Saturday, April 9, 2011

Random Walk - VII

Few days had passed since Nakul met Sheetal. He hadn’t tried to reach her or find out about her. At times he had felt irresistible urge to call her. He was surprised because he hadn’t been so impatient since long. Not since the days when he had felt love for Manasi. The occasional thoughts of Manasi had stopped troubling him long ago, but he had been more at ease when the name ‘Manasi’ popped up in his mind since last few days. “Why do you compare Manasi and Sheetal. Don’t tell me you have fallen in love with Sheetal just after one meeting,” he had scolded himself in joyous anger whenever such thought occurred to him. Studying the cause of his emotions was a matter of interest to him. The impatience is the same, the purpose is the same, but the resulting emotions are poles apart, he wondered. And then they say that ‘all are emotions are basic and have same structure.’

It was a pleasant morning. Early spring rain had lashed the city. The air was filled with the smell of earth as it is after first rain. The earth smell which Nakul had loved since childhood, the smell which had power to take him back to the days of innocence, the days, as his mother fondly recalls, when Nakul often troubled his parents with barrage of incessant ‘whys’ on either being asked to do something or told to believe something. The ‘whys’ hadn’t gone away, but now he only trusted himself for the solution. He sat reading newspaper while listening to songs which were 40-50 years old. He had never found the reason why musical preferences of people are so varied and yet often people with similar value sets have same choice of music. The answer to the ‘why’ in his mind right now was clear though. The social activists’ movement for a bill against corruption had brought fruit and they had won against government, at least it was thought so. Nakul had followed news related to it with great interest and for a moment had considered hoping, like all the supporters, that this movement will mark the beginning of the end of corruption in country. But he was not capable to feel it longer than a moment. What is the root of corruption in government? --he wondered. Is it lack of transparency as it is professed or is it government assuming roles it is never supposed to assume and nobody questioning it? The people, who had joined the movement, had joined because of the injustice they had faced at some moment in their life. They, like every common man wanted to see corrupt politicians beaten for once. Then, why don’t they try to understand the true nature of problem than blindly support? He knew that if he would raise these questions, people would ignore them as being ‘cynical, merely philosophical and non-practical.’ Sheetal won’t, he thought. I would have loved to talk about it with Sheetal. Oh- come on- you need fresh air- to put this obsession named Sheetal out of your head, he told himself. Well, the rain has stopped and a motorbike ride doesn’t seem a bad idea in this weather, he said, smiling.

He drove towards countryside. He had always wanted to have a house at countryside, with mountains nearby so that he could climb those mountains whenever he wants—with the anticipation and excitement of reaching the top and once reached, look down from there. The early spring flowers along the roadside seemed to be dancing with joy. The crop fields had youthful exuberance. Spring was season for growing sunflowers, as it was done in that area in abundance, and they, with their beautiful colour seemed to have joined the party. The shades of the sky varied as one watched from the horizon to overhead. Nature, it seemed was in mood to paint itself and if it was then it was artistry of highest order.

As he crossed the mountains he saw steel factories at distance. The view of rising flames was not one bit less spectacular than the sight of nature. What was more heartening was, at some point, a human mind had made this possible. He suddenly recalled the view of cantilever truss of Howrah Bridge which was a great structural achievement and how it had evoked similar emotions when he first saw it. As he moved ahead, there were people sitting in shades created by polythene bags tied together. They were weaving baskets. It was perfect setting for a socialist to blame the industries in the background. “What use are those industries if people are starving to death?” they would ask and project basket weavers as heroes and industrialists as villains. “The poor will never have a chance” they would say. Who gave Dhirubai Ambani a chance? Who gave Jamshetji Tata a chance? He recalled the story of an English commissioner who in 1911, promised to eat the rail if an Indian, Tata would provide steel for it. In 3 years time, Tatas were providing steel to British for world war and rail. The eyes of the basket weavers on roadside were pleading for help. What is the solution to this poverty? Socialists publishing heart-wrenching stories and pleading for help on behalf of poor or a true laissez faire capitalist system, where government’s role would be limited to law & order, police and military and provide vast opportunities to everyone, to rise; each according to his ability. He understood that the implementation of latter is a complex problem and is not possible unless the underlying political philosophy is understood.

