The mail from Lucknow was terse. "Ibne Hasan Advocate is no more."
He was "Ibne Hasan bhai" to me ever since he cast me as the young Daagh Dehlvi in 1954 in "Dehli Ki Aakhri Shama" (Flicker of the Last Lamp in Delhi), a Tamseeli Mushaira enactment of the last poetic gathering in the Red Fort in 1857. Ghalib, Zauq, Momin, Daagh and other great contemporaries participated in this historic soiree.
The show was staged at the University Union Hall where Ibne, as master of ceremonies, announced a hundred awards for the young Daagh.
A woman was sacked for having short hair and wearing trousers to work. "They said I was gay," she complained to an unsympathetic labour tribunal in the city of Guiyang, southwest China.
How could her employers get it so wrong? A pixie cut and skinny pants are what all the babes wear these days. Only guys have long hair, handbags and dresses.
The growing gulf between modern and ancient attitudes became evident a few days ago when I sat through a discussion on gender politics.
It's 2055. Phones are painted ono our palms. Being transgender is compulsory, except for Popes, who have to be female. All countries have combined into one big nation, North Zuckerberg.
No, wait. May be life won't be that weird in 2055. It will be that strange much sooner, like may be in the next week or so.
The day I realized exactly how bizarre life was becoming started normally enough, when a reader sent me a heartwarming news report about a dog that accidentally won a race.
"I'm the happiest person in the world right now."
"What's the reason?"
"After all these years, I could finally save enough to buy my own house. I was worried my grandchildren wouldn't have a place to call their own, but now I can be at peace and know that they will always have a home to go back to."
"I was born with 4% vision in left eye and no vision in the right. My parents along with the National Association for the Blind took the decision of sending me to regular school instead of a special school to give me as normal a life as possible...but it wasn't easy. I went through hundreds of rejections before the Principal of my school in Thane stood with me and said he will make sure I succeed.