12/06/2014 by Siddiqui Fayesal
This is the last part of the series.
I don’t really know. I know this series has lost its steam. For one thing, I wasn’t seeing the last part seriously; at least some of my friends say so. I mean the entire brouhaha (in my head) about Alfred-Wayne now smacks of father-son much more than the brotherhood-friendship I was keen on writing about.
The thing is, in hindsight, I agree with them. Alfred is much more like a father figure to Bruce and, much less a friend. So this heady conversation between my brain and my gut feeling was taking a toll on me. Some say that I should write another post.
For what it’s worth I had said yes to it. But, at this point of time, I can’t write about them. It just doesn’t feel right. They were right all along. Sigh!
So, what I will write about is this. The other true bond that I should’ve, technically speaking, thought of much before I thought of Wayne and Alfred.
Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.
Now, anyone of you can ask me the Captain Obvious Question. Why in the name of Heck did I NOT think of them and thought of Alfred and Wayne? The answer is, contrary to what you might be thinking, very simple.
I don’t know.
So i’ll get on with it as I think i’ve given enough of a disclaimer-ish introduction. I remember the very first time I picked up the book where Watson meets his roommate to be in a lag beating a dead animal, conducting some sort of an experiment. That was the start to a beautiful relationship that would see a lot of ups and downs in the time to come. Holmes was a workaholic, at times he was stoned, whereas Watson was a straight-as-an-arrow guy. A war veteran and a medical degree under his name he unknowingly sets himself up for a life that would be just as interesting as the life he supposedly left behind.
Plays have been written, movies and television series have been made about Holmes and his adventures with Watson, at least in the recent ones, being a regular accomplice to Homes’ antics. So, what would a regular reader and a regular movie goer, without any academic interest whatsoever, say when he would be told that there were times when Watson was altogether ignored in TV shoes and movies of old.
I was shocked when I read it somewhere (a friend reminded me the same recently) that Watson was at times excluded from the script. Do I mean that there was no Watson in a series claiming to be based on Holmes? Hell, yeah. What was worse is that apart from excluding him, at times, he was portrayed a bumbling idiot.
Coming back to the theme of friendship and relationships, Watson and Holmes have the strongest and one of the longest running friendship of all times. “A Study in Scarlet” was first published in 1887-88 and that makes it around 125 years old as of today. The previous two entries in the “Loving Men” series are not even close to this phenomenal friendship.
Reams have been written about the equation shared by these two. Some call it the perfect “friendship” that can exist between two men, while some call it a “utility based” friendship. While this is an accepted form to many it doesn’t fit the mould that I had thought of initially. While one can say that Holmes was the cracker of a detective with a 3 digit IQ (although a little lighter on the EQ), the comparison to Watson is usually not fair. The fact that Watson was not as brilliant as his roomie is a rather cold way of putting it forth. It’s not that Watson was not bright; it’s just that Holmes brilliance was so scintillating that it left many blinded.
Watson, while not a brainy dish, was something that Holmes was not. If not for Watson, Holmes would’ve probably died in a ditch in his later years. Holmes was not the one who would exclaim his profession out on the streets, nor would he be able to solicit clients if Dr. Watson hadn’t had the resolution to set it down on paper. It was Watson’s outrage at the audacious way Scotland Yard takes full credit of Holmes’ solution that makes him his biographer.
“Your merits should be publicly recognised. You should publish an account of the case. If you won’t, I will for you.” Holmes suavely responds: “You may do what you like, Doctor.”
And thus began the story telling of Dr. Watson for the benefit of the human race.
Watson-Holmes does not strictly fall into the “slope of friendship” that I have written about. Of course, if I tweak their relationship a little, take it with a pinch of salt and smear it over the landscape of their literary lives to exaggerate some points while blow over the others, I can manage to push them into the cocoon that I wove for the other two in my series of Loving Men. But it doesn’t seem right to me.
No matter how much I try to judge them and find a distinct slope to their friendship, I can’t. There is no Master-Servant equation here. Yes, one is bright, the other not much so, but I can’t seem to put them in the mould. Holmes cannot, in anyway whatsoever, be said to have an elevated position nor Watson having a slavish approach to him. Yes, Watson has undisguised and undiluted respect and awe for Holmes but in a more friendly manner than in a manner which suggests that he himself is at a lower pedestal than Holmes.
The other two that I have written about had a distinct relationship that did translate into the Master-Servant mould. Frodo-Samwise and Jeeves-Wooster, both sets, had the blemish of the slope. Watson-Holmes does not. I can try harder and trim the edges away that signify equality and show Watson as the lesser being as compared to Holmes, but that wouldn’t be fair on my part. It wouldn’t be effortless like the other two.
At the risk of making my “Loving Men” series a failure, because frankly I had initially planned to write about Alfred-Wayne which would fit into the Master-Servant mould perfectly (Duh!), I will still maintain that Holmes-Watson is as straight as I can think of.
But, to put things in perspective, at least I can say that one was a smart ass while the other was not!