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The Vanishing Act

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by ojaantrik, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    [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.]


    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


    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 ​


    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! ​




    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.​


    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.​
     
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  2. knot2share

    knot2share Gold IL'ite

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    Thank you for reposting Vanishing Act, although I have not read this till now, but have been going through some of your other posts earlier today. You are right OJji, we all disappear bit by bit everyday without any of the P C Sorcars around casting their magic spells on us. But am still curious what actually happens to the elephant that goes missing or the car that goes missing?? Nice read and an interesting way of linking magic to life.
     
  3. Mindian

    Mindian IL Hall of Fame

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    dear oj da,

    yes i do remember reading this post...i am a great fan of P.C Sorcar and have watched his show in bangalore..:)

    And the link to the pictures makes the blog all the more interesting...makes me wish you both many more years of happiness together.

    yes, IF AND WHEN the time comes to disappear I do hope all of us do the final vanishing act gracefully without faltering and making a fool of ourselves :)
     
  4. shivachoubey

    shivachoubey IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Ojaantrik,
    Your post made me realize that the person I was 10 years back has completely disappeared, and today who I am will disappear in next 10 years. True, we all vanish surely and slowly. One more reason for me to appreciate and love myself more because this self will vanish in coming years and no matter how much I want it will never comeback again.
     
  5. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    @ k2s

    I had to compromise a bit in uploading this as a blogpost. In the original post, there were more links and they made the text flow more smoothly. When I posted it in my blog, I found that you are allowed only 5 attachments. So, some of the fun was lost.

    Well, I am not sure about the elephant and the car. Others who have watched the show claim they had been treated to a reappearance too. But this didn't happen in my case.

    Worse, and I didn't mention this in the post, after Sorcar Sr. had the two halves of the body of a girl carried out through opposite wings of the stage following his dissection trick, the girl didn't come back in one piece. People claim that when they went for the show, she would invariably come dancing back to the stage.

    No wonder I have more questions than answers in my mind's godown.

    Regards.

    oj
     
  6. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    @ mindi

    Sure enough, one wishes to depart with dignity. Some do, some don't. Unfortunately though, we do not know which way things will happen for each of us.

    In the earlier post, the link business was better handled. In the blog though, I can't put up more than 5 attachments.

    I think the blog is IL's step child!!

    oj-da
     
  7. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    @ shivachoubey

    Actually, more than loving oneself, I feel that we should make as intensive an use of the present as possible. For the present is all we have and it's fleeting. Each second is gone before you know that it had arrived!

    oj
     
  8. knot2share

    knot2share Gold IL'ite

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    OJji - I forgot to mention something earlier and was going to edit my comments but you had replied to it already. Just wished to say that it was really nice seeing you and Shankari in the photos!
     
  9. greenplanet

    greenplanet New IL'ite

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    [FONT=&quot]My dear Ojaantrik,[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]You have very artistically fused the two topics together. The only difference between these two act is that behind one is an ordinary human, who himself has to vanish one day …and behind the other is the almighty…the Master Magician …who has all the tricks up his sleeve. To quote the Gita “Death is as sure for that which is born, as birth is for that which is dead. Therefore grieve not for what is inevitable”. Very nice read.
    [/FONT]
    GP
    [FONT=&quot][/FONT]
     
  10. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    @ gp

    Very aptly quoted from the Geeta, though I have to admit that I have till this day not been able to grasp the significance of the second half of the quote. It is a philosophical statement to the best of my understanding, not as easily grasped as the first.

    This is a compromised version of an earlier post in the Snippets. I redid it because the links didn't work there. But when I tried to put it up in the blog space, I found that there were constraints on the number of attachments.

    I am not totally satisfied with the revision therefore, but it can't be helped. On the other hand, I suppose the basic point is not missing in either post.

    Thanks for reading.

    oj
     

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