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June 24, 2013

There was no one at the party office when Charan went there at the appointed time, carrying the newspaper, the mouthpiece of the party,  to spend his time. He often sat at the office for long hours waiting for some people to come. Even if one or two trickled in from the slum across the road, it was to watch TV that had been donated by a party loyalist, a local promoter, who had been  in the good books of the local party MLA.  He thought ruefully that when the party came to power, the attendance at the party office had thinned as the members had realized the importance of going to the houses of the leaders instead of coming to the party office. But there was a welcome exception. Every day around six Tarun came to the party office and spent a good deal of time. He returned from his work and sat at the party office. The very first thing he did was to order a few cups of tea for the two of them. On most of the days there were only the two of them and they would talk about many things being reported in the papers.

Tarun was a liberal and did not approve of the way the government was pushing for many things and earning the ire of the people. He said that the party should make the government understand that policies, which clashed with the interests of the common people, would negatively impact the support base of the party. He was willing to show some ways by following which the government could fulfill its obligations without jeopardizing the interests of the people. Charan had great respect for Tarun who was very educated and many cadres in the party respected him too. But he could not help smiling inwardly as he heard Tarun wanting to give his suggestion to the party leaders as he knew that his opinion would never be sought by them.

He had been very much exited from the morning and had also prepared himself for all the strain he would have to take. On that day Charan had come a bit earlier as there was going to be a meeting of the party workers. He received the message from the local MLA of the party that he would like to interact with the workers of the party regarding a meeting of the CM in the area for the development of an industrial estate. When Charan first read the written message of the MLA approved by the president of the local unit, he could not help thinking about Tarun. He was against the way the government was grabbing land by force. But inwardly he was elated that after a long time the office, which was a hub of activity when the party was in the opposition, would bustle with the presence of some dedicated party workers. They had stopped coming to the party office and would meet the leaders they wanted to meet at their residences. He was friendly with everybody who would frequent the office during the days of dissent and turbulence. He had to go to jail several times and felt proud of the sacrifice he had made. The government of the rival party was hostile and would never miss out on an opportunity to send them to prison.

Once when he was returning home at the dead of the night, he was manhandled by some thugs of the ruling party. They threatened him saying that he should not go beyond limits. That day he had been a part of an agitation against the visit of a minister. There was an impressive turn out of people responding to the call of the leader of the opposition party. They were full of verve and looked resolute to put an end of the anarchy of the government that had been irresponsible enough to be involved in a police firing that had claimed the lives of a number of innocent people including some women and children. As they turned violent, the minister had to leave the venue without inaugurating a club meant for senior citizens on the advice of the police who feared for his life. Curiously many of the protesters were old men who demanded a statement from the minister denouncing the act of police firing and insisting on his resignation as he was the minister in charge of the police.

Charan remembered every second of the time the people had spent after they came to the party office from where the leader of the local unit had addressed the people. Then it seemed to be the world for him that would set the pace for change. That day he had been impassioned and did not hesitate to fight for the cause of the party with a determination to die even if the police fired on them. As the incident of police firing had already caused the government a great deal of embarrassment and it had been cornered by the orchestrated opposition of all the parties, the police did not do anything other than providing a cover for the leader. They did not even arrest the people who had gone too far. That day Tarun found the men coming out of the depth of darkness and pouncing upon him. They allowed him to go with a stern threat. That night as he lay in bed he could not help thinking about the murders that left the area stained during the last few weeks.

Charan felt restless thinking about the arrival of the people with whom he had fought for the cause of the party that finally brought it to power. He thought about the way he would conduct himself after a long time and try to make the people at home. He dusted the chairs, the table and the books of the party office. In his enthusiasm to play the perfect host from the party that stood for a cause, he took out a book written by a prominent leader of the party and read some lines. He sniffed at the book and coughed as it had been covered with layers of dust. Then he ran his eyes around trying to understand what he should do. He then went out and gave instructions to the owner of the tea stall across the road that he should be ready to do brisk trade as several cups of tea would be ordered for the party workers and the leader who was a tea addict.

Charan could not but feel worried when it was a few minutes past six as the meeting was to be held at five thirty. He took out his phone and contacted the leader. The phone of the leader kept ringing but there was no response. He could not understand anything and smoked a bidi trying to find a clue to the matter.  A little later his phone rang and he was told by the secretary to the MLA that the leader would not come due to an emergency. No sooner did he hang up in a distracted manner than his face beamed at the sight of some people entering the party office. As he hurried forward to welcome them, one of them threw himself on him and pushed him to the ground,shouting that he was a stooge of the MLA. He did not know most of the men and could not understand why they had suddenly turned violent. As he lay on the floor of the party office after some blows were rained on him, they went around smashing the furniture of the office. His heart ached and he wanted to stop them with every ounce of strength he still had left in him. Bu a searing pain in his head and in his jaws did not allow him to speak. The men shouted the name of a leader showing their loyalty to him and he could understand slowly that they were a dissident group of the party itself.

After they had ransacked the office for some time, they left like a hurricane. Suddenly he could feel a hand on his shoulder. He looked up and saw the face of the son of a party veteran who had been a close friend of his. He thrust a five hundred rupee note in his hand saying in a polite tone that he was helpless and that he should get a checkup done by a doctor. There was a look of contriteness on his face but it could not hide the feeling of his casualness that he had to conform to. In spite of the excruciating pain, he could not but feel pity for the young man who had to sell his sense of justice to the man he followed for the sake of his survival.

A little later Tarun entered the party office clutching a package of samosas that he had bought as he wanted to celebrate his birthday with his best friend at the best place where he could feel secure enough to guard his convictions against many of the evidences he did not feel inclined to accept. As he stood stupefied at the sight of the things upturned inside the party office, Charan burst into tears at the sight of his friend who had always been by his side. Tarun dropped the package from his hand and let out a scream that sounded like that of a vulture hovering over a corpse. Despite everything that he was capable of, he could not tell the innocent man lying sprawled on the floor that the entire plan of making this attack was made by the MLA to contain the growing wave of dissidence against him at his house in the very presence of some men loyal to him including Tarun.

  1. Very Intense Indeed..It really shows the true political picture of India..Really it is a dirty job..No wonder it is called “Raajneeti”

    • Yes Harsha the arena of politics is gradually becoming murkier but we have to learn from their tricks and try to change it with our goodness. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Politicians are such a dirty lot of tricksters that they can stoop to any obnoxious levels to save themselves from justifiable criticism or boost their images. This is what’s going on in the country.

    • Right you are. Whenever we hear the term Politics, we are filled with indignation because of the sordid tricks being played by a section of leaders. They do not hesitate to play with the trust reposed in them. Thanks for your supportive comment.

  3. beautifully written kajal… its easy to visualise what u write and you hold attention throughout the story.. not mentioning much about the politics n politicians, i would like to commend you for brilliant penmanship.

    Keep writing, n keep us engrossed 🙂

    • Thanks for your sweet comment. This means a lot to me because you are a writer with a difference, one who looks deeper into the core of things.

  4. The ironies and paradoxes of contemporary politics are eloquently brought out. Wonderful tale.

    • Thanks for your appreciation of my attempt to present one of the sordid facets of contemporary politics.

  5. Good plot, very engaging read!

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