A curtain raiser

Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave, Jayaprakash Narayan, Valmiki, Thirumangai Alwar, Nakkeeran (original), Leander paes, Visvanathan Anand and Che Guera.

The above is the list of the nine (coincidentally) eminent men from various points of history who were held hostage in a time capsule at a well known auditorium yesterday.

These men were also held to ransom and their heads were sent rolling frequently by a battery of speakers, who kept drawing parallels between the above mentioned gentlemen and the not-so-gentle Veerappan and the only emissary Gopal. While the latter was the apparent hero of the function, the former also walked away with quite a few honours albeit in absentia.

When we were tipped off about the above impending event through life size posters of the emissary all over the city, we immediately despatched one of our senior journalists, to the venue. Of course, he was unable to rescue the hostages for two reasons; one he was not a trained negotiator unlike his peers in the profession and two, the hostages were irretrievably imprisoned amidst a band of powerful drum-beaters, well guarded by sycophants from all walks of life and buried several fathoms deep into a maze of unabashed eulogies and half baked analogies.

But our man did manage to salvage his own head, and returned to file the story which appears on page 3 of today’s issue. Readers must forgive us if the report appears to be a little offbeat, but they must understand that the poor soul had to sit through nearly four-and-a-half hours of non-stop nonsense (I mean, the negotiations), and ordeal which only a few journalists can put up with.

But before we move on to page 3 for the Mother of all felicitations, here are a few samples of the UNQUOTABLE QUOTES mouthed by a few eminents at the function:

Even though Veerappan has killed over 140 people , he is a true hero and killed only in self defence. He is a lion of the jungle

—Union Minister S.R.Balasubramaniam

Veerappan can be compared to Valmiki or Thirumangai Alwar. It is not proper to address him in the singular. He should be given respect.

 —PMK leader Ramadoss

 There is no relationship between Veerappan and Gopal other than the similarity of their moustaches.

—Ramakrishnan of CPI(M)

I myself was a convict once and I know the travails of living in a jungle.

—Gopu of CPI

Not all those who sport moustache are heroes; only Gopal is a hundred percent hero.

—Nanjil Manoharan, TN Minister.

Everyone must have expected my mother to attend this function; But, I, the city father has come instead.

—Mayor Stalin.

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Jawahar T R