Scene: A group of impish-looking students are sitting in a class in session. The teacher is seated in a chair on a slightly-elevated podium and speaking to them.

Modi: History is treacherous. At times, you make it. At times, it makes you. Sometimes it forgets you. Some other time you forget it. That last one plagues me.

A student: Sir, you were telling about how Biharis defeated Alexander The Great.

Modi: Oh yes. See, how I forget. Anyway, I told you how Alexander’s army conquered the entire world, but was defeated by the Biharis. That’s the might of this land.

Another student: But sir, Alexander defeated by the Biharis…?!

Modi: That’s why I keep saying an understanding of politics is crucial to learning history. Not all gaffes are meant for guffaws. Historical gaffes can be political. Likewise political gaffes can be historic, too!

What I meant to say about Alexander was not easy to understand. Let me explain. A young Chandragupta Maurya met Alexander at one of his camps near Taxila. Greek historian Plutarch makes a mention of this meeting in his famous book ‘Parallel Lives: Life of Alexander’. Chandragupta wanted Alexander’s help in ridding India of the tyrannical rule of the Nanda dynasty. However, the meeting did not fructify and Alexander apparently lost his temper and asked the young Chandragupta to leave his camp.

Now you see the correlation here. Chandragupta was a Bihari. Even if that’s in doubt, he and his successors ruled Bihar for more than a couple of centuries. Right?

Students, in a chorus: Right, sir.

Modi: And Alexander lost something when he met Chandragupta, even if it was his temper only. Right?

Students, in a chorus: Right, sir.

Modi: That’s what I meant to say: Alexander was defeated by the Biharis. That’s the might of this land. Am I crystal clear now?

Students, in a chorus: Right, sir.

Modi: There is another angle to prove how I was cent per cent right about Alexander.

After Chandragupta became the king, he became well known in the Hellenistic world for conquering Alexander the Great’s easternmost satrapies, and for defeating the most powerful of Alexander’s successors, Seleucus I Nicator, in battle.

Now you re-analyse what I had said. I said: Alexander’s army conquered the entire world, but was defeated by the Biharis. That’s the might of this land. Did I say Alexander or Alexander’s army?

Another student: Sir, but you also said Taxila, the learning hub of ancient times, was in Bihar.

Modi: Yes, I did. And I stand by it even today. See, Bihar, then called Magadh, was the seat of power. It ruled India, a name which did not exist then. So where could Taxila be?

Students, in a chorus: Bihar, sir.

Another student: But then, you recently said Nehru did not attend Patel’s funeral and they flashed photographs of a grim-looking Nehru at his funeral.

Exactly. Nehru was Patel’s friend of a lifetime. He was too shocked to be there mentally. Physically, he might have attended the funeral. But did I specify mentally or physically?

Students, in a chorus: No, sir. You did not.

Modi: Any more questions? Or should we wrap up the class? Where is the monitor?

A bearded, healthy-looking student, who goes by the name of Master Shah, casts a menacing look at the students who obediently rise to leave the room.

The curtain falls.

All the characters used in this one act play are imaginary. Any resemblance to anybody in politics is merely coincidental.


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