Christmas is upon us and the New Year is just around the corner. 2020, there is a nice symmetry, roundness and ring to the sound of the coming year. Doubtless some smart aleck advertising copywriter will dub it T20. In keeping with the usual custom, just about every one you know along with many you don’t know, keep sending you messages, to which you are obliged to respond. Whether you actually do so or not is another matter. In pre-digital and social media times, we trotted off to Archies, Hallmark or some such establishment with a carefully selected list of people you cared about, and spent a pretty penny on UNICEF cards which made you feel good about having contributed to something worthwhile. Signing each one of them was a bit of a pain, though the easy option of having your signature pre-printed in royal blue on hundreds of cards was the coward’s way out. I know many people who did this, especially in corporate offices. Just not done, old chap. One must also make mention of the funny cards. You know, the ones with jokes, cartoons, pop-ups and generally puerile one liners – these were best avoided, but the kids loved them.
Anyhow, my inbox has started swelling with these electronic greetings from my bank managers, mutual fund houses, business associates, political parties I have supported and political parties I have shunned. What was The Godfather’s famous one liner? ‘Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.’ Add to this my car service outfit, my physiotherapist, my dentist and a clutch of restaurants I may have patronised over the years. There are more but those will suffice for now. At least, that is what I thought at first.
Closer inspection revealed that some unusual personages had also sent me season’s greetings through email. How they obtained my mail id will forever remain an enigma. Unusual in the sense that these were not just normal friends and relatives or bank managers. They were VIPs, people who are newsmakers and would be classified as ‘top-of-mind’ celebrities across categories – Politics, Sport, Films and Media. At first I could not believe my eyes. First time in years people of such eminence have deigned to recognise my existence. Me, a humble columnist hack, who hacks away every week simply because he loves his pastime of juxtaposing words in such a way that they make for amusing reading. Naturally, my joy knew no bounds and, unlike the other messages, I started opening these mails breathlessly, one by one. Of course, I then discovered that these were not actually goodwill missives but exculpatory statements on various issues, and likely circulated en masse. Even you, dear reader, might have received these mails. I am sharing the contents of some of the gems I unearthed from the morass that was my inbox.
Before I actually get into these VIP mails, I must issue a caveat. I have absolutely no means of ascertaining if they are genuine or just put out by pranksters who have nothing better to do than send fake messages to all and sundry. I therefore accept no responsibility for the authenticity of said messages, and the only reason I am sharing them is because they make for amusing reading.
Sourav Ganguly – ‘The only CAB I know is the Cricket Association of Bengal. Now the country is going bonkers over CAB, NRC, CAA, whatever that is, and everyone thinks I have something to do with it. For God’s sake, leave me and my family alone. Even my daughter Sana has been dragged into this messy affair. She is supposed to have tweeted some message, when I know for a fact that she has not. All fake. Baaje kotha!’
Sana Ganguly – ‘I don’t know how to tell Baba, but I did send that message that is creating so much disturbance. Actually, I didn’t compose any message. Just retweeted something someone else had said many years ago. Somebody called Khushwant Singh. No idea who he is, or was. Now my parents have gated me for one week. What about my Christmas and New Year parties? Sarbonaash!’
Derek O’Brien (Trinamool Congress) – ‘See my tee shirt? It’s got “NO NRC” and “NO CAA” scrawled in B-L-O-O-D. No, I tell a lie. It’s just red paint. I tried to get some volunteers to slash their wrists and donate some blood for the greater cause, but they just told me to go slash my own wrists. As I am anaemic and faint at the sight of blood, I took the easy way out. Though I must say it looked pretty dramatic on television. I was once an ad man, you know.’
Mamata Banerjee – ‘What nonsense this BJP is doing with CAA, CAB, BCCI, NRC ETC? I am now approaching United Nations to organise a referendum in India so that the real voice of our peoples will be heard. My party will not accept any of this, mind it! And why our Bengali cricket champion Sourav should get involved with Amit Shah’s son? Very worrying. Plus that Babul Supriyo fellow is also giving me headaches. Why can’t he just sing? His singing is much better than his politics. Even I am nowadays leading chorus singing. BJP CHI CHI, CAA CHI CHI, CAB CHI CHI, NRC CHI CHI , KA KA, KI KI. Ki korbo, bolo to!’
Arnab Goswami – ‘I have in my studio 27 people to talk about this CAB / NRC stir. Actually there’s not enough room on the television screen to accommodate so many people, so I have decided that they will all be huddled together in the same room and all of them will talk (read shout) at the same time. I believe in democracy, and if we can’t all listen to each other, we will talk at the top of our voices together. I will lead the chorus. All together now, let’s have some lung power…’
Rajdeep Sardesai – ‘Every time I attack the ruling party, my colleague Rahul Kanwar queers the pitch by coming up with a strong defence on the government’s behalf. Once or twice, he even checkmated me. This must stop. I will speak to our boss, Aroon Purie, and try and convince him that you can’t run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. At least, not on the same channel.’
Nidhi Razdan – ‘Both Srinivasan Jain and I are fed to the back teeth trying to go one up on people like Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and Harish Salve. Despite all our homework and background checks, they seem to have all the answers. That does not make us look very bright. How can we attack the government if we keep talking to brilliant people like this? I am trying to approach Prannoy to get us some dullards to interview, but he is always relaxing somewhere in some beach resort with his pals Dorab and Shekhar with a cameraman in tow, trying to buttonhole some unsuspecting evening walker about pre-election polls. Nice job, if you can get it!’
Cyrus Broacha – ‘I am giving our Prime Minister 10 on10 for his overall performance. I am proud to be an Indian. People who say nasty things about him are all afflicted by that jealous green-eyed monster. Which reminds me, I must call the U.S. Consular office to check if my Green Card is ready. Gotta rush. Ciao!’
Rahul Gandhi – ‘Let me get one thing straight. My name is not Rahul Savarkar. Truth to tell, my surname was actually, originally Ghandy and not Gandhi. But that’s another story. Half the time I wake up not knowing who I actually am, which country I belong to, what with my mother being an Italian and everything. One guy in Rome asked me if Mahatma Gandhi was my grandfather. I confused him, saying the Mahatma was my father, and the father of 130 crore Indians! That shut him up. Is it any wonder I have an identity problem?’
Amit Shah – ‘We may be losing some state elections here and there, but have no worry. We will not budge an inch on CAA, CAB and NRC or any other acronym you wish to hurl at me. And don’t smirk. I do know words like ‘acronym.’ And ‘smirk.’ Thanks to all you English channels, my English has improved. Thank you. Vande Mataram.’
The Prime Minister – ‘I am working very hard to achieve our target of becoming a US 5 trillion economy. To this end I will be visiting 10 countries over the next 15 days. Domestic issues? No problem. I have a strong team handling all such matters. What was that? You like my new glasses? Great, they are rose tinted. Jai Hind.’