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It was the summer of 2019. A high powered meeting was called for, at 7 Race Course Road, and all the top BJP leaders had answered the call. The leaders hurriedly stood up, as Prime Minister LK Advani entered the room.
“Good morning folks! I’m just back from blogging about why I won’t be surprised if we lose this year,” said Advani, with a wide smile, drawing pained grimaces from the leaders present in the room.
“Anyway, we’ve had a pretty good 5 years in the government, though maligned by opportunism, disillusionment and the likes, to name a few. Before we start a full-throttle campaign for the upcoming elections, with yours truly running for the 2nd term as PM, I suggest we all take a vacation to rejuvenate ourselves – a week’s break all alone, without staying in touch with either our families or with each other! Are we clear?” asked Advani, drawing a rousing “Aye!” from the assembled leaders.
Though the alliance’s performance was not up to the mark, they were confident of getting a second term. With Rahul Gandhi still continuing to look for bigger roles in the opposition, nothing could go wrong for them. The party leaders began to make plans…
Arun Jaitley felt a remarkable peace of mind as he entered the remotest of caves atop the mighty Everest. “My isolation cannot get any more majestic than this,” he thought to himself gleefully. He lit up a fire using dried wooden sticks and descended into a deep, meditative trance in the gathering dark.
Suddenly, a bright yellow halo appeared around Jaitley. Jaitley smiled beatifically. “Enlightenment,” he murmured.
“BULLSHIT,” hollered a rough voice behind him, and turned off the torchlight that was pointed at Jaitley.
Jaitley opened his eyes, and froze in disbelief. “Y…y…yeti?” he mumbled in terror, as beads of sweat materialized on his forehead.
“HAHAHA!” guffawed the hirsute creature, its laughter resonating menacingly in the cavernous surroundings.
Jaitley stumbled out of the cave and fled for his life.
There was no other place she’d rather be, no other thing she’d rather do. With a blissful smile on her face, Sushma Swaraj squinted at the early morning sun, and danced a few Kathak steps on her boat in the Kerala backwaters.
“1.. 2.. 3.. turn,” she mumbled, giggling to herself, and launched into a flurry of flawless steps, at the end of which she breathlessly whooped in delight.
Suddenly, the music stopped. Swaraj abruptly turned in the direction of the interruption. There was no one. She stepped out of her cabin and looked left and right. Nothing, but the empty boat rocking gently against the waves. And then her eyes fell on the puddles of water on the floorboards. With growing uneasiness, she followed the trail of water puddles right to the cabin.
A heavyset figure in sodden clothes stood at the cabin’s door with one leg crossed against the other. Leaning against the door’s frame, the hirsute creature raised its hands to clap slowly.
“Continue,” it said with a devilish grin, taking a step towards Swaraj. “Thayya thakka thai thai ..thayya thakka thai thai..”
Swaraj stumbled backwards towards the edge of the boat. “Who… who…. who are you?” she stammered.
The creature laughed. Swaraj shrieked, and toppled into the water.
“Hey Ram,” intoned Rajnath Singh, as he removed his shirt, and waded into the Ganges. The cool water washed over him, quickly cooling his heated body, instantly calming his troubled mind. With practiced elegance, Rajnath held his breath, closed his eyes and slid underwater.
“Hey Ram,” thought Rajnath, and opened his eyes underwater. Something was coming towards him from a distance, spurting a great volume of bubbles. Rajnath blinked. He must be imagining things.
He rose above water, drew a deep breath, closed his eyes, sank underwater and opened his eyes again.
A devilish and an utterly terrifying face with a ghostly white mane grinned at him from within a few inches of his face.
Rajnath’s eyes widened and he let out a noiseless shriek. His limbs flaying in all directions, a panic stricken Rajnath swam the rest of the way towards the shore, picked up his towel, and ran for his life.
“Wah bhai wah!” applauded Nitin Gadkari, and let out a throaty burp for good measure.
Vehicles whizzed by on the Punjab highway, as Gadkari stretched himself on the charpai, placed another slab of butter on the last paratha on his plate, and called out to the dhaba owner.
“Suno! Paanch aloo ke parathe aur la re. Chhole ke saath!”
The dhaba owner was prepared. After all, Gadkari was a regular customer. The parathas were ready in no time.
