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First boy

In conservative Rajasthan, Congressman Abhishek Manu Singhvi enjoyed 'complete monopoly' as a male child for eleven years till his aunt had a son, writes Kumkum Chadha.
None | By Kumkum Chadha
UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2007 02:48 AM IST

As a child, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi followed one particular ritual everyday: he would go to the balcony of his first-floor house in Jodhpur and throw down spoons, forks, knives and whatever else he could lay his hands on. Apart from depleting his mother’s kitchen, angry pedestrians would often storm into their house to spank him.

In conservative Rajasthan, Manu, as he is popularly known, enjoyed 'complete monopoly' as a male child till his aunt had a son. Even if you don’t ask him, he will tell you how many times he stood first and the fact that the only prank he played in his 11 years in school was missing it for a day. His class teacher was so shocked when he discovered that his 'most serious and bright boy' was one of the pranksters that all he could say was, “Et tu Brute?” Singhvi also never forgets to mention that he was the youngest law graduate, the youngest to secure a doctorate and the youngest Additional Solicitor General of India.

Born in 1959, he was named Manu because his grandmother was reciting the Manu Smriti when he was born. It was in his last year in school that Abhishek was added because his parents wanted some kind of a “literary flavour” to Manu, which was often distorted to Munna, Mani or Munto.

A movie buff, Singhvi likes going for late-night shows on Fridays. Earlier his heartthrobs were Mumtaz, Neetu Singh, Juhi Chawla and Deepti Naval, in that order. Currently, it’s Kareena Kapoor. When his wife, Anita, was pregnant, he would insist that they walk to catch a late-night horror movie. His in-laws summoned Anita back thinking this was some kind of “torture”. Today, they laugh at this and other incidents like him losing his wedding ring on their honeymoon or him being an “ill-omen” for her family — his brother-in-law died soon after their engagement and there was once a plane hijack with Anita’s parents on board.

He still has the thick file that his parents had made with pictures of eligible women; his marriage to Anita has “a wash room context”. Had Anita’s father not put him up in his haveli, Singhvi may have married someone else.

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