Ardent political activist and social worker Pappu Pandey passed away at his residence in Mumbai yesterday. He succumbed to injuries suffered during a political protest earlier in the week. He was 53 years of age which many believed to be fairly young for death while others believed he had long outlived his time.
His mother spoke in glowing words about his childhood but she was probably the only person in his life who could be so kind. He was known to wear a Nehru cap during his school days which showed his devotion towards politics from a young age but also made his friends wonder what was wrong with him. The origins of the cap are still debated as his mother claims her brother had gifted it to Pappu while his father claims that his wife’s brother was a “good-for-nothing drunk who was lucky to be able to tie his own shoelaces”. Nevertheless, the Nehru cap became synonymous with Pappu’s image ever since the first time he put it on and pretended to lead the nation to Juhu Beach for a battle with Mother Nature as his mother recalls.
At the tender age of 17, Pappu tried leading the rats of the suburbs of Mumbai into a revolution against the exterminators but was disheartened to realise that the rats had no such objective in mind. The reports of his half-day fast to convince the rats to fight for their rights was broadcast across the nation for the better part of a week; the same week that most Indians are still demanding be returned to them by various media houses that published said reports. Despite the failure, the fast resulted in Pappu achieving fame on the national stage albeit attached with a fair share of ridicule.
When he was 24 years old, Pappu fought for and attained the rights for eunuchs to vote in the general elections of 2019. This was seen as the most positive move in his political career but was easily forgotten after he made claims that all newborns should be given the choice to become eunuchs within three days of their birth. In spite of the criticism, he contested in the general elections as an independent candidate. He contested from the constituency in which he was raised but lost. He only received the votes of a few hundred eunuchs.
He remained a public figure for several years due to controversial statements about the supposed intentions of bar dancers. He alleged that bar dancing was only a stepping stone to becoming an item girl in Bollywood songs which irked several members of the film fraternity. He repeatedly clarified his statements as being observational and carrying no malice but the damage was done as far as his ties with top rankers of the entertainment industry were concerned. The Hindi film Ulloo ka Patha was released in 2021 and was a semi-biographical film on Pappu’s statements concerning the film industry. It was received with a positive response from critics and audience members alike but Pappu claimed the film was a mockery of his good nature and his intentions to improve the great nation he lived in.
His fame subsided after he married and started a family but his previously deaf, mute and blind wife divorced him soon after attaining her hearing and sight through surgery. Her grounds for divorce were reportedly her inability to live with him after she had heard what he really sounded like and seen his face up close. Having lived with him for a few days after regaining her senses, she was certain that Pappu suffered from several undiagnosed psychological problems. She cited her greatest regret in life to be having a child with Pappu. The child, a son named Ramu, refuses to accept Pappu as his father and claims he might as well have fallen from the sky rather than have had a father like the one God had given him.
In his final years, Pappu had taken up residence in a national park in the hope that his impending death would provide food for the wild animals who could feast on his body. Unfortunately, during the time that he took up residence in the national park, all the animals in the park fled for higher ground in the belief that Armageddon was upon them. The park authorities requested Pappu to leave the park since the animals would rather die of hunger than eat him.
Months before his death, Pappu tried convincing the rats once again to fight for their rights but the rats told him to “just die already”. Pappu promptly accepted. His last action was to perform a sit-down protest where he fasted unto death for the rights of the rats of the suburbs of Mumbai. Unfortunately, the rats decided to take matters into their own hands and assaulted Pappu who lay helpless in front of a government office. No arrests were made as the judiciary claimed it was an act of public service.
Pappu is survived by his divorced wife and his son who has disowned him.