“Aah! Badhiaya!” nodded Gadkari in appreciation, sniffing at a paratha with the air of a connoisseur.
The dhaba owner smiled. “Aap khate rahiye Sir. Mein lassi leke aata hoon.”
Gadkari ignored him. He was busy. He folded a paratha, looked at it with familial fondness and shoved it into its mouth.
“Mmmm,” he said, closing his eyes as he chewed.
Something was slapped on his table with a vehement force. That must be the lassi, thought Gadkari. Without opening his eyes, he reached out, wrapped his fingers around the glass and tugged at it. But the thing wouldn’t move.
Gadkari opened his eyes and noticed the hand that held the glass down. With one palm wrapped around the glass, Gadkari grabbed the fingers around the glass with his other palm and attempted to prise them off. The hand was too strong.
Anger rose within Gadkari like a storm. “What do you think you are doing?” he demanded, as he looked up to stare at the dhaba owner.
Only it wasn’t the dhaba owner. A disheveled looking figure wearing a devilish lopsided grin stared back at him. Gadkari choked on the paratha he was chewing on, and broke into a violent coughing fit. A second later, he bent over at the table’s side, to heave the morning’s intake into the ground. When he looked up, the man was gone.
Too shaken by what happened, Gadkari did what he had never done in his life. He left the dhaba with his plate still half-full.
For 4 days, LK Advani was enjoying his stint as a guest columnist for The UnReal Times. He was posting articles under the pseudonym, “Gran ol’ dude.”
“Gadkari’s Facebook wall on day 1, Rajnath’s Gmail Inbox on day 2, a picture series about Sushmaji on day 3, a transcript of Arun Jaitley on day 4! What’s tomorrow gonna be all about, Ashwin?” Advani asked The UnReal Times columnist who was mentoring him.
“Tomorrow’s gonna be the big daddy of them all, a mock Google+ hangout with Narendra Modi,” Ashwin replied.
“Wow! Wow! Wow! When shall we start?” exclaimed Advani, clapping excitedly. Ashwin smiled good naturedly at the veteran leader. “If only we had your levels of energy, Sir. Can we do it tomorrow?”
“Okay,” said the veteran leader, looking disappointed.
“Oh, this came to our mailbox this morning,” said Ashwin, handing Advani a package. “I think someone sent you a videotape.”
Advani pulled into 7, Race Course Road. The bungalow wore a desolate look; he had given all the servants the week off. He brewed himself a cup of tea, slipped the video cassette into the player, and made himself comfortable on the sofa.
The screen buzzed with static. Seconds later, an image of a whiskey bottle appeared on the screen, and stayed on for a few seconds, before a hairy arm grabbed the whiskey bottle and lifted it out of view. The screen dissolved into static…
A black and white, grainy footage of what seemed to be Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana came on. Sita was about to offer herself to the fire. “Bad husband!” boomed a voice in the background. Static took over the screen again…
Sagarika Ghose from CNN-IBN came on. “But does your conscience permit you to actually do this, sir? Are you not going against morality, here?” she squealed. “Who the hell is the press to decide what is moral and what is not? I will not tolerate this bullshit from some chit of a girl!” boomed the same voice. The screen faded into static…
A disheveled, bespectacled man appeared on the screen. “Mr. Thapar, I thought you would’ve changed but you haven’t changed even a bit. You are still the same old, irresponsible journalist. This interview is over!” he boomed.
The screen now showed bits of old footage from Times Now, CNN-IBN and NDTV… “Ram Jethmalani has been expelled for 6 years… the BJP has thrown out veteran lawyer Ram Jeth…. In a major blow to Modi, BJP has thrown his staunchest supporter out of…,” blared the screen in a cacophony of voices.
The cup of tea lay spilt at Advani’s foot. The veteran leader was sitting huddled at the edge of his seat, his entire body trembling. He leapt from his seat, switched off the TV, pulled the cord from the electrical socket, and retreated to the far corner of the room. He slid to the floor, shut his eyes, covered his ears with his hands and closed himself from the world.
A second later, his phone vibrated in his pocket. Shivering uncontrollably, Advani let the phone ring for an entire minute, before mustering the courage to answer the call.
“H..H…Hello,” stammered Advani.
“You will have me back in 7 days.”