Chidu came out of the back door of the Parliament after having presented the budget to avoid the media that was waiting for him at the Main Gate.
And there he ran into his bête noire Amma.
“I knew it,” said Amma. “You will try to pull a fast one after presenting a budget that was a damp squib. And why have you put that tax on iron ore mines?”
“Eh, eh, eh!” replied Chidu, trying to avoid Amma’s question. “I was just trying to avoid the media you know.”
“What man,” said Amma. “You think I am a village belle from Chidambaram. I was a Bangalore girl, till filums brought me to Madras. ”
“I know Amma,” said Chidu. “I know.”
“Amma?” screamed Amma. “How can you call me Amma?”
“Oh! Why? What else do I call you Amma?”
“Again Amma? Only those who fall on my feet are allowed to call me Amma.”
“Really?” asked Chiddu.
“Yes. And we all know whose feet all you Congressmen fall on!”
“Shh. Shh. Don’t be so loud. She might hear it,” pleaded Chidu.
“How? I don’t see her anywhere,” said Amma.
“Arre, she is everywhere.”
“So am I.”
“Are you?” came a voice from behind Amma.
“I told you,” screamed Chidu.
“So Chidu, what is that you were saying?” asked Madam, the chief of the Con-Regress party, who had suddenly appeared from nowhere.
“What will he say?” confronted Amma. “I was the one doing all the talking.”
“Oh really?” asked Madam, trying to sound slightly sophisticated.
“Yes,” replied Amma.
“Never mind,” said Madam, leading Chidu away by hand, wanting to talk to him in private.
Once they were at a sufficient distance from Amma they started talking again.
“So what happened to the food thing?” asked Madam.
“Oh, yes. We are on for the Chicken Chettinad on Sunday,” explained Chidu. “I have specially called cooks all the way from Coimbatore to cook for you.”
“Ishhhhhh,” screamed Madam. “I didn’t mean the Sunday dinner. What I was referring to was the food bill.”
“Madam. It’s my treat on Sunday. Why will I give you a bill for it?”
“Okay. Now stop cracking your Pjs, Chidu.”
“He he, you know they are my weakness Madam,” said Chidu. “Did you listen to the one Pj that I even used in the budget.”
“That only 42,800 people in India have taxable income of greater than Rs 1 crore a year.”
“Yes, yes. I heard that.”
“There was another one,” said Chidu, wanting to carry on with his poor jokes.
“Okay. That’s enough. Get to the point Chidu,” Madam screamed again. “Else I will get bada babu back from the Rashtrapatni Bhavan and appoint him in your place.”
“Madam, we don’t have the money for the food bill,” Chidu explained frankly.
“What do you mean you don’t have money?” asked Madam. “Where do all the taxes go?”
“Taxes?” asked Chidu. “Didn’t you hear my speech Madam?”
“Speech,” said Madam. “Actually to tell you the truth I was listening to my iPod.”
“Really?” asked Chidu. “I was wondering why were your earphones so different. These government ones don’t look so good on you.”
“Yeah, every year, listening to these two hour speeches is so difficult. I have been listening to them for ten years now and have got thoroughly bored,” confessed Madam.
“Which song were you listening to Madam?” asked Chidu.
“You know my favourite one,” said Madam.
“Ah that old song,” said Chidu and started crooning the number. “Baaki jo bachcha mehangai maar gayi…”
“Okay, okay. Don’t kill the tune with that nasal tone of yours,” pleaded Madam. “I would rather have Himesh singing it.”
“You know madam I also have a confession to make,” said Chidu.
“What? What?” Madam asked excitedly.
“Well I have the budget speeches of bada babu recorded on CDs.”
“On nights I don’t get sleep I put them on.”
“I fall asleep as soon as bada babu starts speaking in Bongish.”
“Yeah. And you know Madam…”
“Okay. Enough of that. Let me get back to the point. What happened to the Right to Food bill?” asked Madam, suddenly turning serious again. “Why was it missing from your budget speech?”
“Madam. As I said in my speech the tax collections have been falling.”
“So in 2011-12, the tax GDP ratio was 5.5 percent for direct taxes. For indirect taxes it was at 4.4 percent. This is very low when we compare ourselves with other large developing countries.”
“Hmmm,” said Madam.
“And that means that we do not have enough money for the Right to Food bill.”
“Well. I don’t know how you do it. But you have to somehow do it,” said Madam. “Raul ka gum ab mujhse dekha nahi jaata.”
“Yes madam I know,” said Chidu. “Ek Ma ka dard main samajh sakta hoon.”
“So do something then!”
“What madam?” asked Chidu. “There is really no money!”
“Well what is money?”
“It is just a piece of paper,” said Madam.
“So print it.”
“Print it?” asked Chidu. “But that will lead to more inflation madam.”
“I thought you knew my favourite song,” replied Madam. “I heard you singing it sometime back.”
“You do it. Or I will get bada babu back and get him to do it.”
“I’ll do it madam.”
“Good,” said Madam. “Oh and can I have those CDs of bada babu making his budget speeches. I am turning into an insomniac these days getting worried about Raul. He refuses to get married also.”
“Yes Madam time he got married,” said Chidu. “Who will rule us after him otherwise? The show must go on.”
“Oh, I am not worried about that. Priya and Bob’s sons will take care of that.”
“Yes. Yes. They are also there. I will give you the CDs on Saturday.”
“Okay,” said Madam. “See you on Sunday then.” “Close call that was,” Chidu told himself, as soon as Madam left.
“Don’t worry. Don’t worry,” said Amma, suddenly appearing from nowhere. “If anything happens you can always join my party.”
“And even mine,” said Didi, also appearing out of nowhere. “What Madam can do I can do better!”
“Oh, I am really having a nightmare,” said Chidu, rushing out of the Parliament in his white Ambassador.
As soon as the car was out of the vicinity of Parliament he asked his driver to put on the FM.
“Aur bhaiyyon aur behno,” went the anchor, imitating the voice of the great Ameen Sayani, like they all do. “Sunte hai ye naya gaana!”
“Tu bhi dramebaaz, main bhi dramebaaz, saale dramebaaz sab yahan!” went the song.
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)