The Ministry of Fear – Graham Greene


This thought came to me when I had just started reading today – that if reading is a skill, we might be getting better at it with practice. And when we’re younger, we often don’t know what to look for.
Just like the big data analytics which has hit big time in this “smart” century.
I know I’ve read amazing authors like Margaret Atwood, a little bit of Neruda, some Marquez, some heavy-duty history books and all, but probably didn’t know at the time “what to look for”.
It’s so subjective a thing and yet, well, there are learnings you carry for life. Like when I read Shantaram and I carried the memory of the standing babas for some reason while during my second reading much later, this Mumbai don’s version of the theory of karma is what I found overwhelmingly powerful.

With this thought, and with this realisation, reproducing an amazing exchange between “Rowe”, Graham Greene’s protagonist here with Mr. Rennit, a detective who is reluctant to accept Rowe as a prospective client, all the while suspicious and dismissive, in war-impacted Britain:

ministry of fear 1

‘Listen’, Rowe said, ‘be reasonable’. You know you can do with a client just as much as I can do with you. I can pay, pay well. Be sensible and unlock that cupboard (Rowe had unwittingly opened the door only to find the old man hurriedly tucking a bottle away into a cupboard) and let’s have a drink on it together. These raids are bad for the nerves. One has to have a little something…’
The stiffness drained slowly out of Mr. Rennit’s attitude as he looked cautiously back at Rowe. He stroked his bald head and said, ‘Perhaps you’re right. One gets rattled. I’ve never objected to stimulants as stimulants.

I read that, and I went tee hee hee…
Now, wouldn’t I want to use that someday! Especially since my spirit-filled past is fully behind me?