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Extract from the book |  Alphabetica: a satire of majoritarianism


“WHY?”

It was a moonless night in Alphabetica. Sleeping silences rolled down the wall of Westerloo Mountain. Suddenly, a plaintive “Why? Destroys the peace of this land. Delivered to Bianca Castafiore’s pitch, Ypsi (Y to her friends) hoped her yeasty bark would pierce the Planet Typewriter stratosphere and several galaxies beyond. As you might expect, it didn’t have the impact you wanted. His neighbors had become deaf to his annoying temper tantrums.

With her extra-long hands constantly raised, as if to implore her benefactor, little Ypsi looked like the statuesque Clio. But lately, his piercing eyes looked horribly frantic. She seemed more hypersensitive with her frizzy hair standing on end all the time and her hands flapping above her head like the antennae of a dragonfly. Always ask “Why?” If his first “whys” suggested curiosity, his recent ones reeked of bitterness.

Since time immemorial, all acts of hatred in the land have started with an inappropriate “why”. Ypsi was no different – irrational, absurd, even childish. There was one more thing in common. Hubris. The disdainful attitude of the majority, based on outmoded assumptions and arguments but deadly enough to destroy peace and harmony. Apparently the most recent “Why?” Ypsi threatened catastrophic consequences for his alphabetic compatriots and their peaceful Planet typewriter.

Phoenicians

One day in Underwood, Ypsi, a perpetual first bench in Mrs Poet’s class, overheard the poet and his wife discussing the evolution of the English alphabet. Ypsi quickly gave it a spin and named it “The Birth of Alphabetica” and began to lecture its consonants with a superior tune.

Assuming the role of “Professor Whyness”, she asserted: “We consonants are not only the majority, but we are also the direct descendants of the twenty-two Phoenician consonants which gave birth to this land called Alphabetica. Do not confuse us with the Greek minority vowels. Ours is a proud heritage and a rich culture that was in vogue during the early Iron Age, and we have been the beacon of this land for over three thousand years.

Xi and Zayin were indifferent backbenchers who slept during Ms. Poet’s class. This made it easier for Ypsi in promoting his bizarre thesis. She wouldn’t dare try this in front of Camel, who was the more knowledgeable student. Ypsi clearly wanted to avoid revealing to his comrades that the Phoenician writing system was not the first, nor a true alphabet. It was an Abjad – made up of symbols or glyphs – borrowed from the Western Semitic alphabet. Much of the Phoenician writing has been left to interpretation as often are all traditions, rituals and manners. It took several centuries for the Romans to borrow from the Greeks and come up with a more scientific Latin alphabet system that gave birth to the English alphabet that Ypsi referred to.

After the glorification of the Consonants, the Professor demolished the Vowels. “Our Phoenician ancestors only had twenty-two consonants. Forget about being in the minority – as they are today – Vowels didn’t even exist in the beginning. They were like little dots and scribbles. All thanks to the Greeks, Vowels have surreptitiously infiltrated Alphabetica! Then, after the Romans granted them Latin citizenship, they usurped their compass and tricked them into making them read the alphabet “left to right” instead of “right to left”. The Phoenician Way. In fact, this land was supposed to be called “Phoenitica”, but the Greek vowels blackmailed the poet into changing it to Alphabetica! The Romans, what could they do? They just said ‘Veni, Vidi, Vici’ and left us in trouble with a loud ‘Arrivederci’!

Ypsi stared at his two stunned comrades and continued: “And now Vowels happily use the article ‘an’ as their royal gown.” But do you realize the harm they’ve done to us? Ypsi provoked them a little more. “Not only do we have to live at the foot of the Westerloo Wall, but our house also has the most insulting name – ‘The End’! If we were to be read the Phoenician – from right to left – the children of Earth would learn to call us “ZYX” and not “ABC”! And guess, what would have been the name of our house?

Xi decided to appear smart. “Tails! He roared. “Which means we’ll end our tailing role. “

Ypsi shouted, “My only left foot! It would be ‘The First’! And, as three Phoenician consonants of blue blood, we would decide everything first. Including the use of the article ‘an’! ”

His comrades clapped loudly without understanding his anguish, as was the norm. Unbeknownst to them, Ypsi withheld vital information that could pierce her pompous posture.

Ypsi’s behavior quickly worsened. Now she felt that Consonants were not just a majority, but a superior race. She caught a “social fly” to post an anonymous “Insectagram” on Alphabetica’s social media. She felt that the consonant majority should be informed of her superior status. She let go of her insectogram and said to herself in frustration, “What’s the use?” Some ignorant consonants have polluted their homes by sharing them with the Vowel minority! “

The annoyed Ypsi declared to his confused comrades: “Enough of this policy of appeasement for the vowel minority.” Even as a consonant, I can form words without vowels. The article ‘an’ will be mine! After a brief pause, she added, “And for each consonant.” One nation, one law!

His two comrades nodded vigorously, and Xi added, “For you, we are going to do the article ‘can’ – ‘What Y can, no one can’!”

Transformation

During this time, Ypsi became Ms. Poet’s most attentive student, surpassing Camel’s level of dedication and diligence. Her troubled mind was constantly barbecued by Ms Poet’s discussions with the poet on socio-political issues, such as the rise and fall of dynasties, wars, revolutions, slavery, bigotry, the holocaust. , and more. Then she tried to learn about democracy, dictatorship, elections, coups, the essential lessons for a leader. Nothing made much sense, but she was like a sponge soaking up all the information she could gather.

One day her assumptions about majority power were shattered when she heard of minority regimes ruling parts of the planet Africana. Ypsi was worried without sleeping. It seemed like a warning that the minority vowels would soon take over Alphabetica. Such thoughts made his frizzy hair stand on end all the time. She felt these were exclusive messages for her. After all, she was meant to be “Ypsi, the chosen one”!

Finally, one day, his prayers were answered. She discovered an enigmatic leader who promised her the “Sun of Freedom” at the end of his long, dark tunnel. It was the day that Ypsi heard of a “Great Dictator”. He seemed to be a successful leader among the Terrans. Like Ypsi, he too was proud of his Blue Blood lineage and was ruthless when it came to taking on the evil minority who had threatened to ruin his planet. He seemed to have risen democratically on his journey towards absolute dictatorship, single-handedly crushing the impure minority.

Significantly, the Grand Dictator suffered the humiliation of being denied his grandfather’s last name. He had struggled to rise from the lowest ranks as a stateless soldier to become the ruler of his ambitious homeland. Her own insecurities about her past seemed to bring her even closer to the Great Dictator. By writing her own memoirs, Ypsi became her unconditional worshiper. She concluded that she too should be democratically elected by the majority. Like the Great Dictator, she too should rise, by hook or by crook. Once elected, she could become the tyrant dictator forever! The majority would still love the dominant dictator, and the minority would live in fear.

Sadly, Ypsi’s schooling at Underwood was a classic case of dangerously selective knowledge. Significantly, his thesis was based on the rise of the Great Dictator, but not on his downfall.

. eBook 99, paperback 299, hardcover 549

Extracted with permission from Alphabetica: A satire on majoritarianism by Notion Press. Written By: Roy Phoenix. Price: eBook Rs 99, hardcover Rs 299 and hardcover Rs 549.


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