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Political gimmickry

Our politicians, when their fortunes are on the decline, say something outrageous about a celebrity so that they can be back on the front pages of newspapers. Don’t take the views of the uncle-nephew duo Balasaheb Thackeray and Raj Thackeray seriously. Laugh at them instead, writes Khushwant Singh.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2009 02:05 IST

Our politicians, when their fortunes are on the decline, say something outrageous about a celebrity so that they can be back on the front pages of newspapers. No one resorts to this trick more than Bal Thackeray of the Shiv Sena and his nephew Raj Thackeray of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. The elder Thackeray, clad in saffron with a rudraksh mala around his neck, should have taken sanyas many years ago.

But his ego stood in his way and he wanted to see his name and photographs appear in papers other than his own Saamana, which not many people bother to read. He was also smarting under the slap his ungrateful nephew Raj gave him by winning 13 seats to Marashtra Legislative Assembly. So the old Balasaheb hit on the bright idea which would both steal the thunder from his upstart nephew and get everyone in the country talking about him. He chose his target well. The cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has become hero number one of the entire country including those who take little interest in cricket. He also happens to be a Mumbaikar and a Marathi Manoos. What he said is what anyone in his position would have said — that he is, above all other things, an Indian, plays for India and is proud of being an Indian.

Only the now senile Balasaheb found an opportunity to go for him and at the same time score over his nephew. And he did. Right across the country, leaders of all parties condemned him. That is all he wanted — and got.

Now it is for Raj Thackeray to chalk out a plan to get even with his uncle and get back onto the front pages. I don’t know what he has in mind but can suggest another national icon he can go for because Sachin described her “like my mother”. It is Lata Mangeshkar: She is Maharashtrian, India’s most loved singer and a Bharat Ratna. How dare she allow Sachin to touch her feet and greet her as if she was his real mother! It sounds silly but the Thackerays are a silly trio. Don’t take them seriously. Have a hearty laugh at their antics. One thing silly people can’t take is being laughed at.

Poetic license

I was aware of the existence of Eunice De Souza as quite a few of my friends like the poets Nissim Ezekiel, Adil Jyssawalla and my son-in-law Ravi Dayal, then Head of the Oxford University Press in Bombay had read her. But I had not read any of her poems till the publication of A Necklace of Skulls (Penguin). I read all she has chosen of her compilations. There is a freshness and irreverent candour which makes her very readable. I had some difficulty in selecting one as a sample to whet the appetite of my readers. Ultimately I chose Poem For A Poet because it makes a tasty appetiser:

It pays to be a poet
You don’t have to pay prostitutes.
Marie has Spiritual thingummies.
Write her a poem about the
Holy Ghost. Say:
Marie, my frequent sexual encounters
Represent more than an attempt
To find mere physical fulfilment
They are a poet’s struggle to
Transcend the self
And enter into
With the world.
Marie’s eyes will glow
Pentecostal flames will descend
The Holy Ghost will tremble inside her
She will babble in strange tongues:
O Universal Lover
In a state of perpetual erection!
Let me too enter into
Communion with the world
Through thee.

The Eternal Question

Sona: Which came first? The chicken or the egg?
Mona : It was obviously the egg.
Sona: Then who laid the egg?
Mona: Some one must have laid it. Chickens don’t lay eggs.
Sohan: Which came first? The chicken or the egg?
Mohan: Give me the dates on which that particular chicken was hatched, and the date on which the concerned egg was laid, and I will give you the answer.

(Contributed by Rajeshwari Singh,New Delhi)

The views expressed by the author are personal