The Emperor’s New Duds

Gopal's BlogOnce upon a Space-Time, in a parallel universe somewhat but not entirely dissimilar to the one inhabited by certain politicians you know, there lived an Emperor who rose to great power and enjoyed the respect of his subjects due only in part to the fact that he spent all their hard-earned tax money on flamboyant clothes. They were willing to embrace his obsession with fashion because despite all his shortcomings he had the redeeming quality of being, for want of a better word, stupid. So it is understandable that he did not wish to squander valuable resources such as electricity and brainpower on niglly little distractions such as the budget deficit, inflation, GDP, investor confidence, and visits to the library. To be sure, the Emperor was more of a movies man himself, but above all he delighted in the simple pleasure of his vivacious attire.

Every day travelers from distant lands arrived at the Emperor’s court, although what exactly was the nature of this court, and why exactly he had one, is unclear. Perhaps he harbored a secret ambition to be a judge, or a defense attorney, or perhaps it was an essential Imperial security measure, such as a nuclear-safe underground golf court.

One bright spring morning two members of an organised crime syndicate known as the Forty Thieves Consortium for Organised Badassery (FTCOB) arrived at the court, claiming to be fashion designers. They let it be known through the Facebook and Twitter grapevines that they contained boundless expertise in haute couture crammed chock-full of functionality and aesthetic appeal. “So magnificent are our creations,” they told the gullible grapevine, “that only a true Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking would appreciate the full splendor of their colors and textures. A complete ignoramus would be quite oblivious to these sterling qualities.”

Through a complex series of likes, pokes, shares, comments, and invites to join worthy causes, the news traveled from the Facebook Grapevine to the ears of the Emperor, whereupon it entered his brain, causing numerous synapses in his auditory, visual, and olfactory cortices to fire in a manner that can only be described as “totally berserk”. “These fashion designers must be geniuses,” exclaimed the Emperor to his Grand Vizier, “for not only do they know words such as oblivious and ignoramus, they also know words such as Albert and Hawking. What are those and where can I get some?”

Adopting a haughty demeanor, which he felt accentuated his sheer unadulterated genius, The Grand Vizier replied that Einstein and Hawking are fictional characters from stories like The General Theory of Relativity and A Brief History of Time which his mother read him when he was merely a little grand vizier.

“I want those garments, and I want them now!” screamed the Emperor in an unparalleled display of non-sequiturism, and ordered his Grand Vizier to transfer ample sums of hard-earned tax money to the PayPal account of the FTCOB. “And instruct those two wonDerful faShion-deSigner gentLemen that We are very Happy that they haVe Graced our shores with Their esteemed presences, and in the inTerest Of elimiNating time Wastage they Can hold the funcTionality if Such a measure would Lead them inExorably to step Up the quanTity of aesthetic Appeal.

The Grand Vizier had learnt through hard-earned experience that it was quite career limiting to trouble the Emperor with sensible questions when his synapses were firing in a manner that can only be described as “totally berserk”. So, after congratulating him heartily on his wonderfully creative consonant capitalization technique, the Grand Vizier wafted out of the Throne Room to carry out his assigned duties, his head held high, determined as some kind of very determined person to display a can-do attitude in the face of adversity and confusion. But when he was alone in his chamber, an astute reader would have detected a slight furrowing of his brow, as he pondered whether the Emperor had imbued the phrase “Grace our shores” with the politics of metaphor, or the metaphoricity of politics. Theirs, after all, was a land-locked country.

So the two con-men set up shop in the Imperial Palace and invited their friends at the FTCOB to submit large tenders for for luxurious fabrics, expensive fashion-orientated machinery, and miscellaneous services of an unspecified but costly nature. They then withdrew into their workshop in order to dedicate themselves to the serious task of wealth creation – namely their own.

“I should like to know how the weavers are getting on with my cloth,” said the Emperor to himself, after some little time had elapsed; he was, however, rather embarrassed, when he remembered that a simpleton, or one unfit for his office, would be unable to see the manufacture. To be sure, he thought he had nothing to risk in his own person; but yet, he would prefer sending somebody else, to bring him intelligence about the weavers, and their work, before he troubled himself in the affair. All the people throughout the city had heard of the wonderful property the cloth was to possess; and all were anxious to learn how wise, or how ignorant, their neighbors might prove to be.

“I aM dyiNg To know how the fashion Designers are Progressing with my new wardRobe,” demanded the Emperor a few weeks later. “The state Of the nation Address is coming Up in less Than three Weeks time, and I am getting a bit tired of accentuating my syllables in a creative manner.”

“Of course, of course,” agreed the Grand Vizier, as his role of Imperial Speech Writer sighed a sigh of profound relief and gratitude. “Your loyal subjects will love you with or without the accentuation.”

“You are too kind, Grand Vizier,” said the Emperor. “But I will make up for it by providing a Royal Feast for their eyes. I cannot bear to wear those old gold and diamond studded fine-silk gowns which the Imperial Tailors will create for me next week. I am already tired of them. I wish to wear the garments produced by those incredibly talented fashion designer fellows.”

To be continued …

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