Peeping Shankar | The slow transition from AAP-ology to Apology

P Shankar, IB reveals the inside story of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s recent spate of apologies and how at the end of the day it was only a dream come true

I am sure you will agree with me that it would be nothing short of preposterous to even suggest that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has of late been having a hectic night life. In fact, even openly alluding to the fact that he does, runs the risk of the State Assembly passing a resolution against the guilty person. But, as Lord Byron noted in his nineteenth century poem Don Juan, “`Tis strange-but true; for truth is always strange; Stranger than fiction…” So, it is with Kejriwal – if one were to be honest then it would not be inaccurate to say that in recent months he has been secretly venturing out rather late at night.

Now, don’t get me wrong, by that I don’t mean he goes clubbing. Neither is he known among the rave party crowd as DJ Muffler who spins a mean mix, or among ageing rockers as the dude who plays the guitar on `Blues for Anna’ (Hazare). But, that aside, going by our log book, on most week nights he did religiously slink away from home at 2.30 am to be back back two hours later much before the break of dawn.

No one, not even his trusted deputy CM, Manish Sisodia, accompanied Kejriwal on his nocturnal adventure which he undertook on a rundown scooter disguised as an off-duty police constable. One must also add here that he religiously followed this rather gruelling schedule for the last four months, which perhaps explains the weary, haggard, harassed and sleep deprived look that he sports on most days.

This hitherto unknown ‘dark’ side of Kejriwal came to light thanks to routine surveillance. I recall it was exactly six months ago when the IB was asked to keep a watch on the Delhi CM’s residence (Bungalow No 6, Flag Staff Road, Civil Lines, Delhi). No one was keen on the assignment. But one of my juniors (Agent X) volunteered. I warned him that he must be prepared for some drudgery since nothing exciting ever happens in the CM’s life except his spats with the Lt Governor, unfriendly bureaucrats and his long-drawn meetings with lawyers and cabinet colleagues. But he insisted on undertaking the task since he had read somewhere that engaging with boredom increases one’s life span.

“I know all that Einsteinian drivel,” I said dismissively, “An hour whizzes past in a few minutes if you’re with friends but time literally crawls if you are whistling in the dark. That, incidentally, is what you will be doing outside Kejriwal’s residence since you have opted for night watch.” With that I wished him well and said he could always touch me for a new assignment if he found he had sufficiently extended his life span.

Initially, the reports that Agent X filed did not merit any more attention than regular updates on the dietary habits of JNU students. And then, one morning, a file marked ‘Top Secret’ landed on my table with the juicy subject head: “The Nightly Meanderings of Shri Arvind Kejriwal.” Agent X had scored a winner by not only tabulating the Delhi Chief Minister’s late-night “Exit” and early morning “Re-Entry” timings but also his secret rendezvous in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar with a quaint old gent called Merry Jung whose name plate proclaimed he was an “expert counsellor, a pyscho plus therapist strongly recommended as a friend, philosopher and guide for the yung and easily freudened.”

(Agent X thoughtfully provided a convoluted explanation for the rather peculiar name plate. According to him, Merry Jung was derived from the 1985 Subhash Ghai hit Meri Jung starring Anil Kapoor and Meenakshi Sheshadri. Jung was also a reference to Carl Gustav Jung (pronounced Yung) the renowned Swiss psychiatrist/psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. And “Yung and easily freudened” was a clever wordplay used by James Joyce in Finnegan’s Wake to mean young and easily frightened while punning at the same time on the names of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud).

I read through the file and immediately summoned Agent X. “This is explosive stuff. But in your enthusiasm to explain the name plate you have missed the core point – what is it that drives the Delhi Chief Minister to this counsellor at odd hours. Was he secretly meeting some student leaders or does he actually require counselling? Whatever the reason, the Prime Minister’s Office will be very keen to know.”

