E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I was resting in the Cheluvamba Park after completing my rounds when I met my friend, the Ace Political Expert (APE) just completing his sprint-cum-walk.
As we sat facing the country’s first radio station named Akashvani—so christened by Prof M.V. Gopalaswamy in 1935—I allowed APE to catch his breath and then asked him a question that was bugging me.
“Tell me APE-raayare, when does a politician start sobbing in public?”
APE considered the question from all aspects just as Christiano Ronaldo would, before making an incisive pass in the penalty area.
“It is a rather difficult and sensitive question, Ramu,” he said. “Let me answer by searching for situations when a politician may not cry in public. If a dear friend or a close family member dies, most people cry, but they cry in private. Sometimes, they hug the surviving members of the family etc. Tears are very precious. They are dropped in heart-felt situations that reflect deep loss and gut-wrenching pain. It is not meant for public exhibition.”
“I see,” was all I could muster.
“News of a sudden unbelievable death or a near or dear one, or a major disaster can evoke a very spontaneous response. The well can burst. Since the news comes like a bolt from the blue, the response is immediate it and can happen in public or private. But such situations are very rare and are non-repetitive.”
“That’s interesting, too,” I said.
“Sometimes it could be tears of happiness—‘ananda bhaspa’—when you hear of great, unexpected news such as winning a lottery or your government being saved from the clutches of the mining lobby. These too can spurt a lachrymose reaction, but again it is not sobbing that takes place in public.”
“Can it happen after finishing a long and arduous exam, or the completion of a two-year period of rule or misrule? You ar so relieved that…. ”
“It is possible, especially when you least expect it. Sometimes you expect to fail in a paper and through divine grace, a grace marks of 5 takes you to the safer side. Or, you expect your government to fall after your own colleagues want you to go and suddenly the situation gets reversed and you are asked to continue. A convict saved from the gallows at the last minute may cry in public out of relief. But, mind you, a repeat of the show is very rare.”
“What do you mean?”
“Charlie Chaplin with his acting skills made us laugh and cry, sometimes simultaneously. But even the best of actors like the tragedy king, Dilip Kumar, or our own Raj Kumar could never do an encore on screen or in public. Not in the same role. It calls for a special talent. More so, when nobody really knows the reason.”
“Why is sobbing in public more and more common, these days?” I asked in all innocence.
“I wouldn’t know. In 1952 Richard Nixon, long before he became President of the United States, was accused of tainted wealth. He came on TV and cried. He was even accused of accepting a dog as a gift from one of his supporters in Texas. Nixon, finally said, ‘Regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it’. His dog, Checkers, in fact won the day for him and his speech was called the Checkers speech. Nixon came back as President in 1968 but had to leave office in ignominy after his role in Watergate scandal when he faced imminent impeachment.”
“So there is some history to showing emotions in public?”
APE summed it up nicely as we got up.
“Yes, but Nixon is certainly not a good example for politicians of any hue or any country to emulate. But what I am worried he is. Karnataka is becoming home of crybabies with politicians crying in front of, or for, public,”’ said APE as we got up.
File photograph: Karnataka Photo News