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After watching me on TV many people refuse to believe I have a sense of humour. The sketch in Outlook makes me look like an angry old man, a Devi Lal gone berserk. Ha, no one can write political memoirs without a sense of humour. A friend (not Mani Shankar Aiyar) told me that my book One Life is not Enough sold well because people believed it was a revised and updated version of Once is not Enough, the sex-drenched Jacqueline Susann bestseller of the 1970s. How I wish I could write like that because as my friend E.M. Forster once told me sex does pepper up the narrative. If only he had described in some detail what really happened or did not happen between Dr Aziz and Adela Quested in Passage to India, the book might have sold many more copies and resulted in steamier scenes in the David Lean film version.
Still, I am happy my book is a big hit. So far, 465 journalists have interviewed me though I am certain less than two per cent of them have actually read the book. Today, in order to get those pungent quotes about Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, they are all milk and honey to me but these guys are the same bunch who hounded me during the Volcker revelations. Perhaps I should have used a Shakespearean quote from Julius Caesar to describe the downfall of Sonia, ‘Et tu Natwar, then fall Sonia!’ See, finally a precise quote to deny Mani the opportunity to correct me like the time when I wrongly attributed a quote from Macbeth to Hamlet.
Being in politics and public life, perhaps, gave me this thick skin. Over the simple issue of a recommendation letter to the Iraqi government to help my son’s friend, the media made it out as though I had got the crude from Iraq, stored it in my bungalow’s water tanks, started a filling station, even filled up the tanks of my cars! Even today the pinpricks from the media continue. The Hindu, which I respect, recently published five letters from readers critical of my book. When the party abandoned me over the Volcker report, I felt like Shylock the Jew, in The Merchant of Venice. Manmohan Singh would not admit it, but the US was behind all this. Our pro-west diplomats and politicians laughed at my fears and they too played a role in my isolation. I was shocked when Sonia told me she was not aware of the anti-Natwar campaign during the Volcker days. Ha, she knew everything that was happening in the government and the Congress party!
Of course Rahul did not want his mother to become prime minister. What was wrong if some tears were shed on the occasion? Aren’t we familiar with maa-beta scenes from Bollywood? Of course, I do know more secrets about the Gandhis but there’ll be no sequel to the book.
The Mumbai-based satirist is the creator of ‘Trishanku’; E-mail your secret diarist: vgangadhar70 [AT] gmail [DOT] com