He came earlier this month with photo copies of pages from Merry Jung’s case diaries pertaining to his patient – “Arvind Kejriwal (AK), Age 49, (un)Civil Lines, Delhi.” This was a great catch that X had managed to net – in fact, pure gold. I profusely congratulated him for his effort and promised him a promotion.

Then I went through Merry Jung’s notes scribbled in long hand. They were truly a revelation – particularly in the context of the spate of recent public apologies made by the Delhi CM. Allow me, to put some excerpts on record:

November 8, 2017: Subject visibly disturbed. Says of late he has been dreaming of saying sorry. There are several things he has already apologised for in his dream state – his spat with Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan; the misunderstanding with Anna Hazare. The unpleasant things he has said about former Lt Governor Najeeb Jung (no relative of Carl!) and a host of other people. Why, the previous night he woke up saying sorry for the poverty in the world, racial discrimination, the caste divide, air and water pollution, obesity, disease, decay and unemployment. He even felt the urge to apologise for the delay in changing the fused bulbs on Delhi’s Africa Avenue. It’s often said that it’s hard to say sorry but it apparently comes easily to AK once he closes his eyes.

December 13, 2017: I suggest AK comes for his sessions once a week. But he insists he likes to unburden himself and would rather meet me every night. He says he also enjoys his new role as a patient since it does not test his patience! I like his sense of humour if only he would dream something better. I asked him if he ever had any snake or fish dreams. That would open up possibilities of enlightened analysis but he said he only dreamt of saying sorry and then profusely apologised for not having had a better dream/nightmare. Finally, I had to say sorry to calm him….

January 24, 2018: AK says he dreamt about saying sorry to Union Minister of Transport, Shipping and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, who as a gesture of appreciation regaled him by singing old Bollywood songs – all sad ones at that. Apparently, the Delhi CM was very touched by the rendering of Manna Dey’s Zindagii kaisii hai pahelii haai/kabhii yeh hasaaye/kabhii yeh rulaaye (Life is a riddle/ sometimes it makes us laugh/ sometimes cry). He said he also dreamt of apologising to Arun Jaitley who childishly retorted that he was “not a lorry to carry the sorry.”

February 2, 2018: AK was rather agitated and wished to know if there is anything wrong with the idea of apologising. I said it was perfectly kosher for top politicians and world leaders to utter the `S’ word to whitewash past misdeeds. Some years ago, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair profusely regretted the shameful slave trade that the British thrived on. Bill Clinton regretted the world’s inaction during the genocide in Rwanda and for his “inappropriate” relationship with a woman intern in the White House. Pope John Paul II rendered apologies on behalf of the Church for everything from oppression of women to the Inquisition and the persecution of Galileo. Closer home, Manmohan Singh said sorry for Operation Bluestar and didn’t LK Advani shed a tear and a half for the Babri Masjid demolition? In fact, I reminded AK about what Oscar Wilde had famously said about saying sorry: “When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has the right to blame us."

February 22, 2018: AK says he has come to terms with saying sorry but he finds it difficult to spell the word `apologise.’ Try as he might, it always comes out as aap-ologise. I told him to write appropriate on a piece of paper and he spelt it as aap-propriate; appreciate as aap-preciate; apostle as aap-ostle and apprentice as aap-prentice. I finally came to the conclusion that he suffered from a deep-rooted AAP obsession which made him and many of his party people almost subconsciously prefix an additional `a’ in words that begin with the alphabets `ap.’ I assured him that it would take a few days for him to get over it but it was not impossible.

March 2, 2018: Kejri is cured. He has finally overcome his aap handicap. The therapy sessions are concluded.

After having gone through it carefully, I sent pages from the Merry Jung case diaries and the reports filed by Agent X to the PMO. An official rung up and complimented us for our work. He said the jury was still out on whether to share some of the excerpts with friends in the media. Meanwhile, a video-CD of Meri Jung had been procured and would be studied carefully for further clues. I wished him well.

Phew! What a life….

(As imagined by Ajith Pillai)

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