I exchanged a few words with Narain Dutt Tiwari many long years ago. He was then a minister of something or the other. I, a vagrant pen-pusher. He happened to be on the same flight from Delhi to Rome: he to attend some conference, I to get a connecting flight from Rome to Tripoli for a brain-washing session organised by Colonel Gaddafi’s government of Libya.
I found Tiwari handsome, paunchy and affable. I had heard of his being somewhat of a Lothario but he behaved with absolute rectitude towards Air India’s pretty air-hostess. Soon he was fast asleep snoring lustily. It was said that he rose to eminence because he was a khushaamdee tuttoo, a flattering pony. When Sanjay Gandhi was in power, a doggerel often quoted about him ran:
Main Narain Dutt Tiwari hoon
Main Sanjay kee savaaree hoon
Naa nar hoon, naa naaree hoon
Indira kaa pujaaree hoon
His reputation as a womaniser gained currency after a young man filed a paternity suit against his claiming to be his illegitimate son.
He denied it but his name continued to be associated with different women. When they got into important positions, men tend to get a revival of their libidos. Women are also drawn to them as moths to a flame. That is why many working women fall for their bosses. However, at 86 getting a bevy of young women to lie beside one in the master bedroom of a Raj Bhawan is behaving like the Sultan Sulaiman of Mashooqnagar of medieval ages. And not acceptable today. Sonia Gandhi was right in sacking him. I compiled another doggerel as a dirge in Tiwari’s honour: Tiwariji, Tiwariji, now where will you go / You have no power and now no seraglio
It is not customary for non-Christians to exchange presents on Christmas. Hindus do it on Diwali, Muslims on Eid-ul-Fitr. Last Christmas, I was in for a pleasant surprise. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan sent me two of his latest publications through his daughter Fareeda: A New translation of The Quran (Goodword) and The Prophet of Peace: Teachings of the Prophet Mohammed (Penguin).
I have great respect for Wahiduddin as a scholar of Islam who interprets his faith for the modern generation and at the same time points out follies of Mullah-minded Muslims for ever pronouncing fatwas on non-issues and calling for jihad against anyone they do not approve of. Among the many honours conferred on him was one by Virender Trehen’s Foundation for Amity and National Solidarity.
I have a few translations of the Quran in English including Pickthall’s and Amir Ali’s — the first recognised as lyrically the most readable, and the second, as the most accurate. I spent a few hours reading Wahiduddin’s renderings of my favourite passages, particularly the last short suras which are in lyrical prose. All I can say is I found them more readable than any translations I had read earlier. I recommend it to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Lovers of the English language might enjoy this. It is yet another example of why people learning English have trouble with the language. Learning the nuances of English makes it a difficult language. (But then, that’s probably true of many languages). There is a two-letter word in English that perhaps has more meaning than any other two-letter word, and that word is ‘up’. It is listed in the dictionary as being used as an (adv),(pre), (adj), (n), or (v).
It’s easy to understand up, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning why do we wake up?
At a meeting, why does a topic come up? Why do we speak up, and why are the officers up for elections and why is it up to the secretary to write up a report?
We call up our friends and we use it to brighten up a room, polish up the silver. We warm up the leftovers and clean up the kitchen. We lock up the house and some guys fix up the old car. At other times, the little word has a real special meaning. People stir up trouble, line up for tickets, work up an appetite, and think up excuses.
To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed up is special.
And this up is confusing: A drain must be opened up because it is stopped up.
We open up a store in the morning but we close it up at night. We seem to be pretty mixed up about Up!
To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of up, look the word up in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary it takes up almost 1/4th of the page and can add up to about thirty definitions.
If you are up to it, you might try building up a list of the many ways up is used. It will take up a lot of your time, but if you don’t give up, you may wind up with a hundred or more. When the sun comes out, we say it is cleaning up. When it rains, it wets up the earth. When it does not rain for a while, things dry up.
One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it up for now … my time is up, so time to shut up!
Oh… one more thing: Now I’ll shut up.
(Courtesy: Vipin Buckshey, Delhi)