“BARACK?”

President Obama woke up with a shudder: no one had called him by his first name for a long time. Not even Michelle: to her he was either an officious ‘Mr President,’ which he insisted on, or ‘My little Bunny’ — depending on which side of the bed she had got up from.

The name had come ricocheting like a bad echo from a juvenile past, bringing with it remnants of those six juicy ones he’d on one occasion got on the rear from the headmaster in Honolulu.

Banishing the school locker incident for which he had been thwacked to the inner recesses of his mind, though it needed a Herculean effort to brush aside those ravenous pin-ups, Obama looked at the watch. It was only 3.30 am and he had barely slept for three hours. Possibly all that banquet banter with the Indian Prime Minister about being able to catch just 40 winks had inadvertently kicked off his biological clock.

‘BARACK?’ The voice, a tad closer, had a familiar ring to it, now.

The president looked around furtively: he was all for women empowerment, but did Michelle have to really sleep like a log? He badly needed his chewing gum at such times. Where was it? He had left it on the bedpost. Or was it under the sink? The gum had been a constant companion since his baseball dugout days and he euphemistically called it his ‘BUDDY.’

Of course, it was really thoughtful of Prime Minister Modi to have offered him some ‘supari’ – it had an odd Italian-sounding name — at the R-Day parade.  Sugary and nice to chew for a while, but gone so fast once you were done with the chewing, unlike ‘BUDDY,’ who had lasted and lasted like a good friend and could still be saved for another chomp.

But, at the same time, you never knew with this guy Modi: Obama had a sneaking suspicion that the Indian Prime Minister was not entirely guided by unselfish concerns and would sooner or later ask ‘Milan Supari’ to set up shop on the White House lawns. At this rate, the President dreaded, he would soon be gobbling up those gobstopping ‘paans’ and serving them to Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt on her frequent visits to the White House. Of course, ‘paan’ stains would then be a recurring issue and who knows, the White House would cease to be white…

‘BARACK?

‘The voice was loud and empathic. It was Prime Minister Modi. He stepped in through the French window, smiling, instinctively expecting the President to come flying into his arms.

”I have brought your chewing gum, it was sticking to the collar of my pinstripe coat — the one that has my name scribbled on it,” said Modi, who liked to get these things straight, by way of explanation. ”You must have left it on my coat when we hugged.”

”Oh. My BUDDY!” gushed the President, clearly pleased at recovering his gum.

”Yes, I am your buddy now, Barack, a buddy for life,” said the Prime Minister, equally pleased at the outcome. “Come, let’s hug once again.”