chap who did not have much in the way of memory or was perhaps too lazy. For he just memorised one essay on cows. Unfortunately, the question paper demanded one on floods. Being suitably endowed with imagination, he began:
"Floods are natural disasters. The rivers swell with water after heavy rain and nearby villages are swept away. Life and property incur heavy damages. Cattle like cows and buffalo are carried away too. Cows are four-legged creatures. They have two eyes, two ears, one tail; and are worshipped by Hindus...."
An oft-repeated joke. Stale.
Sometime in early May, 2009. Kolkata. A rickety croaking affair that vaguely resembles an auto-rickshaw liberally dressed in red apparel passes in the thoroughfare bellowing an animated speaker's voice besides a lot of choking exhaust. "Friends, Indians and countrymen, lend me your ears. Tomorrow at such-and-such time, The Party has organised a blood-donation camp at such-and-such ground, and it is requested that you spare five minutes of your precious time to help our noble endeavour. Remember that some five minutes can help save thousands of lives. Donate blood for your brothers and sisters, friends. Blood has no religion, nor caste, nor sect. Blood is life."
All noble thoughts and intentions, you say! Undoubtedly so.
With a higher pitch and considerably more fervent passion than before, the voice trails:
"And remember friends, that we do not tolerate those who divide our beloved nation in the name of religion, caste and creed. We do not forgive those who deprive our brothers the light of industrialisation, those who eat away the jobs of the poor and needy. And so will you. Let us join hands in our endeavour to defeat the scourge of a party which wants disorder. The Party will stand by you throughout."
Deja vu, aye?