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Knots and crosses

JD(U) MP Mangani Lal Mandal … told the High Court here [in Patna] he doesn’t know how many wives he has. Manas Chakravarty writes.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2011 00:48 IST
Manas Chakravarty

JD(U) MP Mangani Lal Mandal … told the High Court here [in Patna] he doesn’t know how many wives he has.

The Times of India, April 14

So, Mangani Lal, did you misplace some of your wives inadvertently? It must make you nervous when a woman looks at you, you’ll be wondering all the time whether she’s one of your wives. What did you say? You even asked the reporter sent to interview you whether she was your wife? Your memory must be in terrible shape. You even married the same girl twice? Cool.

But suppose some woman takes advantage of you by claiming to be your wife? Ah, you like to be taken advantage of, Mangani Lal, you sly one. Did you know Jacob Zuma is the South African president and there’s some confusion about the number of his wives? He must be your hero. But thank you, Manganiji, for planning to have a census of your wives soon. We’re all agog for the results.

Tribal politician Bagun Sambrai … has over a dozen wives

The Times of India, April 14

Not two, not four, but more than a dozen, Mr Sambrai? Most of us have a tough time trying to handle one, you know. Another report quotes you, ‘“Lord Krishna is my inspiration. He married 1,600 women and the world worships him.”’ The more you marry, the more spiritual merit you earn. So this is hard work, sir, not pleasure? As you told the reporter, “If they find something attractive in me, what can I do? I cannot disappoint anyone who wants to marry me.” How noble. Or are you trying to build up a vote bank through marriage, Mr Sambrai? Would your wives’ relations be your votes-in-law?

Did you say practice makes perfect and you’re working your way forward wife by wife to the ideal marriage? There’s no reason to go step by step, you know. You can marry the next 1,580 or so at one go in one giant wedding, though I shudder to think of the post-nuptial exertions.

“I came seriously close to getting married four times and … I guess I backed off in fear.”

Ratan Tata on CNN International’s Talk Asia programme

Mangani Lal must be wishing he had half your sense, Mr Tata, apart from half your money. But is your way the right one? You’ve said that when you look at the women, you think what you did wasn’t such a bad thing. Maybe they think the same.

If you loved four of them you might have got married four times, right? Think of the divorces, the alimony, the unending battles to grab the TV remote. Perhaps we should learn from ND Tiwari — the worst that can happen is a paternity suit. No thinking man can marry — Cogito, ergo single. It’s so much safer to marry Tata Steel with Corus.

Or did you get scared after seeing your girlfriends’ mothers-in-law, adorned with hair curlers and mud packs?

So what’s the moral of these stories? Whom should a young man follow? Mr Sambrai or Mr Mandal or Mr Tata? Or, indeed, Mr Karunanidhi? The lesson you learn from the southern supremo is that even if you have more than one wife, make sure you don’t have children. And if contraception fails, please don’t name the kid Stalin. He would have turned out very differently if he was called Kafka.

And what if you marry just one woman? I did. As you can see, all I can write about is other people’s wives.

(Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint. The views expressed by the author are personal )