Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s fans have been a very nervous lot. The recent news about the crippling losses of Rs. 1,000 crore suffered by the Badshah of Dalal Street has caused them great anxiety. “Will the Oracle of Mumbai lose his coveted status of Billionaire and become an ordinary citizen” was the dominant worry throughout. Of course, we at the Fan Club were very confident that the Badshah would pull through. We did do our best to put things in perspective and assuage that nervousness.
Today has been a particularly nerve wracking day for Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s fans because the official declaration from Forbes was to be released. The fans began lining up at the Forbes India’s Head Office in Churchgate, Mumbai, since the early morning. You could see the tension writ large on their face. “Kya Hoga Boss, Maloom Nahin”, Mukeshbhai, an ardent admirer of the Oracle of Mumbai remarked, as he absent-mindedly pulled out a packet of supari from his shirt pocket, put a generous amount between his palms and rubbed them vigorously. “In Gore Logon ka koi bharosa nahin”, Jigneshbhai answered, as he rolled the gutka in his mouth and spat it out with contempt at the thought that the foreigners (the owners of Forbes) could demote Rakesh Bhai.
The declaration was to be at 9.00 am. However, till 11.00 am, there was no sign of anybody making any declaration. By this time, the crowd had swelled and was getting restless. People were impatiently checking the time as well as the stock quotes. Luckily the markets were in the green and that helped to soothe the sentiments of the crowd. Then, as the anxious moments went by, a fresh faced junior executive from Forbes suddenly appeared on the balcony and waved enthusiastically at the waiting crowd. It was as if he thought that everybody was waiting for him to make an appearance. Many in the crowd glared at him though some of the more friendly ones waved back. Then, with excruciating slowness, he began reading out the names. He had a nasal voice. “Sr. No. 22 Mukesh Ambani, Sr. No. 41 Lakshmi Mittal, Sr. No. 91 Azim Premji …” he droned on. The crowd was getting restive. They hadn’t come to hear the status of Mukesh Ambani or Lakshmi Mittal or any of the others. They were only interested in knowing the status of Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. “Abbey Rakesh Bhai Ka Bol Na” Jignesh bhai shouted loudly. Mukesh Bhai and several others in the crowd took a cue from this and started chanting “RakeshBhai, RakeshBhai”. This completely flustered the fresh faced executive and he lost his nerve. The sheaf of papers dropped from his hands evoking mirth and laughter amongst the crowd. Finally, the fresh faced executive found his bearings and Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s name in the list and blurted out “Serial No. 1161 – Rakesh Jhunjhunwala – Net Worth 1.25 Billion USD”. That met with a loud roar of approval from the crowd. Many started dancing spontaneously. Mukeshbhai had smuggled in a few fire crackers that he had salvaged from last Diwali. He lit them up. Jigneshbhai had brought a few pedhas from home. These also had been salvaged from last Diwali. He danced around and distributed the sweets to all those who were close to him. Everybody had a big smile on their faces. You could see how relieved they were. All that tension and nervousness over the past few weeks had finally given way for jubilation. “Dekha, Bola Tha Na, Rakesh Bhai Jeetega”, Mukesh Bhai thumped Jigneshbhai’s shoulders as they both headed over to the tea stall to have a Banarasi Paan and a special cutting chai.