Satire | Do you want a Bharat Ratna or a Rajya Sabha seat?

‘I have a better option that involves no hard work, has zero risk, but brings truckloads of money’

Updated - February 23, 2024 01:37 pm IST

Published - February 22, 2024 02:48 pm IST

‘Religion-spirituality is the future’.

‘Religion-spirituality is the future’. | Photo Credit: Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar

Did you get any message?” The query was from a colleague, who I shall call X. I am used to such messages from him in the first week of the month. He would start checking with others — texting me first —if they’ve got the ‘salary credited’ message from the bank. Even a slight delay would set him off.

I never understood why he cared so much. After all, his bank account was just a transit point —like Pathankot or Kathgodam — where the money took a shower and changed into taxes before resuming the journey to its final destination in the Himalayan expanses of the Department of Revenue.

“Not yet,” I replied. “Expect it to come anytime now.”

X responded with three big ROFL emojis.

“What’s so funny?” I texted back.

“You,” he said. But I hadn’t made a joke. I then scrolled back and saw his earlier message — a link to a piece about how it was “raining Bharat Ratnas”. Only then did it dawn on me he was asking if I had received any intimation about a Bharat Ratna — for me. I was offended.

I confronted him at work the next day. “You don’t think I deserve a Bharat Ratna?”

“I never said that,” he said.

“You were implying I’ll also get a Bharat Ratna because it’s election year and apparently everyone is getting it. You don’t think I deserve it purely on merit?”

This column is a satirical take on life and society.

“But why do you want a Bharat Ratna?” said Y, another colleague, who had been quietly eavesdropping from her cubicle. “It has no monetary component.”

“It doesn’t? I distinctly remember my CA telling me it’s tax-free.”

“Duh,” Y said. “It’s tax-free because it’s cash-free.”

“Nobel is better,” X said. “Good money, 100% tax-free.”

“Nobel is too tough,” I said. “And I have no contacts in the Nobel Committee.”

“I have a better idea,” Y said. “You are a senior journalist. Why don’t you try for a Rajya Sabja seat — it has more vacancies than the Bharat Ratna, gives more social status than any award, also has cash benefits in the form of a fat salary.”

It was a great idea, no doubt. The salary and perks would not only take care of all my existing loans but also provide a nice down-payment for a new, bigger loan to invest in property along the Lucknow-Gorakhpur highway.

I brought it up with Wife the same evening. “How would you like it if I got nominated to the Rajya Sabha?”

She looked at me quizzically before answering. “What happened to your Bharat Ratna plans?”

“I can get Bharat Ratna later also,” I said. “Even posthumously I have chance. But only living beings can get Rajya Sabha nomination. What do you think?”

“I’ll tell you what I think,” my mother butted in. “First show that you can at least get a promotion. Then you can talk about getting a Rajya Sabha nomination.”

“Did anyone ask you for your opinion?” I said. “Do you know how many journalists have got Rajya Sabha seats? Had I joined AAP when everyone was telling me to, I would be in the Rajya Sabha already. It’s not that difficult.”

“What’s this fascination you journalists have for a Rajya Sabha seat?” Amma said. “Is it like media waalon ka mid-life crisis?”

“Seriously,” Wife said. “Being an MP is also no longer what it used to be. You can be disqualified or suspended any time, you don’t get time to speak, you can’t ask questions. I went to a super-strict convent school and we had more freedom there.”

“Thirty years of tracking news can leave you feeling jaded and empty,” I said. “What’s the harm in seeking some excitement in life in the form of new challenges, like serving the country in Parliament?”

“Humph!” Amma snorted. “Challenge-avathu mannangatti-yavadhu. If you want challenge so badly, why don’t you take up something like an ultra-marathon? Or swim from Lakshwadeep to Maldives like that Nyad woman you were watching on Netflix?”

“Mountaineering is another option,” Wife said. “So many journalists have sat in the Rajya Sabha. But not one has ever sat on Mt. Everest. Think — you could be the first!”

“Not for me,” I said. “I’m only interested in options that involve no hard work, carry zero risk, but bring truckloads of money.”

“Then you’ve only one option,” Amma said. “Become Sri Sri Sampathananda.”

I mentioned this to X, and he loved the idea. “Religion-spirituality is the future,” he said. “Make that transition and people with a Nobel, Bharat Ratna, and Rajya Sabha seat will stand in line for a selfie with you.”

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

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