When BJP president Nitin Gadkari called to say I was part of his team, it was like getting an express bouncer from a spinner. For a moment, I was dazed. Confused like a child in a topless bar. “Thank you, sir,” I muttered even as I heard the click of the receiver coming down at the other end. “I am part of the team! I’m in the team!” I shouted with joy. The wife (incidentally, her name’s also Navjot, and the chairman of the selection committee once told her over the phone that she had been selected for a New Zealand tour!) was naturally perplexed: “Kyaaji, at 47 have they recalled you to the Indian team? Are they so desperate?” Well, what can one say to something as incredulous as that? I for one did what I used to do on all those comedy shows I judged—laughed like a jackass. But then I stopped myself in double-quick time. This was serious business. Being part of Mr Gadkari’s team was not like playing expert on TV. In fact, when I thought of the import of my new job I felt, to use a Sidhuism, as uncomfortable as a bum on a porcupine.
Anyway, that apart, I decided it was best to go back to the cricket basics to impress the boss. “Surprise him, Navjot,” an inner voice told me, “surprise him like Murali foxes batsmen with his doosra.” I pondered for a while and then saw the (100 watt) light. “Learn some Marathi, good fella, that will astonish him,” I told myself. So, pronto I rung up Raj Thackeray. “Maharaj, you have to help me with this one. If not, I will be like a drowning man who left his straw behind in the dressing room,” I pleaded. Good old Raj in his trademark Marathi (translated into angrezi by one of his aides) suggested I cut the hyperbole and get to the point. “Boss, teach me some Marathi,” I implored him, “without your help I’ll be like a man making omelettes without breaking the eggs.”
Of course, Raj was most helpful although at first he thought I was keen to learn the swear words. I was quick to point out that I needed to learn the decent Marathi words. Thankfully, he understood. Anyway, to cut a long story short, we kept the phone lines busy as he put me through the paces. So, the next time I met Mr Gadkari I launched into “Tumhi kase aahat? Tumchya team madhe sahbhagi honnyacha mala samman vatato. (How are you? I am honoured to be part of your team).” And was he impressed! Well, to use another Sidhuism, he smiled like a child who’s finally got a candy he was denied. “Oh you speak Marathi. That’s very good,” he said even as the other secretaries present (Varun Gandhi included) smarted. After all, Sidhu had scored another six! Anyway, on the way out I spoke briefly to Varun. “You can’t sing if you haven’t learnt to talk,” I said rather cryptically. Hopefully, the message will not be lost on him....
(As imagined by Ajith Pillai)