I normally avoid television news, to preserve what little is left of my sanity. Internet headlines are enough to paint the grim picture for me. But, in these Corona days, getting the latest news is important, so I began to endure the news channels.
Last night, a popular channel announced an exclusive special report on Maulana Saad’s whereabouts.
The title was, “Where is the Maulana?”
Curious, I sat down to watch.
Into a studio with a wonderful set and disco lighting, walked a young man with the body-language of a WWE wrestler, except that his size was a third of those guys. Forget the build and the biceps, I thought, maybe his brain is a bit bigger than theirs.
Such was his aggression, that he seemed ready to jump at my throat, or at least at the cameraman’s throat.
He took a deep breath, stared, pointed a finger at me, and asked, “Where is the Maulana?”
From the way he had walked in, I had expected to hear him growl like Mr Shatrughan Sinha, but when he spoke, he bleated like a lost little lamb.
‘Breaking News’ ticker ran along the bottom of the television screen, and fast moving advertisements filled up both the sides, while they showed the visuals in what space was left in the middle, confusing me and my eyes.
Like a heartbroken lover bitterly blaming his ex after six ‘large’, this man repeated the story that I had seen on other channels, and, staring straight at the camera, asked, “Where is the Maulana?”
When he took a break, a budding actress made a dramatic appeal to care against Corona. She had, well, almost had, tears in her eyes. Her speech touched me so much that I went and washed my hands and dried my eyes!
During repeated and interminable breaks, the advertisements – which numbered more than my reduced salary this month – followed in rapid succession, but out of curiosity and nail biting, edge of the seat suspense, I sat through them all.
After every break he would return, and recap what he had said earlier, while the same visuals repeated over and over again till the faces in them became as familiar as those of my lifelong friends.
Next, the Anchor (why do they call him that when he never stands still?) got four panellists, all experts in various fields, from terrorism to counter-terrorism and religion to communism.
I wondered which of them would reveal the secret, as the needle of suspicion shifted from one to another.
But the esteemed panellists first shouted at each other, then at the Anchor and finally, even at me, further adding to the cacophony and the mystery.
Once again, the camera zoomed into the young man and, staring at me as if I was the one hiding the truth, he yelled, “Where is the Maulana?”
Saying that, he walked away like a Shakespearean star after a moving monologue, and, surprised, I shouted, “Hey, where is the Maulana?”
I felt like a kid who has opened a 500 gram super sized packet of chips and found it filled with 450 grams of air.
Only then did I realise that the Anchor’s brain indeed was much bigger than the WWE gang and also bigger than mine, because he made unsuspecting viewers watch his advertisements for half an hour without an ounce of content.
So, after thirty minutes of continuous bombardment, I know a sunscreen to protect me from the sun during lockdown; I know the oil to control my cholesterol (but I’m worried about Corona, bro!); I know a magical medicine that can turn constipation into loose motion and vice versa; and now, two decades too late, I even know how to raise my kids.
The only thing I don’t know is, “Where is the Maulana?”
Picture courtesy: unsplash.com