I would ask this question regularly in
my childhood while looking at, reading or trying to understand, that who was
He looked familiar, by his outlook,
and funny enough to keep me with him with his glasses and bushy but carved moustache.
Eyes would go to that the pocket
corner first while scanning the newspaper, after all who reads them in carefree
and free days of childhood, to find what the grandpa-next-home would have come
with to tell us next, irrespective of my level of understanding.
But even in those days of privileged 'lack of understanding', the
grandpa and his corner was fairly understandable and engaging most of the time.
And with time, with growing exposure
to the experiences of life, even this 'lack of understanding' was flattened
While deepening understanding about the
essence of the 'being of the grandpa'.
He was the ubiquitous, affable,
lovable and quintessential Common Man, brought alive and made perpetual by R K
Laxman, from the class of the legendary cartoonists of India, who passed away
today at 94.
In childhood, if he made for the triad
of 'Chacha Chaudhary, TV adaptation of Malgudi Days, creation of his elder
brother R K Narayan and the Common Man' - one of the many outlets to pack as
much content in my buzzing mind as possible - with growing adulthood and the
subsequent years in life (and even now) - he was and has been among the primary
ingredients of the daily dose of meaningful humour, satire the R K Laxman way -
sometimes direct, sometimes subtle, at times both - but always enjoyable,
always thought-provoking and always to-the-point.
R K Laxman's 'Common Man' is among the
most influential symbols of 'cartoons being a serious tool of satire'.
And his Common Man has stayed 'uniformly
and brilliantly serious enough' for decades to pull our attention, to push us
to think, to make us smile on forced absurdities,
excesses and trivialities.
The uncommon creator of the equally
uncommon 'Common Man' breathed his last today after an illustrious career
spanning decades where 'he said' and we 'listened to him'.
But the common man is so quintessential
to our existence, so imperative to our thinking and so intrinsic to our
day-to-day lives that 'The Common Man' is going to stay with us forever - the
best possible tribute to an artist - in this case, a legendary one, in league
of his own - R K Laxman - Rest in Peace Sir.
Images: R K Laxman's cartoons and
images sourced from different online resources