Culture
Excerpts From The Insider
From love and sex, politics and power to Indira Gandhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru
COMMENTS PRINT
Culture
For the last 15 years, Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao has been writing an unfinished, semi-autobiographical novel
Sagarika Ghose

ON LOVE

The jokes however could not mask Niranjan's distress. It was no longer possible to hoodwink Sumitra; she had caught him red handed as it were.... The next hour and a half he spent in endless repentance for having accepted the invitation--her invitation.... He was just torturing himself.... Finally he decided to banish all thoughts on either side-and plunge headlong into what was coming, whatever it was.... They lay in silence for a long long time. As it grew darker, they came closer. He lay with his head on her lap while she combed through his smooth hair with her fingers and kissed him on the forehead. Then they exchanged places and she rested her head on his chest, making him feel her undulating line against himself. Their bodies, like strangers meeting for the first time, introduced themselves to each other. It was a process in which millions of pores, blood vessels and reflexes were involved In an all out mutual comprehension.

ON POLITICS

Chaudhury became an expert in the art of political make-up. He perfected the art of mouthing his Party's ideology endlessly, without believing a word of it. It worked very well and he found that by and large he was in identical company. No one gave a damn for beliefs, the sole stock-in-trade being words. Many had--or thought they had--hoodwinked Gandhi by wearing short loin-cloths lust reaching the knees and leaving the rest of the body In shirtless simplicity, while they fornicated with any woman who came their way and earned tons of money by downright illegal means.

There comes a time when politics seem pointless even to a politician. It holds no promise, brings no rewards, affords no satisfaction. On the other hand, it leaves you fretting under a relentless maligning blitz from all sides. There is no way you can get away, nor to fight your way, since you don't know whom to fight, not even a shadow.

ON POWER

It was not easy to conduct himself as he wished to. To resist the temptations of power maddening, intoxicating, distracting, exciting. To keep reminding himself that the magic of democracy had catapulted him into a position of eminence, while many others who had slogged much more and much longer remained where they had been. To divine the truth from the trash of inconsequential events which compel attention day in and day out. To meet crowds of people with a smiling face, without thinking, as some others did, that the riff raff were wasting their time. The riff raff--yes, that was what his intellectual friends called the people at large. The unseen foundation of a cherished system. Unseen, ignored, ridiculed, spurned.... Ignorance copied from ignorance, servility emulating servility He felt himself as being looked upon as a new being characterised by arrogance, superciliousness, sensuality, self-centeredness and love of sycophancy. Yes, as a Minister he was expected to answer this description. Lots of people took it as a fact of life and proceeded to cater to it the way they knew how..., He was flabbergasted at this sudden change of attitude of those around him, including many friends. As if they thought that by becoming a Minister he had degenerated into an Inferior and vastly baser individual overnight. He analysed the situation.... He found himself neutral to the experience of power.

ON CASTE

But how, he asked himself angrily, does a Brahmin or a Reddy or a Yadav or a Jatav or any other castelabelled bastard know that his mother had not slept with a stud-bull of another caste and begotten him, complete with caste seal and label? How can anyone assert that this nation, or any nation for that matter, is not composed of a vast number of unidentified bastards? Unidentified because their mothers are married? Why should that piece of thread called mangalsutra or a wedding ring or any other external distinctive mark make such a whale of a difference? Why? Why? And here he was Ramchander Nothing, yet a blazing success story if ever there was one. We have seen the caste factor, which was a social phenomenon for ages become all pervasive in...elections.

ON A POLITICIAN

Sex was like itch to Jeevan; the urge to fornicate wasn't very different from the urge to urinate. His need was quite simple, his detractors said-- to wit, any female vaginal orifice. They didn't quite say that a human female was not always necessary, but the comment sounded just like that....All of which added up, rather unaccountably, to his reputation as a strict administrator never influenced by any woman. He knows, they said, just what to do with any woman who came to influence him-- oblige her in bed to her heart's content, but never touch official files. He developed no attachment with any female beyond the duration of the coitus. He treated them all with equal contempt and got rid of them quick.... And just when Nalini Devi threatened to become an exception to this excellent formula, Jeevan fired his first salve against her husband.

ON INDIRA GANDHI

Well, my dear friend, you overlook some simple facts of human psychology, If you pardon my saying So. Take it from me, Indira Gandhi will never, repeat never, get over her complex-·a very complex complex indeed, consisting of elements such as a feeling of inferiority, sense of insecurity, and an admission of inadequacy inside, a nagging awareness of depthlessness coupule, above all, with the consuming ambition to attain immortal fame eclipsing her great father....And much more, of course. And given the fact that she is a woman, the:enigma deepens infinitely. Mark my words, brother, Indfra Gandhi has come to stay. Make no mistake, she will be the country's topic number one for a long time to come. The country has to learn to live with her, rather under her, far better or for worse.

ON JAWAHARLAL NEHRU

But what has this man done to ensure against an uncertain future? He gave us lofty ideas, great personal example, remarkable deeds, unmatched respect in world councils, elaborate physical infrastructure, firm ideological anchorage, something to look forward to...yes..yes..yes..YES! But what is the human material he has entrusted all this legacy to? He has made a glorious place for himself, but where will his successors take the country? If he was Mahatma Gandhi's heir, who, for heaven's sake, is his heir? Collective leadership? For what? For whom? Why did he not realise that the fabric he had woven for the nation's future was primarily sustained by his own personality? How would it carry on if he was no more? Where is the faith? Where is the vision? Where is the lamp lit by this lamp?"

ON CHILDHOOD

The first thing he could remember was a soft round object with its tip thrust in his mouth which he later identified as his mother's breast. A rather nice fluid flowed from it, which he swallowed greedily. With one eye he could peer at a neck, a chin, a cheek, one side of a nose, an eye and a shock of long black hair which sometimes fell on his face and gave him a tickling agreeable sensation. The other eye -could only see a small semi - dark area under the breast. But this other eye would also see a similar outline of neck, chin, cheek and nose when the other breast was thrust into his mouth; at the time he did not know there were two.

COMMENTS PRINT
Culture
For the last 15 years, Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao has been writing an unfinished, semi-autobiographical novel
Sagarika Ghose

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