The Investigator

Shovon Choudhury | Updated on June 19, 2020


Shovon Chowdhury

Entering the Delhi health ministry proves to be difficult. I am hosed down with bleach outside the main gate, and held in a drying area until I have dripped out on the floor. After this, two large men wearing AAP caps take me to the room of the PA to the PA to the PA of the health minister. The PA to the PA has agreed to spare some time to meet me, but first I have to meet his PA. He takes one look at me and shakes his head. “You have not taken adequate precautions,” he says, gloomily. They remove my mask, spray me with bleach, and replace it with a mask which has the lower part of Arvind Kejriwal’s face on it. One of them applies a small Hitler moustache with a quick dab of spirit gum and wraps me in a muffler. A cap is placed on my head. The PA looks me up and down and appears to be satisfied. “Come,” he says. I follow him to the room of his boss. The room is large and full of people speaking on the phone, softly but rapidly. The PA to the PA, a large man in a cream-coloured safari suit, gestures for me to sit. He too is wearing a muffler and a tiny moustache. “All of them speak very softly,” he explains cheerfully, “so that they do not disturb each other. They are talking to Covid-19 patients in quarantine. We are trying to keep all Covid-19 patients at home, due to lack of hospital beds. We call them every day. We ask them a series of critical questions such as: Do you have fever; are you feeling nauseous; and are you aware that this call is from Arvind Kejriwal? Sometimes patients try to escape by disconnecting, but we call right back and start all over again. Patients living on upper floors often hurl themselves or their mobile phones off balconies to escape, but this is fine. These are not counted as Covid-19 deaths. Unless somebody ceases to breathe for two to three hours, we never suggest hospitalisation. Even then, not without a prescription, and we are threatening doctors who issue too many prescriptions. We are sparing no effort to nip this pandemic in the bud. We are also avoiding testing as much as possible. Patients with mild symptoms or flimsy excuses such as ‘my whole family is positive’ are being refused prescriptions for testing. Only those with advanced symptoms such as impending death are allowed, and results are being delayed as much as possible to ensure cases are evenly spread. Eventually, we will bring the number of tests per day down to zero, and hence completely eradicate the menace of Covid-19 from Delhi, once and for all.”



Shovon Chowdhury

In action described as ‘unfortunate but necessary’ by the Restaurateurs Association of India, a 32-year-old resident of Begumpet was lynched by neighbours after he wrote a letter to local GST authorities demanding closer scrutiny of regulations governing puris. “I was only trying to help Modiji improve governance,” he explained in his dying declaration. “But my neighbours misunderstood me. For many years, I have been worrying about puris. Is the government able to realise the necessary and correct amount of revenue, or are we giving a free rein to anarchy? I used to discuss this often with my wife. There are so many factors to be considered. Government officials are obviously overworked, and require our help. The recent nine-page order on parotta is sketchy and inadequate. What about aloo parathas? Should they attract the same rate as gobi parathas? How are we penalising those opting for non-veg stuffing? Is there any incentive for paneer parathas? Do we get a refund if the paratha is cooked in desi ghee, or washed down with a glass of cow urine? None of these questions has been adequately addressed.” He passed away early this morning. His last request for a plate of puri sabzi was denied. No culprits have been arrested so far. In related news, the Akali Dal has issued a warning, saying that “anyone laying a finger on the butter naan will face the full wrath of the Punjabi community.”



Shovon Chowdhury

In news that had led to a sharp spike in the consumption of dhokla, Vikas, whose arrival has been eagerly anticipated across the nation since 2014, has finally been located in Nepal, at a coaching institute on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Regular sightings of Vikas have been claimed over the past six years, especially at railway stations, political rallies and bus depots, but he has proved to be elusive. “Every day, I carefully check all the passengers arriving on flights from Ahmedabad,” said Hariprasad Tripathi, owner of a vegetarian snack bar at Delhi airport. “I scan their faces and call out his name. I even use his mother tongue Gujarati, and try to lure him out with khakhra, but all to no avail.” The long wait is now over, and the nation is heaving a sigh of relief. According to sources from Republic TV, whom eyewitnesses described as ‘jubilant’, Vikas has been spotted taking Chinese lessons at Bablu-da’s Coaching in Kathmandu, which has seen a boom in business since China started subsidising Mandarin lessons. “I learnt Mandarin in 1993 and shifted to Kathmandu,” said Bablu-da, originally a native of Kolkata, “because there are more communists here. Vikas is a very bright boy, and a promising student. He is learning very quickly. He was originally attracted by the Chinese investment, and now he plans to stay. He has not forgotten his motherland, but his arrival may be somewhat delayed.”


Shovon Chowdhury is chief Truthdigger and author of Murder with Bengali Characteristics

The Investigator is a monthly round-up of all things droll and newsy. All views are personal. Really personal. @shovonc


Published on June 19, 2020

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