Strangely enough that was eleven years ago and even today somewhere in my heart there is this small hope that one day I will fulfill that long forgotten dream. And in all this the one person who always said that I could do it was my father. He too like me had wanted to be a politician and in fact was actively involved in student politics. After years of becoming a husband and dad when he got an offer from an ‘X’ party to join them he became excited.
“Give me a divorce if you want to join it. I will take my kids and go away,” came the crisp, strict reply from my mother.
And so his dreams got vanished.
But then today I can fulfill his dreams (albeit vicariously!) of becoming a politician.
For all practical purposes lets just take a ride on the imagination train and believe he has become a politician. A person who can bring about some change to the lives of hundreds. He is now we would call an MP of a town called “Happyland”.
* * *
Papa won his member of parliament seat after an advent campaign and so boy we were excited. We went down the lane with roads strewn with flowers and thronged with people. It was quite something. We somewhere felt like we had ultimately not just won a seat but also the hearts of the people residing there.
“A landslide victory to Mr. Jagmer Singh,” the news was flashing on all major TV channels.
After a tiring day of welcoming well wishers and people from the constituency. Dad and I could find a peaceful moment.
“Dad how does it feel?” I asked him watching him sit intensely in the brown leather sofa.
“It feels like now I can wipe their pain, their apprehensions their fears and dread of the past. It feels like I can now give them their first Jagmer Singh. Their first true neta who will not let them down. I know its tough but I will do it until my last breath which in this country as history has shown can be quite a literal concept in politics,” he spoke with a deep grim expression on his face.
“Please don’t talk like this,” I spoke a little anxious to see him speak like this.
“You go off to sleep tomorrow is a new day a fresh start,” he spoke this time with a hint of smile.
* * *
“Memsahab the car is ready,” I heard the driver speak. I was going to meet a friend today and father had asked the driver to stay behind and drive me there.
I rushed out to see that it was not a driver but many and not a car but plenty to fill the world with pollution.
“Ek gaadi nikal lee jiye,” I spoke to a visibly astounded man.
After much pomp and show we chose the dilapidated maruti zen to drive down to my friend’s place.
But then there was another issue, the security issue so my car was filled with people in uniform armed as if the nuclear strike can occur any moment.
“Do you people not have any work?” I asked looking slightly irritated.
“Mam we are on duty. Our duty is to protect you,” they replied crisply.
Along with the cars they too had to be convinced to go and perform their real duty.
* * *
“There is a party in my honour tonight, I have to go to Delhi for some work. Attend on my behalf,” dad called to tell me.
The party was not just any small gathering a staggering thousand people had collected only to welcome the new neta to “Happyland”. I felt strangely weird about the pomp and show but then I knew I had to respect their emotions and so I didn’t speak anything.
After the party we were driving down at night to go back home when I noticed a group of five children fighting with each other over something. Intrigued I asked the driver to stop and see what was the matter.
“Madame, ek roti hai bacche chaar hain upar se ek kutta bhi paas mein aas lagake khada hai,” my driver spoke in his heavily accented hindi.
I got a little teary because watching them in contrast I remembered the piles of food flooding the party I had just returned from. I knew I had to do something but what.
“Ho jayega na. Please arrange everything and then inform me about it,” I spoke into the phone.
I stood for a while and watched the children sit on the road side and eat the food that was provided to them in peace. I had called the caretaker of the party to send the leftovers to the basti on the way back home. But then this was one basti,God knows how many more are there?
* * *
“Meri beti ki shaadi ke liye kuch paise sahab,” the driver spoke sheepishly.
“Of course of course. Richa please get my wallet,” my father spoke crisply.
“Apki beti kya karti hai,” I asked him sweetly.
“Ma kiya hai. English mein. Padhne mein bahut hoshiyar hai par ab kya batayein aaj kal ke ladko ko isse kahan farak padta hai. Kuch ek lakh maange hain, gareeb aadmi kahan se laaye,” tears got welled up in his eyes.
Father and I just stood frozen there we didn’t know what to say. She was educated and probably even could be earning and yet the likes of dowry hungry men couldn’t care less about her attributes.
“Yeh lijiye aur chahiye toh batana,” my father offered him the cash, after which the driver walked off.
“Why did you give him the money? We should have filed a complaint against the bridegroom,” I screamed at dad.
“For a poor man justice today would mean little than his daughter’s happiness. We will I promise do something but reacting today would have done more damage to him,” my father replied calmly.
* * *
“What time of the day would it be?” I asked my driver.
“Eleven memsaab,” he replied while driving the car through the meandering lanes.
“Yeh bachhe school ke bahar khel kyun rahe hain?” I asked him.
“Teachers aati hi nahi hain,” he replied stoically.
* * *
“Arre driver yahan pe sukha kyun pada hai?” I asked as the car went a little further.
“Memsaab yahan par do tubewell banne the, paise kha gaye log. Sukha pad gaya hai,” he replied stoically.
* * *
“Arre driver yeh ghar itna tuta hua hai phir bhi log yahan reh rahe hain aisa kyun?” I asked watching a dilapidated hut on the sides.
“Memsaab yahan ke ek admi ne ek ladki ki izzat bachani chahiye toh usko gundo ne bahut maara aur uska ghar tod diya. Aaj police ne usko jail mein bhi daal diya hai,” he replied stoically.
* * *
I came back highly dejected from my trip. I knew that things were bad but how bad I couldn’t judge.
“What’s with the look?” father had just come back from Delhi.
“Papa,” I could only go till date when I started to cry.
“Stop crying and see this,” father forwarded a file to me. They were all the government orders he had received from the govt after a lot of efforts.
- Minimum cars to be kept under government officials and politicians in the district rest all to be used as free to and fro vehicles for transport within the area
- Police personnel to be kept at bare minimum for official security rest all to be sent back to their headquarters for law and order maintenance.
- A program where all extra food leftovers at government parties to be distributed among urchins and other needy. A special program where people can arrange free lunches and dinners on rotational basis for underprivileged- government to pay fifty percent cost of it.
- All marriages to be first certified as dowry free only after which the actual ceremony can take place. If anyone found guilty or cheating to be tried under dowry act
- All teachers at government school to first sign at the district majestrate office and then sign back again when leaving
- A survey to be conducted for low water lying areas and rain water harvesting projects to be started. Tubewells at equal distances to be constructed.
- People who have been known to have a vandalism record to be rounded up every month for police verification and also a record of their activities.