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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 44 New Delhi October 20, 2018

Akbar’s Heart of Darkness

Friday 19 October 2018

by Mustafa Khan

Those who study literature, as M.J. Akbar did, must have had a nobler mind and shunned from descent into darkness of their own heart. His case is of the rarest type. It turned out to be topsy-turvy. How could he fall so precipitously! Why did the almighty hurl him headlong into the bottomless pit of hell! The aspiring young journalists (mostly women so far) whom he abused over decades were more concerned to make journalism a means of making a decent living. How traumatised must have they been! Instead having a door of opportunity opening for them and earning bread for the family they were shocked and their calling dented and warped momentarily. Why did his education fail him there? Instead of helping them to acquire insight into the new responsibility he was more preoccupied with building his own harem!

A part of the reason is found in a life situation of a turncoat given below. In the sham of lack of integrity of thought and commitment to his metier.

The scene is Lalit Grand Palace, Srinager, third week of June 2010. M.J. Akbar and Tarun Vijay shake hands. After greeting each other they exchange pleasantries:

Akbar: Why do you throw pebbles at Muslims? Hurl boulders at us and see how your politics (of the BJP) succeeds?

Vijay: Ha, ha, ha!

Akbar: In fact the BJP should rebuild the Babri mosque. We have many amongst the Muslims, like you, who would themselves demolish it and rebuild it a la the Akal Thakht at the Golden temple!

This life-situation is stranger then the fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorn, Joseph Conrad and Herman Melville. Dr Rappachini was making experiment in poisoning in his garden lab where his daughter was within the ambit and would breathe the vapour so much that her breath became poisonous. A gentleman came as a prospective match for her. A fly flew before her eyes when lo! it fell straight on the ground and died. In another short story of Nathaniel Hawthorn, Ethan made an experiment of what the unpardonable sin is. His wife famished and died when he denied her human succour and sympathy. When he himself fell in the kiln, even the fire refused to burn his heart.

In the end of the third decade of his career Akbar aquired the attributes of these characters of literature. From the banks of the Congo the magnificent woman, in Heat of Darkness, is calling him like the naitves of Congo including the gorgeous one did to Kurtz who was so enamoured by her that he forwent civilisation and discovered the dark jungle within his heart and interjected “the horror, the horror”.

The foreign correspondent who was an intern at The Asian Age in 2007 was like Akbar’s daughter. She wrote her harrowing experience of sexual harassment. “What he did was disgusting, he violated my boundaries, betrayed my trust and that of my parents,” says Majlie de Puy Kamp’s HuffPost India in an email, adding that she met Akbar through her parents who had worked as foreign correspondents in Delhi in the 1980s. “He was my parent’s friend, he was supposed to pull through for me if I ever got in trouble while living in a foreign country.”

Why should the likes of Amit Shah and Smriti Irani wait for the gentleman. He had already replied: “These are issues which are so prone to misunderstanding, that there is no point debating them. My profoundest apologies if there was anything inappropriate.”

Akbar was a schizophrenic driven by hormons and cannot be anything less as he is still enjoying his tour of Africa thanks to the junketing at the cost of the government.

The accumulation of his sins surely justifies a place in the abysmal depth of hell which regretfully is not in the conception of the universe in the BJP cosmology. Even if the condoms continue to gather. “I would find one every day, somewhere on my desk, for eight months,” said one of his other victims.

After having seen a life of perversity of her husband PM Imran Khan, Jehan Khan stood by her metier of the journalist and exposed without fear. Don’t be surprised if such another wreck is also found to be bisexual too.

The author studied MA in English Ph.D on Mark Twain in Marathwada University. For some months he had joined the IAS but left it for a Post-Graduate diploma in Teaching. He taught for over 35 years and then retired.

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