Thursday, July 30, 2020

2014 - an important year for noses

My father learned a bit from a vaid, a bit from a doctor and many bits with experience. One of the questions he would ask every patient, as he held their wrists feeling for a pulse, was ‘bahar theek aunda’?

In rustic Punjabi bahar jana means ‘passing motion.’ In my childhood we went outside to defecate and so did the generations before us, so bahar jana, literally going outside, was how the act itself was addressed as.

To him and many ‘doctors’ of his generation, among other things, the quality, quantity, frequency, effort involved, etc. of what human body excreted helped determine what might be wrong with the body. So, they asked ‘bahar theek aunda’, ‘are motions ok’?

‘Doctor sahab’ has retired now after nearly half a century of practice. But many of his old timers still come to ask for ‘taapharan,’ a concoction he prepared which cleansed the body unlike any other laxative one can find on market today. Taap-haran, Fever cleanser. In their words, half a glass of it made them feel as light as a feather (after a few rounds to you know where).

Mother cow eats in her trough in a farmer’s care. The brahmin picks the gift and gives a fresh coat to his courtyard. Mother cow scavenges in the garbage of the city dwellers. The brahmin makes a nose at her and what she excretes on the roads.

A veterinary doctor checks the condition of mother cow’s excreta to diagnose what ails her.

Till 2014, we had many an expert critic, many an expert doctor, who smelt the stink that Mother India lived through. Every moment of their existence they diagnosed what was wrong with her and they prescribed and shouted the solutions every which way.

Since 2014 many well-meaning noses have lost the ability.

Mother India still awaits taapharan.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Of prayers and wishes...

It is a comfortable sofa and he has his feet up on the center table. As the movie finishes, he switches the channel to news.

“In this video you can see the police beating the farmers who were protesting their evacuation from the plot. The farmer couple consumed pesticide and are now battling for their life in the civil hospital.”

He changes to another news channel.

“Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek have tested positive for Covid. They have mild symptoms and have been admitted to a top hospital in Mumbai.”

He opens his twitter account and posts.

“Get well soon Big B. Our prayers and wishes are with you.”


Sunday, July 12, 2020

Bail. No Bail.

Sahab, all I did was provide voter lists, trucks to bring men to the city, and shared my grief and anguish at the murder of our beloved PM with them. What do they mean by instigating a pogrom?

Police – thumbs up.

Judge: BAIL.

Your Honor, I teach tribal history at a national university.

Police – threat to national security.                                           

Judge – No Bail.

Sahab, all I did was travel around our great country and deliver a speech (or few). What do they mean by leading a demolition?

Police – thumbs up.

Judge: BAIL.

Your Honor, we asked to end curfews on women in hostels. No more cages.

Police – corrupting minds. Dangerous.

Judge – No BAIL.

Sahab, what do they mean I was drunk and drove over a sidewalk? I know what Being Human means.

Police – thumbs up (& tears of joy).

Judge: BAIL

Your Honor, we were managing a communications group related to a peaceful protest.

Police – provoking minds. Dangerous.

Judge – No BAIL.

PS - a friend says be grateful, 'No Bail' is better than an encounter.

(fiction mirrors truth... so I write fiction.)

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Vikas aur Chowkidaar

Many chowkidaars have been looking for and looking after Vikas.

Some for sixty years.

Some for six years.

Some for six days.

Decades long search brought the first group to the gates of Vikas. Now they guard the swanky commercial complexes and premier high-rises, prime symbols of Vikas. They guard it from what is outside those gates, from what they saw on their journey here, and what they have left behind from where they came, the un-Vikas, which needs to be hidden behind walls when we say Namaste to those who don’t know how to say it.

The second group found it six years back and they have been guarding it with their souls. Each day they trade a part of their soul in its protection. Some at 8pm, some at 9pm, some at 10pm; for an hour or two, every day they guard Vikas at their respective primetime, super-primetime, ultimate-super-duper primetime. They guard it against the external forces – the Chinese, the Pakistanis, sometime even the Nepalis, but more than that they guard it against the internal evil – the tukde-tukde gang, the choor-choor gang, and many other such gangs.

The third group have been on duty ever since the freedom-at-midnight. Vikas isn’t their prime concern. It hasn’t been for long. It became their concern only six days ago – when it came in their way and ambushed them.

Epilogue - A temple. A chowkidar. Vikas.


Sukhdev Singh is milking a buffalo when I call him. We are speaking after a long gap. His voice carries the same cheerful energy I remember....