My grandma's open letter to Nitish Kumar
And wishing you a very Happy Chhath Puja!
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"I want to show you something," my grandmother said to me. She'd been scribbling away for days, but at her ripe age, I could hardly suspect her of writing love letters. Turns out, she'd read about the concept of "open letters" and thought of writing her first one to Nitish Kumar.
Here is what she wrote:
Dear Nitish beta,
Many congratulations on winning the elections in Bihar. Most days my joints make me feel so disjointed, I can't even get up, but I'd have still attended your oath-taking ceremony on November 20 had you invited me. Having spent my entire life arranging shaadis, janamdins, jagrans and kirtans, it was an effort to keep myself from thinking about your grand event. No wonder, I lapped up every detail poured out in the name of "Breaking News" by our overactive news channels, and based on that information, I offer a few grandmotherly suggestions. Hope you like these.
I'm glad you are inviting all the A-list politicians like Sonia, Rahul, Arvind, Mamata, Akhilesh, Uddhav, and of course, Lalu and Sharad, but there are many others who merit an invitation, too, especially the 56 odd writers who prepared a winning pitch for you right before the elections. I mean who would have expected someone as soft-spoken and willowy as Nayantara Sahgal to stir up an Award Wapsi revolution. I was impressed by her stance and was hoping she would return the one lakh rupee cash prize recently bestowed upon her at a Lit Fest in Chandigarh, but she did not, which was such a disappointment! There were many others who joined Sahgal, and though I can scarcely recall their names (except of course, Arundhati Roy), they were all godsend, and must not be left out of the festivities. That makes me wonder, why are writers not returning awards ever since the Bihar poll results came out? Maybe now we are back to being a "tolerant nation", the way we always were.
You must not forget to add the name of the RBI governor, Raghuram Rajan, whose comments stoked the "intolerance" fire once again. The results were impressive, and I don't think he took an offence to the criticism it earned him from the BJP leaders like Subramanian Swamy (you wouldn't mind that Swamy boy anyway, most times his comments provide more entertainment than even the saas-bahu serials… Rahul Gandhi, a UK national, ha ha!). I wish you could invite somebody from the Moody's, too, since they sang the same tune as many others. Maybe now that the elections are over, they wouldn't mind changing their views about our nation, a high rating on the "tolerance" meter, perhaps?
I could suggest film directors, historians and scientists, but I am reminded of one name you should not miss out on, that of Shah Rukh Khan. He could have just said he wanted us to vote for you, the "intolerance" talk was quite unnecessary, since we all love him to death. And no, I do not agree with what the BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya said about Shah Rukh. Vijayvargiya is a "budbak", no wonder he didn't find a place on your invitation list, while many others like Arun Shourie, Shatrughan Sinha and LK Advani did. Reminds me, since you are already inviting Advani, you won't mind inviting Yashwant Sinha, Shanta Kumar and MM Joshi.
The last entry on your list should be Dalai Lama who recently fell out of favour with the central government. Oh, but how could I forget the tantric who hugged and kissed you! Frankly, me being a traditionalist, I wasn't quite happy to see that footage, but that's maybe how elections are won these days. I think Narendra Modi should immediately commission a search for a tantric since elections are due in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
Last and not the least, I want you to invite a few Pakistanis; Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri could be a good starting point. The Pakistanis celebrated your win in Bihar such as I could hear their crackers even in Chandigarh. Up went a rocket that screeched Narendra Modi and came down just as quickly, and up flew another rocket that cried Amit Shah and that was a big flop too, the ground spinner (or charkhi) they called Jitan Ram Manjhi was quite a non-starter, I hear, which wasn't a surprise. I wanted to write something else but forgot. Old age!
Anyhow, I send all my blessings and love.
My grandmother was sleeping when I heard her mutter, "Chhat, chhat"; and at first I thought she was referring to the terrace, then I realised what she meant and added it in the post-script:
PS: Wish you a very Happy Chhath Puja, Nitish beta!