Mistaken Identity AKA Comedy of Errors

Col Rajiv Kapoor, SATA Wing, (The Poor Kapoor)

I will certainly be blowing my own trumpet today – pardon me – and after I loose my breath doing that I will sue Brig Mirji and his coterie at MS 11 for posting me in “duplicate” here in School of Arty, not once, not twice, but for three tenures. You all will vouch for me that this is intentional! Its ok if a man lives a dual personality but its too much if it is from two different physical bodies and three much if it is a crude remix of “pure” and “poor”. Confused, are all you readers? You ought to be since I (we?) have been confused for full 25 years.disclaimer

So once upon a time – the story goes, there was a Rajiv Kapur and a Rajiv Kapoor. Knock knock, whose there? The “Poor” one for the latter and the “Pure” one for the former, so says the former. One more input before I narrate the piquant episodes. The “poor” Kapoor’s wife is Vandana while the spouse of the “Pure” one is Sharmila, both charming and beautiful ladies.

One monsoon evening while there was an incessant drizzle outside, my door bell sounded aloud. I was in my shorts and apron frying fish in the kitchen. I came out in that condition and accosted a young officer. “Mem saab hain kya?” He uttered with in vexed confidence. I replied in chaste Hindi, “Han hain, aapko kya chahiye?” He replied, “Humko puchhna tha ki mem saab ko kisi cheese ki zaroorat to nahin”. I could figure out the malaproposity of the youngster, yet I took a dig at him in English this time. “Well young man, normally I fulfill all the needs of my wife but if you still insist I will call her”. The malicho seen, I explained to him that probably he was looking for the other Mrs Kapur since Col Kapur was admitted in MH. The youngster being his unit officer wanted to demonstrate his chivalry to the lady!

Few wet days passed by. I had made rail reservations to proceed on a holiday with my family. On that fateful evening, I developed an acute abdominal pain. I reported to MH at 1800 hours and by 2000 hours I was wheeled into the OT for an emergent surgery. At 2100 hours the other Col Rajiv Kapur entered the MH gate returning from out pass. The civilian chaukidar halted him to ask his identity. When he told him his name he demanded his identity card. The “Pure” Kapur gave him a mouthful “I am Col Rajiv Kapur admitted in the officer ward; how do you expect me to carry my I-card? The chaukidar told him to proceed to the DMO. To the DMO the chaukidar complained “Saab – yeh saab apne apko Col Rajiv Kapoor bata rahen hain. Unka to OT mein operation chal raha hain”, well I can’t even call him poor man! Poor Rajiv, he was all too happy – Thank God I was on out pass otherwise they would have removed my – – – – s.

In the nineties, Gen Vinayshankar, then CommandantSchool, expressed his desire that the annual GADs show be performed on the THI stage. The play was in progress amidst cocktails. Sharmila was participating in the play and her name appeared on the brochure as Mrs Rajiv Kapur. I had few friends from Wellington attending the show. Vandana was busy with her own crowd of ladies. Very hesitatingly one of my friends asked “Rajiv, don’t tell me! you’ve done that! When did it happen?” I said “What happened?” “Well you’ve married again and I don’t even know”. He had the brochure in his hand which explained his dilemma. So, during the interval I introduced him to Sharmila as the Pure Kapur’s wife. Of course, Vandana was by my side to prove my fidelity.

Chapeaux bas to the duplicacy faux pas, when as a step towards my post retirement resettlement plan, I applied for a management course at IIM Lucknow in February this year. Gleefully I informed my relatives that I would be there. Vandana and her neighbourhood gave me a long list of chikan salwar kameez to be bought from Aminabad. On the Ides of March when I rang up SO Field Wing asking for the ‘Pure’ Kapur, I was given the awesome news that he was undergoing management course at Lucknow. On his return his explanation was, “What could I do my name appeared in the list so I went” Et Tu Brute!

Even the THI bills and Heritage mess bills have a remix tale to relate. Vandana suspiciously holds the “wills” cigarette bar chit in her hand “Raj are you smoking?” And on yet another day – “Oh while I was in Mumbai you were partying?” The ‘Pure’ Kapur guzzles down three Bacardi on a Saturday night and his loyal Sahayak signs for just Col Rajiv Kapoor – the Wing left to the imagination of the barman.

My sister flew straight from Los Angeles to Mumbai, and drove with actress Kajol to Devlali to give me a surprise. She knew only my SATA Wing address hence she reached there. Classes were getting over and officers were driving back for lunch. She enquired about my residence from two officers on a bike. They beckoned her to follow them and landed her bang in front of the ‘Pure’ Kapur’s house. Before you called Jack Robinson, they had vanished. Rajiv came out still in uniform. My sister said “Oh! I am sorry but I am looking for Col Rajiv Kapoor”, But madam “I am Col Rajiv Kapur”. That was too much for Kajol to digest. After all the rush and surprises here’s a sister who doesn’t even recognize her own brother. And my sister was wondering “What the hell – has Rajiv gone in for plastic surgery – but for pete’s sake why did he choose this face?” Rajiv put at ease the dumb founded ladies and directed them to the right “Garib Khana”.

Brig Mirji sir, we can tolerate clearing each other’s bills but I would put in a plea through the medium of this popular magazine to prevent my retirement cheque being passed on to the ‘Pure’ Kapur. That day this Kapoor will soulfully become ‘Poor’.