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   The wife was asking this morning... (July 12, 1990)

The wife was asking this morning: "Are we invited to Mr. Sharad Pawar's birthday or not?"

"How can we be invited!" I said. "It is going to be a small homely affair, just the immediate members of his family, and his ministers, and MLAs and MLCs, and the workers of Nagpur and Pune, and Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and Mr. Chandra Shekhar."

"Well, if we have not received an invitation, then you better inform his secretary about it. It may have been lost in post, or they may have accidentally overlooked your name when they went through the lists," the wife said.

"Don't be silly, I am not going to write to any secretary about it. If the secretary opens his mouth, as he is bound to, the entire Mantralaya will come to know that I go about asking for invitations to people's birthday parties."

The wife said: "I don't know what to do with you. You have become so timid that you worry about secretaries talking about you. Let them talk, if they want to. If you don't tell them, how will they know that you invitation has been mislaid."

You are assuming that the invitation has been mislaid," I reminded her. "There may not have been any invitation in the first place. After all, Mr. Pawarcannot invite the whole world, as it is he is inviting the whole of Nagpur and Pune."

"We are talking about inviting you, not the whole world," the wife said. "You have always said that Mr. Pawar will never have a birthday party without you. So, now what!"

"I have never, never said that, you are putting words in my mouth," I said. "I am not they typeof person who makes such claims. In fact, I would go to the other extreme and say that I am the last person that Mr. Pawar would consider inviting to his birthday party. The thought would bot even enter his mind."

"You love to undersell youself and be a martyr," the wife said. "If Mr. Pawar can think of inviting Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, whom you yourself said he considers as putty in his hands, you believe he won't think of you!"

"There you go once again putting words in my mouth," I said. "At this rate, you will get not only me into trouble, but also Mr. Pawar. Why don't you look at the bright side of things. Since we are not invited, we will be saving the money we would have given him as birthday gift."

"What's Rs.51 when you are invited to the chief minister's birthday party," the wife said.

"You must be joking if you think it is only Rs.51," I said. "At such birthdays, they expect at least Rs.51 lakh, and that is a special discount for non-builders, builders pay much more."

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