As television gave updates on late politician Pramod Mahajan’s son, Rahul’s involvement in a drug case, the BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad, took time off to have a chat with son Aditya: “You better discipline yourself. I don’t want a replay of this in my family,” Aditya was cautioned. His daughter Mansi was spared because, as Aditya says, “she is the favoured one… good in everything….” Mansi, a topper in school, has also hosted a TV show for Patna Doordarshan. While “Dad loves Mansi”, Aditya says he is “mom-type”. Ask him to describe his father and he calls him a “two-in-one dad”. In other words, someone who is “traditional and modern, soft and strict, liberal and orthodox”. So, while Prasad expects his children to touch elders’ feet, he also lets them have fun at late night parties.
As for himself, 52-year-old Prasad listens to bhajans by Channulal Mishra when he is tired, Vishnu sahstranaam (1,000 names of Lord Vishnu) when he wants a divine connect, and Kishori Amonkar’s thumri which, he concedes, he does not quite ‘understand’. Though he grew up listening to classical music, he could not go beyond playing Hindi film songs on the mouth organ. Even today, his all time favourite remains: “Mere sapnon ki raani kab aayegi tu….”
Until he had visited Vrindavan, Prasad was a restless soul. But, once there, his search for ‘inner peace’ ended. Today, if one were to ask him what makes him happy, he will tell you that it is neither family nor friends, but “Biharijee” (Lord Krishna).
‘Babbu’ to his family, it was his sister Anuradha who took him to the Banke Bihari temple for its annual ritual. He was hooked. He gets goose-pimples at the very mention. Ask him to describe it and his voice chokes “Anand, ecstasy… sheer joy…” he mutters, eyes half-closed, face up to the sky, almost in a trance. The ritual involves bedecking God and his temple, scrubbing the floors and pouring lots of rose water: “Phool bangla” (house of flowers), explains Prasad, and vividly describes the ‘chhappan bhog’ (56 food preparations) offered to the deity.
Steer him back into this world and life is full of problems: Bruno, the pet dog and ‘chewer’ of his chappals, has to be taken on long walks to keep his weight under check, and a wife who has to shuttle between home in Delhi and a job in Patna.
His marriage to Maya, Prasad says, was “quasi-arranged”. They had met in college and Prasad was, as he says about himself, “a man in a hurry”.