Should I take a left … No..no…that’s the wrong way….Should I take a right turn…ummm…I don’t know..
‘What are you doing? Let me sleep it’s 4 am in the morning!’ said my wife while shaking me up from my deep slumber.
‘ You were bumbling something loudly in your sleep…What’s wrong with you..’ she uttered irritably while turning on the other side.
I realised with surprise and with a flood of relief that it was a dream…
If you are thinking, o! wise reader that I was searching for the way while being lost on the road somewhere, you cannot be more wrong. Though I admit I have been found in such a position quite often, much to my wife’s chagrin, and have a poor sense of direction. My search was more philosophical in the dreamland.
I was debating, with my conscience – which might seem absurd and clichéd to you but hey, it was my dream – about which way to lean in today’s scenario. Politically, I mean.
Should I lean towards left or should I embrace the right. Because frankly, one has to choose a side now. One cannot sit on the fence perennially and permanently anymore.
The constant hullabaloo about the historical wrongs and the need to correct them has got all of us pinned- squirming and uneasy- but definitely pinned down. There is no room to wriggle. No room to escape the sharp scrutiny of penetrating public gaze that seems to follow one with a dogged determination to get it out of the depths of one’s mind.
Wherever one goes, be it workplace or while commuting or in one’s housing society, people are going bonkers about the need to correct the historic wrongs and their desperate urge to listen to one’s whole- hearted support to the cause.
And these people won’t take a ‘ no comment’ or ‘ I don’t know’ for an answer. That’s as good as – you are against us – as an answer.
‘What do you mean that you don’t know? Are you a feeble-minded person who can’t see what is good for the country and it’s citizen? Are you an idiot? Wait a second, are you one of those anti- nationals opposing the good work being done by the government?’
You see? don’t you, o! wise reader what a predicament it is for a man like me who is so absorbed in the troubles and nuances of one’s own life; who traverses the journey of life in a trance, dazzled and baffled by the intricacies and contradictions of one’s professional and personal life; that he fails to see the larger picture and is too preoccupied in working out ways to make his bosses, kids and wife happy that he is not bothered by what is happening around him. Revolutions might be on the way, alliances might be breaking off at various states, bombs might be falling off in Tehran or wherever, but he is concerned only for his miniscule and indifferent existence.
And men like me are not uncommon. Not by a long shot. They are found dime a dozen.
Suddenly, spotlight is upon us- what do we think about the tremendous social change being brought about in our beloved nation at this very moment? What do we think about the churning going on in the society right now that will bring the nectar to the surface?
I shrugged helplessly one fine evening while sitting at a gathering of my friends after finding myself at the receiving end of such queries -‘ who me? I don’t know..I mean I have not thought about it…err… it seems everything has been going on nicely in the society for such a long time; I mean we all have been living in a harmony in this great secular nation for a long time- why to disturb the peace for incidents that happened such a long time ago that they don’t matter anymore….’
Bang!…It was done…I was labelled a traitor and my friends stared at me in a particularly unfriendly way and then turned away from me to talk to other ‘like- minded’ people.
I was horrified. Startled. Perplexed. Bamboozled. Bulldozed.
You see I did not see it coming. It was so fast and the judgement so atrocious and brutal, that I had to intervene, retract and do damage control.
I am in their good books again.
But this unsavoury incident did leave a bitter taste in my mouth and got me thinking; and by God! when I start thinking then I am unstoppable.
What is it I really think about the situation.? Where do I stand? I am a leftist and want to cry foul or I am rightist, hell bent upon righting the historical wrongs come what may?
And while pondering over these mighty issues I didn’t know when I slipped gently into the land of dreams, and started talking in my sleep.
But now, after being rudely awakened by my better half and strongly rebuffed by her, I am fully awake and in full possession of my mental faculties.
A new line of thought has started to raise it’s head in my mind – what about the historical wrongs done to me in my own life?
I have frequently thought that I have been wronged mightily by the cruel world at every turn in my life. What about it then? Can’t we do something about it in this season of rightings of all the wrongs?
