(Published in I-Witness, The New Indian Express, dated 26 December 2010, as 'Finally, a Chance to Wear my Black')
She stirred a hornet's nest in the Indian political circle, and deserves to be the Express Woman of the Year. Accepting our award, Niira Radia clears the air on several misguided perceptions that so many have about her.
After everything I’ve been through, it’s only fair that I be given the Woman of the Year award. It means that much more to me coming from The New Indian Express because (a) they don’t depend on me for their salaries (b) I don’t exchange “miaow”s on the phone with anyone from here.
I do think they could give me more credit, of course, for representing three business empires that have interests in telecom. But then again, maybe I’m a little self-obsessed. There are three ‘I’s in Niira Radia, you know!
More than the award, though, I’m grateful for the opportunity to clear the air over several misguided perceptions of me that my words may have caused. Uh, wait, that didn’t come out...anyway. Come on, babu, everyone deserves a chance to defend oneself in a country that’s supposedly run by a man who wants to be the wife of a Roman emperor who was foolish enough to get killed by his best friend! So, here are my defences:
I am not happy when boys get into accidents: Yes, and I don’t need my ‘darling’ to chide me for it! When I said ‘very good’ about the son of a client’s brother getting into a car accident, I followed it up a “baar baar, they are only after us!” Didn’t the schoolgirlish note in my voice carry all the innocence of a petulant child? I’m not nasty, I’m just dealing with a maturity challenge!
I was the one stringing along the journalists: Nahin, so absurd, all these people have been getting column space to claim they were stringing me along. Now, do I need to explain how important it is for journalists who are pally with politicians to depend on me to get to my clients? I could simply withhold the interviews and give them to journalists who can’t influence political decisions, you know! Jeez, a certain journalist was right, there’s a lot of misogyny here!
You can never say Tata to uprightness: Oh come on, you know I meant ‘goodbye’. Well, building hospitals is charity work, ya. My clients never bribe anyone. That’s why the Leader’s nephew had to go. And that Jaguar that was going to be delivered to me on Saturday was not a gift! I never really got to sink my claws into it.
My accent is NOT fake! Oh, look me up on Wikipedia. No, wait, I took down that page. But whatever, I’ve lived in Londn lawng enaaahf faw me to tawk like thihs! And than I moowed to Dellee, and opho, I travell constuntly to Bombey, so obviously, yaar, I will say ‘judgemunt’ in one conversation, and ‘houme’ and ‘agou’ and ‘ghawsh’ in another. Deah me, Ratty just brings out the Londn in me, especially when he’s stuck at an airport, and not in his own plane!
I’m NOT racist...or regionalist: Wait a minute, what does ‘parochial’ mean? Look, I do admit dark people can blush, all right? And so what if I say someone is a very ‘Indian English’ speaking gentleman? I don’t stand judgemunt on anyone, ya...I mysulf am a very ‘Indian English’ speaking laydie. Well, except with Ratty, but he doesn’t quite understahnd othuh-wise, you knouw. And it’s not true that I believe an NGO has to be run by a sardar or an alumnus of JNU to stick to its business. Background is important. Wait, no, background is important. Background is important. Huh? No, this was an email forward. Sorry.
In India toh, everyone has a title, not a name: You might think this is a random rant, but do you know how difficult it is for a lobbyist to have to deal with it? First there are ‘The Brothers’. And then there are all these South Indians with unpronounceable names. What’s with the Z-H, anyway? And then there’s The Artist Currently Known as The Leader – yeah, apparently, that’s what his title means in Tamil – complete with his unpronounceable symbol, udaya whatever. He and his rising sons and his mistress’ daughter! And all the men who speak English-English get so bored talking to me, ya! All they say is ‘hmm’...well, ‘miaow’ too.
Khair, I’m grateful to this paper because I finally get to wear my one Roberto Cavalli black gown to the award ceremony. You know, I got so desperate I held a funeral when my phone went dead. But no one came home, so the gown was totully wastud.
(As imagined by Nandini Krishnan)