[I had posted The Vanishing Act in Snippets last January. I discovered later that the links in the post didn't work. After discussing with the IL Team I understood why they didn't and ever since I have been planning to edit it here and there and bring the links back to life. I didn't find the time to go through the task. Besides, I wasn't too sure if anybody would want to look at it a second time, even with the live links. Recently though, much to my delight, one or two ILites have shown interest in some of my old posts. So, I feel encouraged to redo the Vanishing exercise, this time linking things correctly.] View attachment 130019 Come to think of it, you can never be too sure of what P.C. Sorcar and his tribe are up to. I have Sorcar the sorcerer in mind of course and what I don't like about people like him is their disturbing habit of making things disappear at the drop of a hat. His renown leaves me unimpressed. Given this nasty habit of forcing things like teapots to vanish just as you are about to pour out your morning cuppa, or worse, making you vanish instead with the teapot pouring out tea in profusion, suspended in mid air. Like Carroll's smile without the cat. You will agree I am sure that a disappearing you is a more serious matter than a disappearing teapot. Between the teapot and the cat though, there may well be room for argument as to which one should be the first to evaporate. I have a neighbour who accumulates cats with abandon. Their concerted calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, 100 years a century have raised doubts in my mind about the social utility of cats vis-à-vis teapots, whether hanging in empty space or otherwise. But these magic-wallahs don't necessarily appreciate my viewpoint and often treat me's, cats and teapots with the same degree of contempt. They make us all cease to be! In fact something similar actually happened, or so I strongly believed for many years, to an innocent member of the audience who had spent a substantial sum of money to watch P.C. Sorcar Senior from the front rows of New Empire Theatre. Some fifty years ago I think. As ill luck would have it, the crafty Sorcar caught sight of the silly chap with his half eaten pack of potato chips just as the famous vanishing car trick was about to be enacted. The magician invited him to come on to the stage and sit inside the car, an invitation that the fool readily accepted. For he had not counted on the fact that at a mere wave of the magic wand thereafter, the car would disappear from the middle of the brightly lit stage. Not, alas, without its solitary passenger, holding on to a pathetic half empty pack of chips. I had been taken to watch the show as a small child and the event scared me out of my wits. I kept searching, without success, for the car in the stage and its unfortunate occupant amongst the audience, till the very end. But neither showed up. I mean ever afterwards, as far as I could make out. To tell you frankly, I didn't sleep comfortably for many a night since that momentous evening. I was not as bothered about the missing car as I was about the hominid sheltered inside and nagged my parents about his fate. "Shouldn't the police be informed?" I kept asking. It appeared as though one were according social approval to the gruesome activities of what in today's jargon would be called a "terminator". But I was merely greeted by all knowing smiles, smiles that seemed to hide behind them deep, dark truths. Their insensitivity upset me to no end. Time though is a great healer. Besides you learn to accept social inequities with age. Not a trace of my agony therefore was left in my mind by the time I was five and thirty odd years old. I had learnt by then not to question the Sorcar family's heaven ordained right to make people melt away without rhyme or reason and not even have to explain the whereabouts of their unfortunate victims. And by this time, I had a little son, desperately View attachment 130016 in need of being educated about the Sorcars' privileges. So, I took him along to watch a Sorcar show, this time by Sorcar Junior. Little had changed in the intervening years I noticed. More or less the same repertoire, served though in a new bottle. That is, the young Sorcar's style of presentation was different. He hoola-hooped as he performed, a pleasure his senior had to deny himself, given the conservative audiences he needed to please during his days. Perhaps also in deference to his not too inconsequential waistline. One of the things that I noticed was that the fellow had endowed his art with a circus atmosphere. Disappearances occurred as a consequence amongst great merriment! And of the many animate as well as inanimate objects that disappeared under his supervision, there was an elephant, if I remember correctly. I can't vouch if he managed to seat an enthusiastic climber from the audience on its crest as well. But disappear the elephant did. And, like father like son, it vanished forever as it were from the face of the earth. I didn't wish to scare off my little son, so I did not draw his attention to the dubious implications of the goings on, but I definitely kept a watch all through. During curtain call, I spotted all the performers grinning back at the audience as it clapped away in wild hysteria, but not a trace of a pachyderm in the neighbourhood! I am quite sure that I did not see it, for you will agree that elephants are difficult to hide if they decide to keep an appointment. An FIR with the police could well have been in order. Of course, the police would not be too enthusiastic to take up the case, there being, to the best of my knowledge, no missing elephants department in Lalbazar. Wonder if animal lovers have any observations to make on this. As I kept ageing further though, I developed a somewhat philosophical perception of the problem. The disappearing act, I told myself, was a contradiction in terms after all. A great misnomer if you like. For, by claiming that you could make things vanish, you seem to suggest that it is natural for them not to. When the truth remains that it is just the other way round. Sorcar the sorcerers it would appear have merely been belabouring the obvious. No wonder the Nobel Committee has so far taken little notice of their marvels. It is disappearance and not appearance that defines the rule of the game! My realization was not exactly painless though. To prove my theorem I had to gather data on the subject matter. And I did so by going back to the day I had watched View attachment 130020 Sorcar's performance. I had believed all through that I had managed to survive magicians' antiques. I mean not just the Sorcars, but all men-vanishers that had ever stalked this earth. But surprise awaited me. As my data set expanded, I discovered more of me, not too long after the Sorcar show! It was a shock. The me that I thought I was, was no longer the me that stared back at me. To confirm my suspicion further though, I trembled along. My heart sank further when I saw that this was the me that I had eventually turned into! View attachment 130017 When sorrows come though, they come in battalions. So, by the time I landed this bloated toad, I was reduced to a state of lugubrious resignation. View attachment 130018 I had vanished indeed and I continue to vanish all by myself. Without, that is, being aided and abetted by the Sorcars, either father or son, or for that matter any other conjurer. What's more tragic, Sorcar Senior has disappeared too along with his automobile. Leaving Sorcar Junior in charge who, as per latest available statistics, has been delivering with commendable vigour. As he himself continues to disappear with each passing day. Likewise, dear folks, let's all gear ourselves up for our respective disappearing acts. And disappear without unnecessary whimpering. At the same time, it might be worth our while to keep hoping that Mankind itself refuses to join the bandwagon and roars on forever.