13 May, 2021

Braggadocio Is An Italian Word

Genial, humble and a democrat. Such is the picture of Atal Behari Vajpayee seen in Karan Thapar’s memoir.

Mildly Amused
Vajpayee’s face had a “winning” appearance when smiling
Photograph by T. Narayan
Braggadocio Is An Italian Word

I got to know Atal Behari Vajpayee because of the kindness of the lady he spent his life with and whose daughter he considers his foster child—Mrs Kaul. I’m not sure why, but she took a shine to me and whenever I wanted an int­erview, she would ensure that Atal-ji said yes. The funny thing is, it always seemed to happen the same way. I would ring Raisina Road, where Atal-ji lived in the early ’90s, and leave repeated messages asking to speak to him. I have no idea what would happen but he would rarely, if ever, ring back. Then, after my fifth or sixth attempt, Mrs Kaul would come on the line. The first time this happened I was rather embarrassed. I thought she had taken the phone to admonish me for my persistence. It certainly was beginning to feel like pestering. So I began by stammering my apologies.

‘Oho, oho,’ she interrupted and shut me up. ‘You have every right to call, beta, and I know what you want. Let me speak to him. Give me a day or so. Ho jaana chahiye.’ I have to confess that I was sceptical. I thought...

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