Election time is now a season of its own. There are summers and rains in Madras. But every 4 years, there is an election as well. So then, just how grandly is this season celebrated? It‘s grander than the welcoming of spring (Sakranti). There are stalls selling s(w)eats; there is competition and teams are formed to win this competition.
So, my experiences of this season have not been too pleasant. From the inconveniences of the setting up of these stalls to the blocking of traffic to show their presence, it is very hard to believe how these competitors expect the support of the public while they cause hindrance to normal life. They say it is a democratic way of winning an election. Well, let me then narrate a story of how these celebrations happen:
I walked into a pharmacy and asked for Cetrizine, but the pharmacist could not understand what I was saying. Not because he didn’t know what Cetrizine was, but because he couldn’t hear me, due to the loudspeaker blaring outside. (I finally wrote it down and showed it to him.) What was with the noise? A huge campaigning stall was put up to persuade people to help them win the competition. I had to walk through the bamboo sticks holding on the courtroom of the moment. I wondered how ironic this could be.
In the name of winning the hearts and minds of the citizens, the competitors could actually be the reason for the same failing. So then to understand what goes behind all this, I decided to stick around and eavesdrop on the conversations that the organizers were having. All I could understand from it all was that they were doing it for “The Monk”.
The bamboo handler was discussing with his colleague about how his wife had gone to the government hospital for treatment for one of their kids and was asked for Rs. 150. He had then called the ‘Thalai’ (Head) of this competing team who had apparently then ensured free treatment for them. So the colleague asked if his purpose of being part of this competition team was for the influence. And he replied immediately ‘I do this to earn an income of respect, but at the same time my family is important to me and if I need to use influence I will’.
When the entire celebration came to the end, the people on the dais disappeared into thin air. Then came these men in full white clothes with 2 suitcases and following them were the bamboo, lights, speaker and chair men. But, interestingly the white-clad men kept walking & talking for almost 20 minutes and then I noticed a police jeep pass by. Once they were gone the distribution began.
Negotiations were agreed upon with a bottle of dark brown liquid as the currency. Understandable, after a hard day’s work in the new season. The event ended after a laugh about one of the old colleagues using the pharmacy chairs to sleep with an open mouth
So then I went back and thought about what had happened in the last few minutes. And this is what I realized:
The Pharmacy Store – Though it was aware of about the illegality of the gathering, it is guilty / conscious at the same time about its historical economical illegalities.
The Background Workers of the Competition – People want to work for a respectful income but are stuck in the cycle of dependencies, thus leading them to being permanently involved in the scheme of the not-so-interesting Election Season.
The Disappearing into Thin Air Speakers – I wonder if these are the people who are the real competitors, who would, on winning, take care of their listeners. In fact, not being bothered about the background workers who bring their capabilities to light of how would they handle the others and be leaders
The Suitcase Carriers – These are puppets who try to be powerful and influential but actually have none of it. These are the suppressers of the real workers by taking credit of the actual work done.
The Listeners/Citizens – Did we even see them or hear about them in the entire story? No, because they are not of any importance and whether they like it or not, one of the Disappearing Speakers who is in the competition is going to be their ‘Leader’.
Moral of the Happenings:
Let the Background Workers participate in the competition. They would have experienced the problems and the solutions up close, so they would be the best to be ‘Our Leaders’.
Edited by : Fred Koikaran