Satire | Missed the Ayodhya bus?

‘Going to Kashi next week to invest in prime property. After all, money is also a religion’

Updated - February 10, 2024 04:50 pm IST

Published - February 08, 2024 05:25 pm IST

‘Today every Ganpat, Bhoopat and Sampath wants to buy land in Ayodhya,’ my neighbour said.

‘Today every Ganpat, Bhoopat and Sampath wants to buy land in Ayodhya,’ my neighbour said. | Photo Credit: Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar

Kattabomman doesn’t fall asleep unless we read to him. These days we are reading Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and he can’t get enough of the Oompa-Loompas. For some reason, the Oompa-Loompas give me the heebie-jeebies. So I told him I’d read him something different, a fantasy far more imaginative.

Chacha Choudhury?” he asked.

“No, the Interim Budget,” I said.

“Does it have Oompa-Loompas?”

“Absolutely,” I said. ‘Shall we start?”

He nodded, and I began reading.

“People are living better and earning better, with even greater aspirations for the future. Net Financial Assets of households increased from 52.8% of GDP in December 2019 to 65.5% of GDP in March 2023. The—”

“Wait a minute,” Wife said, looking up from her Margaret Atwood. “Net household assets increased? Are you kidding?”

“It’s not me, it’s our FM,” I said. “And she is right. I don’t like anyone contradicting her, and neither does she.”

This column is a satirical take on life and society.

“Tell me how our household assets have increased in the last 10 years,” she said.

“They have,” I said. “In 2014, I clearly remember our kitchen had only five spoons and seven forks. I could never find a spoon when I needed one. Today, we have 13 spoons and 14 forks. That’s like 270% growth if you ask me.”

“Papa, where are the Oompa-Loompas?”

“Just getting to them,” I said. “If only your mother would stop interrupting.”

“Go on,” she said. ‘I won’t interrupt.”

“The Indian economy,” I resumed, “is better placed than ever. Average real income of the people has increased by 50%.”

“So your income increased by 50% and you never told me?” Wife lowered her book again. “Where is all the money?”

“Fine,” I said. “I accept my income has not increased by 50%. But I won’t blame the economy for that.”

“We are talking about average increases in income,” she said, “the AVERAGE!”

“Maybe I am below average,” I said. “I was below average in school also.”

“If you don’t invest smartly, you will always be below average,” said a voice that sounded like my mother’s. I turned around, and sure enough, it was my mother at the doorway.

“What are you doing here?”

“My heater is not working. The room is too cold.”

“Take this one here,” I said. “And what do you mean ‘invest smartly’? Since when did you become a personal finance expert?”

“I told you 10 years ago, when Modiji won election. I said ‘Buy a plot in Ayodhya’. Did you listen? Sonna petchchi kettiya?

“Really, Amma?” Wife asked. “You told him that in 2014?”

“Ask your husband,” Amma said. “You know what he said to me? He said one should not mix religion with personal finance.”

“Haaww,” Wife said, one hand over her mouth, exactly like that emoji.

“Now all those fellows who mixed religion with personal finance are laughing their way to the bank,” Amma went on, “While you are sitting here crying that you are below average.”

Amma’s advice was not the only time fortune knocked on my door. Some years ago, a couple of our RWA uncles, Mishraji and Vermaji, had asked me if I’d like to join them on a trip to Ayodhya. I didn’t show much interest, thinking it was a pilgrimage tour. Only later did I learn they had gone to buy property.

“It was a religious pilgrimage only,” Mishraji insisted, when I asked him about it last week. “Money is also a religion, no?”

Mishraji proudly informed me that a piece of land he had purchased in February 2017 for ₹15 lakh was now worth ₹3.5 crore.

“You are joking,” I said. Then he showed me a screenshot of the sale deed, and all my hair fell off in envy.

“If I go to Ayodhya tomorrow,” I said, “will I find anything affordable to invest, or is it too late?’

“Prices have shot up by 900% in the last few months,” said Vermaji, who owns a plot right next to Amitabh Bachchan’s in a 7-star enclave that’s under development.

“Especially after consecration, prices have gone up like shooting stars,” Mishraji said.

“Sir, shooting stars generally go down,” I pointed out, but he didn’t hear me.

“We were the first,” Mishraji went on, “But today every Ganpat, Bhoopat and Sampath wants to buy land in Ayodhya.”

“Have I missed the Ayodhya bus then?”

“Don’t worry,” Mishraji said. “If one bus goes, another one comes.”

‘Forget Ayodhya,” Vermaji said.

“What do you mean?”

“We are going to Kashi next week to offer prayers,” Mishraji said. “Like to join us?”

“Bet your Oompa-Loompas I do!”

The author of this satire, is Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

sampath.g@thehindu.co.in

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