Thursday, October 09, 2003

Three women and a bachelor

"A bachelor's life is a fine breakfast, a flat lunch, and miserable dinner."
—Sir Francis Bacon

Atal Bihari Vajpayee is a bachelor, and like all bachelors women are his main problem. Three in fact — Mayawati, Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee. These women are not married either and that makes Vajpayee's problem queer.

Jaya loves him, loves him not. She has a fine breakfast with the bachelor, and soon after the flat lunch she heads for a high tea with Mrs Gandhi and makes the bachelor's dinner miserable. At night, she puts his kicking and screaming friends in jail. By morning, she is back at the breakfast table. By early noon she is itching to arrest another Vajpayee friend. The lunch is flatter than the flattest. And just the thought of dinner miserable.

Mamata would love to sup with him. But she would also love to sip with Sonia. But the breakfast is with the bachelor. Problem is she likes her bread buttered on both sides. Vajpayee agrees but his friends say that's appeasement. Vajpayee tells them one time appeasement is OK even in the BJP. But they say "then butter ours too". There's isn't enough butter. Mamata hastens the breakfast. And quickly heads for Sonia's house. Butter late than never. She has deja butter there. She remembers she has had Sonia's butter. Once bitter, twice shy. So she is shy all evening. Vajpayee's dinner is miserable. So is hers. She comes back early morning for breakfast. Vajpayee offers her all the butter saying "use as you please". Others rise and say "One side. That's the rule." She returns the butter. She has the bread without butter. And everybody's counting the days: "How long can one have just bread? How long can she live without butter?"

This is the latest love story gone no-love-lost story. Vajpayee's party loves Ram. Only Ram Maya loves is Kanshi. But more often than not, Vajpayee and Maya finds themseleves together at the breakfast table. He gulps some cheeselings dipped in self-respect sauce while she munches on Manu-lings. Everybody in the world, including some guy called Lalji Tandon, dreams of a nice day together and breezy evening and cozy night. But soon after breakfast, she abuses Vajpayee's cook and badmouths his friends at the table. A fight ensues and Vajpayee has to intervene. She keeps silent for a while. Lunch is not just flat but unusually silent. In the evening, she calls a press conference and abuses his family. Vajpayee says she saddens him. And the dinner, my friend, let's not talk about it.

So why doesn't he quit mixing with these women when he knows they are dangerously fickle? Ask any bachelor. Or ask Helen Rowland who wrote this unforgettable line: A bachelor never quite gets over the idea that he is a thing of beauty and a boy forever.

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