Happy Birthday, Barack Obama. Onward and Upward!


Happy Birthday, Barack Obama. Onward and Upward!

Illustration: Saachi Mehta/ Arré


Hello there, Mr President! Or may I call you Barack? No? Okay then, Mr President it is. Good evening and a very happy birthday to you! You look a bit puzzled so allow me to introduce myself. I am an envoy of our Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, who is the mastermind of this secret gala. Since it is your final birthday in office, our Prime Minister took it upon himself to personally fly here and organise a surprise birthday party for you.

Unfortunately, Mr Modi was detained at Dulles airport for an immigration inspection and might be a bit late. Apparently officials were suspicious about his “highly frequent trips” to visit this “Hussein guy” who lives in a “white house”. Sir, does this house even have an address?

Anyway, I was available because I am no longer subject to these hold-ups as I just received my green card. So once again, Happy 55th Mr Obama! I may not be a noted statesman like Rajan Zed or a renowned scholar like Reza Aslan, but what I most certainly am, is a big fan of yours. I’ve been following your career since the very first keynote speech you unleashed upon your fellow Americans at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

You were much younger then, but I was still quite impressed by your oratory. Maybe because back in my home country we once had a leader whose oratory consisted mostly of facial expressions – which we couldn’t see because of his thick facial hair. In fact, I remember watching you and being absolutely certain, like many other Americans, that I had just witnessed the unveiling of the next leader of the United States of America.

And it did turn out that way, did it not? Along with millions of others, I watched your 2008 victory address with blurry vision, celebrating the emergence of a new America, an America that had audaciously voted for a black socialist Kenyan Muslim named Barack Hussein Obama.

(Speaking of which, please disregard Donald Trump who is still rifling through your filing cabinets, trying to find your birth certificate. No one knows who invited him but as long as you do not look too ethnic or like you’re about to export a job to China, he won’t attack.)

Mr President, I must admit, once the initial euphoria of your victory had subsided and we’d all landed on terra firma, there were some doubts about what you would actually achieve as President. It was a bleak time in America. The stock market was in the sewer. The house I had just purchased had already lost value between the time I walked in through the front door for the first time and realised that the toilet flushes weren’t working. Damn, should’ve gone for a new construction.

I know I speak for Prime Minister Modi when I say Indians need to similarly show their tolerance for homosexual activity as long as it strictly only involves hugging godmen.

Defying nearly every Republican in Congress, you and fellow Democrats passed the stimulus package and then passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, thereby making it a bit harder for the damn banks to screw us all over again. But the real big moment of your presidency, Mr President, was passing Obamacare.

I remember when I lost my job right after 9/11. My first reaction was, shit, there goes my health insurance. I made a conscious effort to not fall sick by not eating food that had fallen on the floor. But despite my best efforts, I did fall sick. And if it were not for the compassion of my family doctor who, incidentally, was also Indian and treated me at no charge, I would have gone broke. True single-payer universal healthcare is still a few years away, Mr President, but Obamacare was a great start to ensuring Americans don’t lose coverage when they’ve lost their job and need it the most.

To be honest, Mr President, us Indians are kind of puzzled as to why it took the United States this long to enact healthcare legislation when the Indian government did it a long time ago. Of course, our healthcare laws only apply to our bovine brothers and sisters, but still.

Now, Mr President, I am not gay even though I have often been told that I have an almost homosexual appreciation of the finer things in life. But, I was still elated when you ended “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, a grotesquely humiliating policy that discriminates against LGBT servicemen and women. I know I speak for Prime Minister Modi when I say Indians need to similarly show their tolerance for homosexual activity as long as it strictly only involves hugging godmen.

On a personal note, it’s been very enjoyable to catch you and your family in your lighter moments, poking fun at each other and at other public figures, and just being a cool First Family in general. Coming from India, it is kind of a novel concept to be able to poke fun at a public figure without having to shut down your Facebook account, change your name, and move to a less hostile planet.

Sorry, Mr President, I guess I’ve been rambling. Let’s get on with the festivities, shall we?

Yes, Mr Trump, it is time for cake. But please wait until the President blows out the candles this time.

Happy Birthday, President Barack Obama. Here comes PM Modi, in time for his birthday hug.