by Vijai Pant
at the same time pleased, I promptly accepted the
invitation of the unknown caller to be the Chief
Guest along with my wife in a schools
Annual Function. I didnt want the person at
the other end to have second thoughts. Not only
that I profusely thanked him for bestowing this
privilege on me. And by doing so I immediately
brought down my importance a notch or two in his
that the SOP to be followed in such a case, as I
later came to know from an army friend of mine is
to keep the matter on hold and to tell the host
to get back to the invitee after two-three days.
And when he would do so you must impress on
him that you had to juggle around with dates
since your diary was chock-a-block with prior
commitments, and that somehow you have made
yourself available. The whole thing should sound
as if you were doing a great favour to him by
accepting the invitation, was the profound
advice of my friend.
And here I was
making the cardinal error of letting him share my
elation at being made Chief Guest.
Anyhow, with the same high spirits off we went to
the school on the stipulated date and time.
the gun toting guards or a retinue announcing our
arrival should we really blame our host for not
coming to know that the Chief Guests
had arrived? But once that realization dawned,
someone made a dash for the bouquets. Another
person hollered for the photographer and the
welcome moments were freezed.
My name in the
welcome speech made me cock up my ears because my
introduction made me as much aware of my
contributions to society as the gathering. The
anchor took a merry turn from the script in which
I had mentioned my modest achievements. In the
process of upgrading my ordinary work to an
extraordinary level he made me cross landmarks
which, knowing my limitations, I would never ever
dream of. Maybe my humble credentials as an
educationist and writer did not do full justice
to the exalted status of Chief Guest.
As the crowd generously applauded I squirmed in
my seat. What about those present here who
really know me? What would they make
of it? were the questions which justifiably
speech over, we were invited on stage for
lighting of the lamp. But then, hold on, we were
not the only ones. Can you beat it the solitary
candle was passed around to more than a dozen
people, nearly all the front rowers, who
materialized from nowhere to be a part of the
ceremony. In fact, we the Chief Guests
nearly got lost in the crowd.
By now the
initial euphoria had started waning. The anchor,
in between performances further rubbed it in by
gratefully naming nearly everyone present as
Special Guests and thanking them for
their esteemed presence.
The on stage
performances were pedestrian, but then we could
not simply get up and leave, which we so badly
wanted to do. Obviously then we were genuinely
relieved when the curtains came down and we
eventually reached home, but only to find another
Chief Guest invite waiting for us.