Dear Maya*,

Avec le soutien de

I know that this letter may surprise you as you and I are not exactly friends. Once upon a time, you did not appreciate my musings about you, you asked for an apology without giving a cogent reason why I should apologise and when I didn’t, you chucked me out of parliament like an old sock, thus depriving me of a great source of live entertainment. You did after that send messengers asking me to join you for a cup of tea. Though I did not honour the invitation, I am now writing to tell you how much I miss you.

I once thought we could not possibly stoop lower or have a more biased, aggressive and short-fused speaker who was acting more as a goal keeper than a referee. It turns out I was wrong. And it didn’t take long for Mauritius to start missing everything about you, including… your shrieking. As soon as the Diolles, Koonjoos, Rawoos, Chukowrys and Maudhoos… were done with their venomous tirades against the opposition and their sick deification of their leader and his father, your successor immediately started showing his true colours. And we began looking back with nostalgia to the good old days when – as a defeated candidate – you lorded over all the elected members and treated them like schoolchildren.

Yes, your screeching was excruciating but it was feminine and though it may have pierced quite a few eardrums, it did not scare many mortals. Your successor’s yelling with his eyes popping out, on the other hand, brought back memories of a terrible school bully who sent terrified kids reeling into their mothers’ laps. His demeanour is nothing like yours nor can he have the same pretensions to your sartorial elegance. I always admired the way you seemed to effortlessly glide into the National Assembly in your well-draped saris and look as elegant when you walked out as when you walked in. I was even secretly jealous of you. It takes half a dozen safety pins to drape my sari and an insurance policy against it coming undone after a few hours. 

“Your successor has an advantage over you: he has two ears in working order. Except that they are not connected to each other. They are both directly linked to his mouth.” 

As for your partiality, it was legendary. We all thought you had your right ear permanently switched on to hear the opposition and shut them up or order them out while your left ear never heard anything from the government benches. As it happens, your successor has an advantage over you: he has two ears in working order. Except that they are not connected to each other. They are both directly linked to his mouth. The left ear is used to listen to government ministers and immediately act on their instructions by asking the opposition to “withdraw” and the other is meant to hear any comment coming from the opposition and ask them to shut up “or else”. 

I know you are now away in your new homeland, enjoying the life of luxury your closeness with the ruling family entitles you to and using the tonnes of spare time you have on your hands looking for answers. We are all in a perpetual search for the truth and it often comes our way when we least expect it. Remember Newton? One day, with the grace of God, both you and your successor will find one piece of truth that will change your perception of the world: that the verb “withdraw” is a transitive verb. That is, it requires a direct object. When used as an intransitive verb, it has a totally different meaning which, it is safe to assume, cannot be intended by you or your successor as you still need those elected people to stay in parliament. In your search for wisdom, you both may also come across a rare entity called “articles”. These come in various forms – ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ – and they normally precede nouns and help the addressee understand what is being talked about. So, shouting in parliament “bring document” is not exactly the idea we have of a clear sentence or indeed of English, even when it is badly spoken. 

Many people here have learnt one major lesson this week: that no matter how bad things may seem to be, they can still get worse. I would like to share that lesson with you and convey to you the best wishes of the Mauritian people who must miss you as much as I do. 

Oh, and for that cup of tea, I am happy to take you up on the offer at your next visit. I will provide the petits fours – a symbolic gesture to show that you are not the speaker I appreciate the least. I also undertake NEVER to have a cup of tea until I have one with you. That is my way of atoning for my sin!

*Former speaker of the National Assembly

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