I was worried.
Because I noticed that of late, what once used to shock and thrill, to titillate and bring on paroxysms of outraged ecstasy now barely evokes a half-hearted, bored twitch. That when that Nithyanada video broke the news, we watched (normally at least 40 times but now barely once), yawned and went back to checking if there was a new flavour in ear wax while wearily thinking,
“Oh puhleez, Nitzy. Your video may be beta quality, but ND Tiwari already beat you to this. At age 85. And with three women.”
So, thank God for Behenji and the Maha Mala Mela.
While the sight of what looked like a pink, velcro Loch Ness monster undulating around Behenji and her clutch of fawning party men was riveting enough, what had me glued to the telly was trying to figure out what the Maha Mala was made out of. (And for once, I was grateful to the news channels for looping 3.78 seconds of footage 831 times.) Roses, my mum declared grandly – gulab for Gulabo, hai na? Rubbish, I thought, surely Behenji was capable of coming up with something less ho-hum than a few hundred thousand roses even if they looked as if they had been genetically engineered to sport the correct shade of Maya-pink...
Now, there are many amongst us who are outraged by those 1000-rupee notes, damning it as a brazen, blatantly vulgar display of whatever-it-is that Maha Malas of 1000-rupee notes are supposed to be. But they judge Hamari Pyari Behenji too harshly – you see, the only reason the notes scored over orchids or tulips or for that matter chameli ke phool was because they were the only ones that came closest to that Maya-pink…
But why the Maha Mala? (Which, according to most estimates, is worth more than 5 crores, but according to Digvijay Singh of the Congress, it’s upwards 22 crores.) Wouldn’t a modest knee-length garland, punctuated by diamond studded blue mini elephants have done the trick?
Well, lemme explain. As we all know so well, Hamari Pyari Behenji’s life’s mission is to turn Uttar Pradesh into the Utter Paradise that it was always meant to be. And towards that end, she has worked tirelessly erecting statues, building memorials, museums and parks; sparing no expense and even regularly forgoing her weekly quota of diamonds.
Naturally, unable to stomach her success, her jealous detractors have been weaving a malicious fabric of nasty lies about her and her beloved Uttar Pradesh.
That for the vast majority of its people, life in one of India’s most backward states is so dismal and hopeless that along with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh has the highest rate of people migrating out of the state. (At least one in every three persons in Uttar Pradesh is below the poverty line.) That on almost every parameter on economic and human development – education, communication, health, power, roads - Uttar Pradesh scores among the lowest. That with a woman as a Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh has one of the lowest female to male ratio, one of the highest incidence of infant mortality and maternal deaths (twice the national average). If you are born a girl in Uttar Pradesh, you are five times less likely to reach your fifth birthday than if you were born in Kerala. And if you somehow manage to survive that long, you will still live 20 years less.
Now tell me.
Would the CM of such a state nonchalantly wrap a 5-crore - oh, alright, Diggi Raja, a 22-crore Maha Mala around herself?
Of course not.
And would the CM of such a state, where the average wallah’s monthly income doesn’t amount to 2 of the notes in the Maha Mala, tot up a net worth estimated at anywhere between 60-70 crores (not counting the Maha Mala but counting 72 properties and 54 bank accounts)?
And would the CM of such a state where every second child between the age of 1-5 years is malnourished, own a silver dinner set weighing 18.5 kgs and perhaps even dine off it?
I rest my case.
And that leaves only one other matter – a reminder, actually to the chappies designing currency notes at the RBI. I hope you fellas will have a new note ready for Behenji’s next Jan Kalyan Divas…er, I mean birthday.
Naturally, it will have to be upwards of a thousand rupees.
More importantly, it will have to be pink.