The celebration of the common man has been, and will always be, an uncommon tale. Fortunately, one person amongst us men has captured this ethos very well over the years. Through his satirical cartoons, legendary artist R.K. Laxman has glorified the bewildering life around a regular working class man, a mere mortal in the vast land that is India. For about five decades, Indians have looked forward to his cartoon strip ‘You Said It‘ in the newspaper every morning only to find a sardonic portrayal of the current affairs, mostly related to the political domain, that can be easily identified with.
Wouldn’t a collection of such portrayals be a prized possession for anyone? Most definitely. However, you tend to value it more when you receive it, quite unexpectedly, as a birthday present!
Yesterday when I opened my mailbox I found a copy the book ‘Laxman Rekhas’ with my name on top. It was a present sent to me by my cellular phone service provider, Idea Cellular. What a wonderful gesture! Now I recognize the fact that I wasn’t and won’t be the only person to receive this as a birthday gift, and it might even be a campaign by The Times of India and the cellular service provider to publicize the book as well as themselves, but who cares! I am loving it 🙂
Needless to say, the book has some delectably hilarious sketches. On the last page is another sketch, this time that of a crow with a few words next to it, words which I think capture the character of the legendary cartoonist.
R.K Laxman’s fascination with the crow is well known. He has no patience with “stupid birds like the parrot”, but the crow, with its intelligence and quicksilver movement, has always captivated him. In his autobiography The Tunnel of Time, he wrote: “As I grew up I realized that crows had a temperament close to that of humans – clever, cunning and cautious!” Because the crow is so ubiquitous, found as it is on tree branches, near the garden tap, on the window sill, on top of statues and TV antennas, we tend, says the cartoonist, to take the bird for granted “like a full stop in a sentence”. One of the best compliments paid to him was when a child mistaking one of his framed core sketches for the real thing, flung a stone at it and cracked the glass.