While we are avenging the mistakes done by the history to the majority of the citizens of this nation, why not to avenge the injustices met to yours truly by the hands of teachers, bosses, in-laws, relatives, traders, plumbers, carpenters…I can go on but I think you must have gotten the gist of it..
I have had a very unsatisfactory childhood and a tasteless blossoming of the youth.
I was not spared even by my parents and got to know very late in my life that I could have obtained a handsome ‘ pocket money’ but was managed by just few pieces of chocolates and promises of toys, games, PS4, bike, 3 bhk flat…I could on but you must have understood by now.
In college time my heart was greviously injured by the rejections of many a fair maidens, who repelled my timid advances haughtily.
And I have been screwed royally by my bosses forever. Well..Who hasn’t?
Ok..I am very excited by this prospect. Tomorrow will be a new morning for me – afresh with the sweet fragrance of revenge.
I am thinking of going on a protest from tomorrow… No, no…not along with the protesters protesting the righting of the wrongs but along with the protesters protesting against the protests of protesters protesting against the righting of the wrongs….I think you are bright enough, o! wise reader to read the above line and extract the correct meaning of my words.
I think the country can afford one more protest in this sea of protests going on everywhere.
But I will have a different agenda – to demand compensations and apologies from the perpetrators of crimes done against me and if I don’t get them there will be consequences; serious consequences, because – damn it! someone has to pay for my grievances.
I am very excited now; I have found the way and it is to have a ‘rightist’ philosophy. From now on I am going to be authoritative, adamant, inflexible, abrasive, commanding, uncompromising and not sorry to be all of the above. I already am feeling a current of power running in my veins. It’s intoxicating and I am getting a high from it.
* * * * * *
In the morning as I started to go out of my house a question from wife encountered me,
‘Where do you think you are going? You have not had your breakfast as yet..’
‘I don’t like this healthy and tasteless breakfast…from now on make sure there are Aloo- parothas or sandwiches in the morning for me with a steaming cup of coffee; and listen things are going to change in this house from today- I am changing the rules, you can think as if I am amending the constitution, from now on I will come and go as I please, and will watch T.V. till late night…also I will decide the menu of meals daily- enough is enough!’
Before I could finish I had to take an evasive action and dove under the dining table to dodge the rolling pin that had emerged from the kitchen like a ballistic missile and came towards me at lightening speed.
Slightly unnerved by this and having dented my new found confidence a bit, I decided to make a run for it, and dashed out of my house before my wife could tear me apart.
Some battles are to be fought at a later date. Right now I have to confront the world and I am going towards the municipal park at the far end of the city where like- minded and ‘right- minded’ people are going to converge to protest against the protest…You know what I mean.
I will go there and keep my point of view and perhaps they will try to avenge wrongs done to yours truly too.
× × × × × × × × × ×
Things have gone wrong…horribly wrong, o ! Wise reader.
Its almost midnight and I am sleeping at my cousin’s place, who happens to live in my city. I am here as my wife has refused to let me enter our home.
I can’t blame her- an hour ago she had bailed me and my friend out of the police lock up, where we had been caged on account of drinking, rioting and creating a ruckus.
You see, I had started with a new belief system and a brand new agenda from my home in the morning but for the longest time I could not find the park where that ‘protest against the protests’ was slated to happen.
People kept on telling me to ‘turn right’ at every crossroad until I was totally lost in my usual fashion. I could not decide whether they were guiding me on the roads of Ahmedabad or on the philosophical journey of my spiritual and political life.
After drifting on the roads for few hours I suddenly realised that I was in the vicinity of a famous sports cafe and the crucial T-20 between India and New Zealand was going to start soon.
I can resist everything except temptation.
Though this immortal line was not written by yours truly but by Oscar wild, it accurately portrays my character in a single line.
I briskly entered the cafe and splayed myself upon the couch in front of the big T.V.
The wonders that the heroics of Rohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami can do to boost one’s patriotism is phenomenal and every speech of every leader of the country pales in front of it. I emerged from the cafe elated, ecstatic and with my ’56 inch’ broad chest fully puffed up. My resolution to avenge the wrongs had lost much of it’s steam.
