Hans Christian Andersen is one of 17th centuries' greatest story-tellers. I especially like his fairy tale 'The Red Shoes' which the Danish author wrote in 1845 [around the same time the Brits fought the Sikhs in north India. The Dogras, till then Sikh loyalists, cleverly turned British supporters overnight and got Kashmir] about a girl Karen who becomes a victim of her own red shoes. Yesterday a cop [variously described as a nutcase, drunkard, contentious et al] threw a leather brogue at the duke of Gupkar.
He missed. There was frenetic activity at 1 Gupkar road at night. Farooq Abdullah shaved for the second time in one day and jumped into his waiting SUV and drove from his home at 7 Gupkar, a 45 second walk, to Omar's bungalow. Palace insiders gave this account.
Farooq [hassled]: Where is Omar? Where is Omar? Tell him Farooq is here. [Dr Sahib prefers to use third person for himself, like Gaius Julius Caesar]
Omar [clad in a Zara tee-shirt and Bermudas]: I am coming, tell him not to create a scene. I am already stressed out.
Farooq: Any leads on the shoe case?
Omar: They are looking into it.
Farooq [loosening a big-stoned ring on his index]: What is your guess?
Omar: You may have an idea. I told you I want to resign and go someplace nice and quiet and cool – to unwind. Now face this!
Farooq: Come on Omar. I have faced bigger challenges in life.
Omar: But you never faced a shoe.
Farooq: The cop, they say, is not in a sane frame of mind.
Omar: I heard him shout – Hum Kya Chahtey: Azadi [We want Freedom] very distinctly. He didn't sound like a madman.
Farooq: Do you smell fish?
Omar: The butler is making tuna tonight.
Farooq: I mean – do you rule out the hand of Muftis in this?
Omar: It has to be someone's foot dad. Remember, it was a shoe.
Farooq: Now who is being non-serious? And you think I act casual.
Omar: Well no one from PDP turned up at the stadium.
Farooq: Good riddance. Continue with it. Send them no invites. Why should they eat at government functions in the day and then criticize us in TV debates at night.
Omar: I don't care, dad.
Farooq: Well I do. I think our naughty neighbors could be involved in this.
Omar: They have floods. Apparently they got no time to brain-wash disgruntled old policemen at this time.
Farooq: Someone threw a shoe at Zardari last week.
Omar: Just because someone tried to knock him down, it doesn't mean they will pay someone to try it on me.
Farooq: Who do we blame then?
Omar: Divisive elements. I prefer keeping it vague and low-key.
Farooq: It is a big deal – already.
[There is a knock]
Farooq: Who is it?
Farooq: Devender who?
Voice: Devender, Omar's advisor.
Farooq [with that Omar-you-and-your-so-called-experts look]: Come in.
Enter Devender, chest heavy with some intel he wants to share.
Omar: Speak Devender. It is OK.
Devender: Bandipore is Carnival-like! Thousands are marching to Ahad Jan's home.
Omar: Who is this Ahad Jan, now?
Devender: Err...The cop who threw the foot-wear projectile at you.
Omar: Dad says he is mad.
Devender: He bagged the President's bravery medal in 1990.
Farooq: Wayeh Khudaya, kom pagal gaye agadey. [God, we are faced with crazy people]
Omar: Whatever. Devender, mind a Tuna dinner. The fish is meant to be eaten raw. Just flame-kissed with lemon.
Devender: I won't mind.
Farooq: Devender, where is the shoe now?
Devender: Err... [At which Omar cuts him short]
Omar: Dad how about some Ortiz Bonito del Norte tuna.
Farooq: I have no appetite tonight.
PS: The palace conversation is pure pasquinade.