The Brown Sahib has Brexited


The Brown Sahib has Brexited

Illustration: Saachi Mehta/ Arré

o join me along with the rest of the world, as we ring the death knell of what is left of the British Empire. Now that the pound has gone to the dogs, the creditworthiness of the nation is in shreds, and John Oliver has made them the laughing stock of the internet, Britain seems also to have lost its famed humour. Even the irony of declaring its independence, while having a history of robbing others of theirs through old-fashioned despotism over the last couple of centuries, hasn’t really set in. Add to that growth rates and a shit football team. It’s time to conclude that the sun, in a country that’s wetter than a <insert indecent metaphor here>, has set.

It’s easy to be facetious. Indeed, it must reinvigorate an entire sub-genre of comedy. A Monty Python sketch, maybe? It’s only fitting that the movement to leave the Union was lead by Boris Johnson, a man who said, “My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.” And now, he is a favourite of the bookies to succeed David Cameron as the prime minister of the UK. (Meanwhile, Ireland, known for its love of Swedish females and Scotland, for Scotch whisky that ages Indian uncles by another 18 years, may secede from Britain. The stiff upper lip has yet to soften, but the cracks are already showing.)

In these desperate times, one can’t help but look back at the glory days of the Empire: scheming Pommies discovering another stretch of land to loot and plunder, none more profitable than India. Arriving in the early 1600s, as a group of merchants, incorporated as the East India Company, the British undertook what some might call the costliest language education and railroad project in history. On the East India Company website, their 200-year rule is summed up in two sentences: “They were explorers, traders, innovators. They took risks, they broke new ground and they sometimes got it wrong.”