2017, Column, LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

A General, and retired? Hoynaki?

Old soldiers, it says in the Oxford Book of Idioms, or wherever else you look them up, never die. It has come to our notice, amid the tolling of alarm bells for those who choose to timely hear them, that of late they’ve also developed a tendency to refuse to fade away. Didn’t you hear of that Jarnail sitting across the fence in neighbouring Bakistan? Have you not made yourself fully aware of the dire peril we are faced with? Do you not lend your ear (and any other or all of your body parts should the need arise) to the DeeaahLeeder? Has nobody told you it is your national duty to pay heed, homage, attention, respect, obeisance, cess, surcharge, income tax, entertainment tax, goods and services tax, and sundry tributes?

Jaago Mohan Pyaare, the wanton delinquencies of NothingHappened are over, banished, like the thousand rupee note, by imperious decree. Wake up and prostrate yourself to new requirements, conform, don’t question. Are you anti-national? Those hostile Jarnails from across have hatched a dark plot and chickens haven’t emerged from it. Pigeons have. They are being sent across in daring droves, surveillance cams stitched into their wings, their feet strapped with sensors, their beaks ferrying sinister missives. Pigeons that fly in from the west don’t take off with olive branches. They’re olive green, OG in military parlance. And now they’re overhead, in a macabre flap of wings. All it took that Jarnail was a forefinger jab on Facebook: Post! Danger got deployed all over us. And you thought he was retired, that Jairnail, feeding benign birds in his aviary? Just because Mahadeb wasn’t at his appointed station to confirm the peril to you over your morning tumbler of tea? HoyNaKi? (Which in other geographies would translate to either convey utter astonishment or the sense that what’s been posited is unacceptable.) You don’t believe the DeeaahLeeder? HoyNaKi?

Jarnails across that cantankerous concertina fence are scary creatures. They are men of stealth and sleight. They can accompany a hunt for BadenBinLaden all the way to BoraTora when they’ve kept him safe and squirrelled in a mansion in ButButWhereAbad. They can depose prime ministers and then have them hanged on hessian. They instal prime ministers then exile them to RowdyMarebia. They force wars upon them, then leave them to the dogs when those wars are lost. They can take over planes and effect bloodless coups from flying cockpits. One of them exploded in a military plane and, in tattered departure, conspired to have his body parts carpet bomb Bakistan so utterly wholly, that his spectre still breathes and haunts the space. Dangerous folks, these Jarnails. It’s nothing short of suicidal to underplay, or worse, scoff at the peril they pose. Look, we’ve already been cautioned by TheAuthority that one of them Jarnails has his finger on the Facebook button, which is a little more portentous than a nuclear button because once pressed, it takes not one destination, or two, but this whole planet with explosion. Catastrophe looms overhead.

 No wonder, and quite in the rightness of things, NumberToo has been uttering nervous somethings to NumberOne, temporarily so named because he is suddenly a little unsure he is still NumberWon. A conversation snatched.NumberToo: “What’s one to do now, this threat from the Jarnails pushing buttons? Vikas-vikas won’t do, it doesn’t matter to them. And that MaunMaunSingh has suddenly found a tongue. He is jabbering away, conspiring with the enemy, leaking secrets, plotting our defeat. Remember him, Aaka? It’s that same MaunMaunSingh, the one who never won an election himself, that same man who never uttered a syllable! HoyNaKi? We need to do something. ChhappanChhuri, Aaka, that should be enough to neutralise them, no?”

NumberOne: “ChhappanChhuri? Are you kidding me now? Have you not heard of the doctrine of a thousand cuts, or did someone wipe that out by mistake when we ordered history air-brushed? A thousand cuts, they’ve threatened, and here you are trying to brandish ChhappanChhuri! It’s why they call you NumberToo.”

And while spews this awesome worry
Over and across the whole country
Mahadeb remains on some dark scurry
This absence, it is just not done; HoyNaKi?

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