Let’s hope Bilkiz Alladin does not react the same way. Over two decades ago, the Hyderabadi writer published a novella on a Hyderabadi princess who fell in love and married a British resident. A plot around which William Dalrymple has spun a spectacular Indo-British historical that is receiving rave reviews worldwide. But Dalrymple, apart from acknowledging her contribution to his research, took care to win over Bilkiz during his many visits to Hyderabad while researching the book, and she readily agreed to lend him not only her idea, but even her notes.
It was the critics’ turn to come under fire. Poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra used his book launch to fire a few salvos against literary critics who are, according to him, anything but literary. The prose they use is so ghastly that he claims they "resonate when I lie down at night". One nightmarish sentence which still haunts him: "The heart of darkness beats on the pacemaker of history." What does it mean, he wailed to the merriment of his audience who have long suffered in silence a leading literary critic’s pomopoco (post-modern-post-colonial) jargon.