Anyway, I trudged onwards with my agenda more in the fear of returning home than any real zeal for the cause. It was already late evening and after crossing few streets I had a strong desire for a hot cup of tea. As I stood near a bus stand I suddenly recognised the gully leading to the home of one of my oldest friends, one whom I had not seen in a long time.
I wasted no more time and reached his home. He was delighted to see me and imparted the happy news that he himself was seeking the company of a friend as his wife had gone to her parental house for few days with the kids.
‘ Who will prepare the tea then?’ I asked with concern. I am always very practical in life.
‘Arre pagle who needs tea when we have this’- and he proudly produced a beautiful bottle of Chivas Regal (18 years old) in front of me
I gulped in anticipation. You see living in Ahmedabad makes life complicated…I don’t support drinking and it’s good that alcohol is banned here, but there are times, like when one is staggering alone on the pathways and struggling with inner turmoils, where if one gets the company of a good friend and an angelic vision of single malt whiskey then life becomes a little bearable.
So we sat and washed down the divine liquid with chakhna. He asked me what I had been doing in that area and fell off laughing from the chair after hearing about my mission.
‘Saala…##^%#…What is this new shit that you have become entrenched in…forget all this historic wrong-vong,’
My dear friend is quite a jolly fellow and uses obscenities like punctuation marks while talking to his male friends , and it is comforting in a way. He goes through his life laughing at everything and making fun of everyone.
Curiously he Sobers down a lot after having few pegs and then becomes very lucid and rational. So when enough liquor entered his system he said to me..
‘Seriously yaar, this country is not worth living in anymore. What is this absurdity of digging up past and poisoning the present that is going on. Do we have to divide the society and witch-hunt our innocent brothers and sisters living with us and punish them for crimes done by their ancestors? What sort of morality is this? Are we living in 21st century or 11th century when Mohammed Ghori invaded our country? And does one correct one wrong by committing another wrong? Is this what history has taught us? To perpetrate the same crimes, to make the same mistakes and to stumble onto the same stones twice?’
‘And,’ he continued unabated,’ aren’t we creating more historic wrongs for the future generations…If they would go avenging their historic wrongs than what will happen? The vicious cycle will go on and on…And if all religious groups in all the nations of the world would resort to such measures then what will happen? Humanity itself will be history pretty soon,’
By this time I had been much moved by his words and placed my glass firmly on the table with a loud whack, ‘ No..You are absolutely right…I was an idiot to fall into the trap..let’s go out and instill some sense in this wacko society,’
By this time we had downed the whole bottle and we stumbled down unsteadily to the road in front of his society and started yelling…
‘Down with fascism…Stop this madness..’
I don’t even remember what we were shouting…but through my mental haze I do remember the scene when my friend was jumping haphazardly to save his posterior from the thick stick of the constable while demanding from him- why was alcohol banned in Gujarat and what about his fundamental right of freedom to decide whether he wanted to destroy his liver or not.
I did not behave in a sane manner either. While I was being accosted by the policeman, a decent looking man came towards me to help me and introduced me as the local municipal corporator and a distinguished member of the ruling party.
At that moment I committed an unforgivable blunder by asking him the one question which should never have been asked -‘ Well sir, what about the economy then? Why is it in the doldrums?’
I don’t remember anything other than waking up in the locker with a lot of bruises over my body and my wife processing the bails of yours truly and my friend.
The look that my wife gave me when I came out sent shivers down my spine and my legs became watery. Of course, I was not allowed into our home.
My life is in shreds and I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow.
As I write this, my friend has been evicted from his society and I have got a notice from my boss for an urgent meeting first thing in the morning tomorrow. I think I might be on the verge of getting the pink slip, unless I do what I do everytime – retract my statements and do damage control.
It seems I am going to be quite busy in the coming few days as I will be engaged in rigorous yesmanship and arse licking of my boss and that corporator, and obviously in taking out my wife to the jewellers to pacify her.
So long, O! Wise reader, have a good life and be on the ‘right’ side of the debate always.
Goodbye and Jai shri Ram! ( Just to be politically correct)