Every once in a while, I revisit all the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels with the same enthusiasm I had when I first picked up the books. I read each line with the same amount of drool in my mouth, and my heart beats faster each time the dramatic “elementary” reveal is around the corner. But, as time has gone by, I’ve become duller and predictable. My brain lacks the level of imagination it had when I was a kid. The result is that I find it hard to imagine the 19th century streets of London and the rustic surroundings of 221B Baker Street. I used to imagine them quite vividly, back when I was an innocent kid. Not anymore.
The alternative is that I try to imagine what would happen if Sherlock Holmes were discovered today, in this day and age, in India. It would not bode too well for our favorite detective. He would experience a systematic pounding by the media and the public until he would be so steeped in his own apparent ignominy that he would kill himself. This is what would happen:
Step 1: An Extraordinary Man Is Discovered
The tabloids would feature him first as a man of extraordinary talent, capable of solving crimes that the inept police can’t. People are impressed at his skills and the newspapers and the news channels run little fluff pieces on him and his abilities. He rapidly rises in the eyes of the public as the eccentric man who can solve the toughest of crimes with his extraordinary mind. He’s awarded a bunch of times by the Government and the Prime Minister gets his photograph clicked with him.
Step 2: The Obligatory Scandal
One persistent little fuck photographs Sherlock Holmes injecting himself with heroin. The photograph becomes a national sensation. How can a hero abuse narcotics? News anchors who can’t report to save their lives fill the TV screens with small-time politicians, ex-police officers and disgraced authors and ask them their opinion of this fallen hero. Four days of non-stop mindless debates about how he was politically motivated by the BJP or the Congress party to inject himself with heroin. One particularly persistent bitch of an anchor takes it upon herself to interview him on national television about this. Sherlock Holmes , with his usual battery of wit, proves to be too much for the dullard anchor to handle. She brands him a “traitor”.
Step 3: The Fall From Grace
He quickly becomes a laughing stock when one particular tabloid carries a photograph of him dozing off in court. He is actually closing his eyes and listening intently, but the tabloid sells sensation, not news.
Step 4: The Midnight Raids
The CBI raids his house in the middle of the night and finds a stash of chemicals, bullet holes in the wall, and the stash of heroin. They drag him out to Tihar Jail, but not before alerting the media of this “surprise” raid. The vultures are waiting for him on the street, and the newspapers splash the sensation on their front pages the next morning. Arnab Goswami is over the moon. “India wants to know the truth, Mr. Holmes!” he screams from the TV screen.
Step 5: The Demise
Sherlock Holmes gets out on bail. He checks himself into a five-star hotel room and overdoses on heroin. The media goes wild over this, and frantically covers the entire spectacle. “A national hero is dead,” mourns the TV anchor sadly. “He was a great man.”