The Fifth Column

19th May 1996

Everybody's worrying me Ammi

Dear Ammi,

Thought I'd pen a few lines to you before departing to cherry blossom land because I really don't have the time to drop in and see you these days and the security chaps don't like it, anyway.

Ammi, after nearly two years at the top, these chaps are really getting on my nerves; I don't know how you managed to live and work with them for the last 40 years!

See, this Thonda - always asking for more, he is and threatening to blow up the ship of state with his unreasonable demands. I know I couldn't have sacrificed Ratnasiri who has stood by me through thick and thin, but that is what Thonda wanted me to do.

And, as if that is not enough, Fowzie messes up at the same time with something about some list. Luckily Bala told me to get O.S.M. on the job, but he ended up giving into all the doctor's demands, making Fowzie look rather silly. Good for him too, to look silly once in a way for saying things like, "I'm the Minister and I do what I like". Here I'm the executive boss and even I can't do what I like!

And now, on top of all this comes Edmond. Has he blotched his copybook I wonder. Must ask him when I get back. What I can't understand is what's wrong with being 56? Here I am, all of 50 years and half the world knows it! If he wanted to look younger, he could have shaved his beard! Now, I suppose I'll just have to ask the poor thing what the fuss is about.

Ammi, were things different in your time for instance, how did you tackle that pest, Thonda? When he came for talks this time, I had to use all my charm and tell him how busy I was and how I didn't have the time to check the kids' homework and I think he fell for that, but I'm not sure whether it will work the next time he comes with some other demand.

Then, there is this incorrigible twosome, Batty and Vasu. Once in a way I wonder what I'm doing with people who cannot get 50,000 votes together and feel like getting rid of them all, but Di Moo warns me against it, saying it will lead to a great split in the alliance. Anyway, I think it will only be a matter of time before I get rid of them, just like you got rid of Colvin and the crowd in the seventies.

And of course, you-know-who is still harping about the executive presidency and why we don't abolish it. One of these days I must remind her that it was, after all the creation of her husband and that it comes in handy when Ministers start thinking too much about themselves.

After enduring all this, Ammi, all I get in return is criticism, criticism and more criticism. You know I have done my best, Ammi. They even criticised my birthday present to you calling it an empty box and a political stunt. Anyway, I will carry on, because I have Velu to deal with also.

What do you want from Tokyo Ammi for a souvenir? How about some kimonos. I thought of buying two, a medium for me and a large for you - but Paddy tells me I won't fit into a medium for long and to buy an additional large and keep.

Till then, Sayonara.

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