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‘Home minister’ has a bigger brief

india Updated: Dec 09, 2007 00:32 IST
Upala Sen

When we bought our first apartment, I was in college. Baba took us (me and the Brat) for a walk in the park and prepared us for the move, and then with a cone apiece bargained for more space for his books in our rooms. I remember hitching my thumb into my brand-new stone-wash jeans and asking, “So what’s left to be taken care of?” He replied, with unabashed calm, “Just the finances.”

When we were in school the Brat would slip into Baba’s coat, pick up his briefcase (the grandfather of the portfolio) with both hands and play Baba-boss. I was smarter, I didn’t play work-work because I knew eventually I would have to work. But when I started working I found that the model boss I constantly went back to was the Home Minister. There were a lot of departments at home finances, housekeeping, entertainment, emergency, education and all this had to be monitored, updated and sustained every day with no promise of retirement or relief. And all that the Home Minister did.

And if she did it with precision, she also mixed it with care. So when I returned from my first night shifts I would find food on the table, heated but not so hot that it would scald the tongue, the geyser on and the pullover next to the bed lest I got up at night and felt cold. She had actually preempted all possible discomforts.

The Baba-boss also kowtowed to this highly evolved manager. Here’s an instance. It was a standing joke that when Baba was not at work no one ever wanted to speak to him. And the only time he called or got calls it was to invite or be invited over. Either way he had one reaction. After a hearty hello he would go all silent, his eyes would get a glazed look and then he would say “Just a minute” and put his hands over the receiver and holler “Riniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii”. That, by the way, is the Home Minister’s name. I rest my case.