Remember those breathless three days – Zelensky mixed up even his numbers. He first said his forces have occupied 1000 square kilometres in Kharkiv region in three days; six hours later he said they have occupied 2000 square kilometres, next days the figure had jumped to 5000, next day it was 8000. Exasperated at not getting precise information, on the fourth day Zelensky said that the area is so big, it will take a long time measuring it all; till then just accept that it is big. While celebrations were going on in Ukraine, the Russians said they haven’t lost any area; the Russian commanders had decided on a tactical retreat so that the soldiers could “regroup” and make mince meat of Ukrainian forces. What is this English word “regroup”, mused Putin, not having heard of it in spite of being fluent in the Queen’s English, though with Charles on the throne, it should now be King’s English. Putin Googled the word and found on Oxford:
“reassemble or cause to reassemble into organized groups, typically after being attacked or defeated”
Defeated, screamed Putin. Off with the head of the idiot who gave that explanation. Putin loves Alice in Wonderland and its Queen of Hearts because of the red. Lavrov, the Foreign Minister, is always cool, specially when the situation is hot. He was cool even when he talked of using nukes on Ukraine. When angry, Putin listens only to Lavrov, who knows the art of saying something quite opposite to what an angry Putin had said while making it abundantly clear that he agrees with Putin. This cools down Putin, because like all dictators, agreement with what the dictator says is salve for the burning soul. But this time it seemed rather difficult. This is another dictionary, from Cambridge, Putin sizzled:
“REGROUP – to organize something again in order to make a new effort, especially after a defeat”
“Off with that commander’s head; he loves the word defeat so much. Could he not use another word? Russians never talk of defeat; is he Ukrainian? They keep talking of defeat.” Lavrov put a hand over his mouth to prevent the words “The defeat they keep talking of is ours” from spilling out. That would have been followed by “off with Lavrov’s head”.
Lavrov calmy started giving Putin a sermon on geography and language. “These are dictionaries from a postage stamp island, where only a small group speaks this language because they could not learn Latin. The rest speak Scottish or Welsh or even more confusing gibberish like Celtic, now called Irish. Putin agreed because it reminded him of his father who always used to bellow, “Size matters!”. Of course, that was not in reference to islands or their languages but for buying a pig for roasting. Which is a good American dictionary, asked Putin of Lavrov. America is big, isn’t it. Yes, agreed Lavrov. “They gave us another language taught to their babies by slave nannies and wet nurses. Rotten that the Americans are, they nursed on the black women but kept them as slaves.”
Lavrov would have continued about the civil war, the emancipation proclamation and apartheid but he was interrupted by Putin. “Isn’t what the Americans speak also called English?” “Yes, it is. Even the computer says it is US English. As you know, US things are better than the British things; as your father said, “Size matters!”. Putin was pleased and reassured. Feeling safe in this lucid interval of Putin, Lavrov got up and fetched the large Merriam Webster. He opened it to “regroup” and placed it before Putin. Is it American, Putin asked. Yes, as American as a hotdog. Putin loves dogs but not American dogs. He approached the tome cautiously; he is suspicious of anything large and America:
1: to reorganize (as after a setback) for renewed activity
2: to alter the tactical formation of a military force
Is that commander American, asked Putin, now in a good enough mood to let that commander’s head remain on his shoulders. He is as Russian as the Romanovs, as Russian as the Red Square, assured Lavrov. “I talked to him today. He said he used the American meaning as it was addressed to the Americans; the British were at that time too busy deciding between Truss and Sunak. I am sure you will reward the commander.” Putin beamed and announced “Russian Order of the Appropriate Use of Foreign Words to Weaken the Enemy” for the lucky commander. I will have it sent to Zelensky, Lavrov said. As Putin looked puzzled, Lavrov explained that the commander, after patriotically retreating for regrouping, was a little apprehensive and crossed over to Ukraine for serving Mother Russia from a new location. Lavrov had talked to his counterpart in anticipation of Putin’s generosity and he had agreed that the medal shall be ceremonially delivered to the commander.
The whole to and fro of this commander between ever-changing meanings and even faster changing borders was a little too much for the little Putin and he wanted to rest in peace, while still breathing and only for sometime and not eternally as most of the Russians, including Lavrov, were hoping.
Of course, the Ukrainians did not know of this tête-à-tête and Putin’s desire to rest. They advanced further and took the city of Lyman and another commander declared that Russians have not retreated but have cleverly moved to a new defensive position to avoid encirclement by the Ukrainians. Putin waved off Lavrov, instructing him to look at these words in an American dictionary and let him know whether these make for good propaganda.
There is an African saying, “Finding one beehive is lucky, finding a second one is very lucky, finding a third one is witchcraft.” “Who is Zelensky’s witch doctor?” Putin asked when informed that Russians have retreated in the Kherson region and the Russian commander has explained it as an ingenious move to prevent terminal harm to the brave Russian troops by the numerically and technologically superior tanks provided by the US to Zelensky. Numerical superiority is a verifiable fact while technological superiority is a matter of opinion. Lavrov said that the numerical superiority of Ukrainians, being a fact, needs to be rectified as Russia does not like being caught on the wrong foot on facts. He has ordered thousands of tow-trucks that will place the damaged tanks, Russian as well as Ukrainian, on every battlefront in future so that Russians do not suffer from numerical inferiority that can be verified from satellite images unlike technological difference that can be handled by the “Department for Promoting the Russian Opinion as the Only Truth”
As for Zelensky’s witch doctor, Putin has ordered that the incense he burns for conjuring spirits be laced with his famous door-handle poison Novichok that had almost killed the double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, unless the wizard agrees to take a Russian passport, in which case he shall be allowed to practice from the ancient secret cave in the Kremlin.
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