By Sandeep Sahu*
In Bharatvarsha, we at least have a clear choice between ‘Pappu’ and ‘Feku’. But in the land that was for long periods of history known as ‘Kalinga’, one does not have that luxury. In the absence of anybody in the opposite camp who can lay claim to the title of ‘Feku’, Pappu also doubles up as Feku here. The reasoning: if you don’t fall for the charms of Pappu, you will certainly fall for the guiles of Feku.
A major part of Pappu’s charm comes from his blissful ignorance of the language spoken in the land. [After all, what’s the point in being a Pappu if one has to speak the same language that others speak?] The people just love him for his ignorance, more so when he makes mincemeat of the language in an effort to prove that he is making an effort. His diehard fans actually dread the prospect of Pappu speaking the language as others do – without the aid of a text scripted in Roman!
For those still unimpressed, there is another solid reason to plump for him: the fact that he is not bitten by the bug called ‘marriage’. There is a consensus that he has survived – and indeed flourished – longer than any of his predecessors precisely because none of the latter managed to avoid getting bitten by this deadly bug that can cause myriad ailments like nepotism and dynasticism. [Mercifully though, Pappu’s father was bitten by the bug. Otherwise, there would have been no Pappu in the first place!]
Another attribute that endears Pappu to the people of Kalinga is the fact that he has steadfastly refused to stay in the place (or is it palace?) meant for him. While in Indraprastha, he chose to stay with friends in the city rather than the house that his father built. After relocating to Sisupalgarh, however, he opted to stay in the house that his father built in his name rather than the palace that the kingdom built for him, thereby leaving no room for his father – long dead and buried – to grumble in his grave!
Pappu’s sartorial choices have been another major reason for his appeal. Not for him the formality of a suit, the banality of a T-shirt and jeans or even the profanity of a coloured kurta. Summer or winter, he would wear nothing other than a spotless white kurta, pyjama. The only accessory he would allow himself is a pair of Kolhapuri and a shawl in winter.
Pappu loves his bada peg (and his fag) and the people love him all the more for it. He comes as such a refreshing change from his herb eating or paan chewing predecessors. In yet another refreshing change from his predecessors, Pappu excels in the art of killing his opponents with a smile. His victims can never fathom what hit them, forget having a prior inkling about it. Like the proverbial feeding of the goat before its sacrifice, he would ask the would-be-victim, the dagger neatly tucked behind, for a cup of coffee before the dagger comes down in one fell sweep. His victims never survive. One after the other, he has pounced on each one of those who brought him to Kalinga from Indraprastha and banished them into oblivion, with his subjects cheering all the way through.
But somewhere down the line, Pappu suddenly realised that merely being Pappu is not enough. One has to acquire the characteristics of a Feku for long term survival in the game. The realisation led Pappu to unleash an elaborate charade of selling dreams. The enormous stock of wealth beneath the land in his kingdom certainly came in handy as he went about rolling out the red carpet for traders from all over the world. Soon, Kalinga, the unenviable land known for all that is wrong in mankind – hunger, malnutrition, child sale – became the envy of others as it emerged the most favoured destination for traders from outside. Pappu was hailed as the No 1 in Bharatvarsha. [Knowing those who have made an empire out of ‘Making Sense of India’ certainly helped.] But cynics, being cynics, pointed out that all the marquee traders walked the red carpet, gleefully accepted the red roses and then went back never to come again.
Midway through his reign, Pappu realised that the ‘poor’ tag for his land did not quite go well with the No 1 trade destination hype. So, he asked his courtiers to produce figures to prove that his benevolent rule had brought poverty in the land down from three-fifths of the population to just one third. But as soon as he realised that a drop in the number of poor entails a corresponding fall in the dole for his kingdom, he changed tack and claimed that while poverty may have come down, the number of poor has not! His kingdom, therefore, needs a ‘special’ dole that is bigger than the ‘normal’ dole.
Our beloved Pappu turned Feku wears his honesty on the sleeves of his spotless white kurta. But since some mischief mongers are determined to tar it with black and mar his reputation in the process, he has decided to cover his kurta with Teflon. As a result, it shines ever so white, even as there is a veritable loot going on all around him.
Pappu or Feku. Take your pick. You do have a choice after all. But the only problem is: either way, you would end up with the same person.
[* Disclaimer: The characters in this piece are completely fictitious and bear no resemblance whatsoever to any person living or dead – Author]
* Sandeep Sahu is the Executive Editor, odishasuntimes.com