The world knew him by many names – the Cephaloprophet, the underwater nostradamus and the molluscan marvel. But to those of us who knew him personally, Paul’s life is one of those fairy tales that Disney refuses to make because there aren’t any songs in them.
Before he achieved mind numbing fame, Paul was just another octopus. He was unhappy and unemployed. After refusing to act in 13 Japanese videos,he was looking for alternate ways of employment. He had even registered for ORGY – The Octopus Rozgaar Guarantee Yojana – but nothing much came out of it. “Being an Octopus isn’t an easy thing you know”, he told me during one of those times, munching on the last piece of Papda.
I understood what he meant. Too many ‘sucker’ jokes were hurled at him. He never really found out where his middle finger was. He didn’t even know what to do with all those arms. Add to that a boring sex life and the risk of dying within months of consummation, Paul had too much on his hands, literally and figuratively.
Finding a job wasn’t easy either. Everywhere he went, they asked him for ‘hands’ on experience. Every time he wrote ‘Mollusca’ on a form, people jeered at him. ‘And that James Bond movie be damned. Octopussy? What were they smoking when they came up with that name?” roared Paul as he struggled to spell cephalopod for his adopted kid’s homework.
‘The last time my life felt worthwhile was when one of my relatives was cast as a villain in Nagraj’s comic’, Paul reminisced. “Although he ended up dying, I really felt proud. But this tentacle porn thing, this has ruined it all. This is like a BP oil blot on our careers”.
(Paul’s relative in Nagraaj ka Insaaf)
And then, Fifa happened.
‘Fifa changed my life’, an ecstatic Paul told me, “It felt like being in the Self-Help section of Landmark or like being followed on Twitter by Deepak Chopra”. How did being an Oracle feel, I asked him after he got featured on CNN. “It felt great. For starters I got to be an Oracle without facing the camera with Keanu Reeves. Neither did I have to live with kids who keep saying ‘There is no spoon’ every time you try to feed them some cornflakes.”
“But seriously, it was a great experience. I got free food, loads of attention and Twitter jokes for just placing my hand on a stupid box. It was like clearing the IITJEE exam by giving a no-negative marking exam.”
Wasn’t the responsibility too much for his shoulders, I wondered. “Well, considering the fact that I have eight shoulders, I’d say the responsibility was just about right”, He said with a twinkle in his eyes.*
But mention the word ‘UEFA’ and he returns to his gloomy self.. “What happened Paul?”, I jokingly probed as he prepared himself for a camouflage. He coughed but couldn’t decide which hand to cover his mouth with. I could spot his uneasiness but the world deserved to know the truth.
‘It was just a bad guess, that’s all’, Paul exclaims. “I was in a terrible mood. My plea to remove the word ‘vulgar’ from my binomial name was rejected by the Academy That Names Octopuses. The UEFA thing just added injury to insult.”
But Paul appeared to have made up for his sins by his stupendous effort in the World Cup, an effort not without consequences. How does he feel about death threats, I had asked him when rumors of an attempted assassination were doing rounds. Was this FIFA stint worth the risk?
‘Totally worth the risk’, Paul replied with the confidence of a Palin. ‘A great Bhojpuri saint once said, ‘Zindgi jhandwa if no fatwa’. I am one of the select animals apart from Selena Gomez to get a death threat. How cool is that? Plus I am not afraid of dying, it is using toilet paper every morning that worries me’.
Like a proper Oracle, Paul announced an early retirement, to enjoy the rest of his life with friends, fans and food. With Paul’s timely death, his auto-biography ‘Predicting the Prediction – the tale of the Eight Limbed Seer’ remains unfinished. But his life and his struggles have inspired a whole generation of Octopii who are lining up at Bejan Daruwallah’s swimming pool to learn the art of astrology.
Gopaul, a young Octopus from the Bay of Bengal tells me enthusiastically, ‘We’ll take forward what Paul has started, you know, apply his knowledge and technique to other games. Mark my words, Ganguly da will be picked up by one of the IPL teams’. Well, Gopaul’s career can easily be predicted but that of thousands of other Octopuses is as stake as they are taking admissions in colleges like Indian Institute of Prediction Management. Paul’s fame has stirred the world octopus population and has urged octopuses worldwide to strive for higher glory, to move on from being food and vibrators to being something else, something larger.
As the cheers of ‘Paul zindabaad tha, zindabaad hai, zindabaad rahega’ fade, and other seers like Paul II rise to take the baton, we must take a moment and remember Paul. Remember Paul the octopus, who despite all odds and vuvuzelas, successfully predicted the outcome of an entire worldcup and changed the course of Octopus history. Paul, the inspiration behind the ‘karlo duniiya mutthiyon mein’ tagline. Paul who could have chosen to become the Linda Goodman of the under-water-world or Dawood Ibrahim’s pet animal during the ICC World Cup, but one who chose a noble path and a noble game. Dear Paul, you’ll forever be missed.
– Pauline the octopusni
*<cue Askhay Kumar laugh>0