There was a sharp turn ahead and road was narrower. As he turned right a speeding truck was just few meters away. He quickly tried to adjust by turning left. There was water on the road and his motorbike skidded rightwards. The momentum carried the bike 20 meters further. He held on to the handle tightly, looking ahead as his right leg was bruising continuously due to the friction with the road. He barely managed to save his head from the line of the truck but the bike collided with a big stone on the roadside. He lost the control and was thrown away with a jerk. His head collided with ground. Many people gathered as blood had started to flow. He was trying desperately to hold on to any remnant of consciousness as he saw helplessness and inaction in eyes of the people around him. As he lost consciousness and closed his eyes, the last thing he saw was a man wearing a cowboy hat and bright purposeful eyes walking towards him.

P.S. Story obviously doesn't end, but the experimentation with fiction writing ends.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Random Walk - VI

link to part 4: here (relevant for part 6)

link to part 5: here

Tarun got elected as president of student council with overwhelming majority. It came as surprise to nobody. Never before in the history of student council had someone won the election with such huge margin. The overall mood in college was jubilant. Everybody from students to guards was happy. It was perfectly possible that had anyone of them been ask the significance of Tarun as president, they would have either struggled or would have read out his agenda. But Tarun had helped everyone at some point or the other and that was good enough reason. Legally or illegally, morally or immorally; it didn’t matter. He was a friend of public and now he had taken first major step to be their representative in true sense.

Tarun’s agenda was very simple. It had no mention of Tarun’s qualities or reasons why he should be elected. Everybody knew about them secretly. It was agenda devoted completely to students’ welfare, grievance redressal and above all: promise to be representative of ‘student voice.’ The agenda talked about the need of college run by student committees. There was proposal of introduction of committees which didn’t exist till now like PR committee, industry-interface committee and social responsibility committee. Social responsibility committee’s role was explained at length and how it would give a platform to the budding selfless volunteers who want to give back to society. The most controversial of proposal was the introduction of committee which would work with college administration and will have a greater role than currently ascribed to student council. This had caused quite a stir and Tarun’s opposing party had complained against him, claiming that Tarun is making frivolous claims and should not be allowed to mislead students. The claim was rejected, stating that the board has passed resolution to allow greater role of students into administrative activities. Sons of two board members were close friends of Tarun. The current admin-student coordinator resigned. The young lady appointed in his place was relatively inexperienced and was popular among students for all the wrong reasons, but she was in good books of chairman of the board who was a widower. There was no need to question purpose of any committee. PR committee was supposed to bring more awareness among general public about various initiatives of college; industry-interface committee was supposed to bring more job opportunities.

Few days before the election, a social activist had instigated a movement in country by proposing his mode of fighting corruption through a bill. The country was in frenzy and people were supporting the social activist without bothering to understand the bill and possible consequences, like illiterate villagers who run towards a quack who tries to cure the effect and ignore qualified doctor who questions cause. Tarun wasted no time in declaring his support towards the movement and held one-day hunger strike in college. His act received huge media attention.

The day Tarun won election, he returned home early, after few mandatory formalities and a small party. He reached his room and stood watching himself in mirror. He recalled how shy he was and how fellow students used to make fun of him in class 5th. He recalled how his trusted friend had walked away with accolades for the science project which they had presented in a competition, a project which was solely the creation of Tarun. He was in class 7th then. He recalled how he had forced his parents to switch him to a school which was supposed to be bastion of ultra-rich. He himself had provided them with connections to talk about and a letter to be presented to principal. He was in class 8th. He was appointed as head-boy of school in class 9th. The events since that day till today had been as per plan, except the relationship with Sheetal. He saw changes in his own expressions in mirror when he thought of Sheetal. This had not gone according to plan. “Why?” he thought, but shrugged next moment and tried to put that thought out of mind; like he had done, during his initial rise- years when he occasionally questioned himself about his end motive when he was alone. He had stopped questioning himself about such irrelevant questions. He recalled the celebrations when he was elected as President today and the view of city as it appeared when he went to the college roof. “This is my platform”, he had thought.

He felt contempt for those who had immediately sought favours from him, explicitly or implicitly. He scolded himself mockingly and uttered his principle of life: “This is not an age to rule people by force but it is age of ruling people by compassion.” The next two years as president of student council is just the beginning I wanted, he thought, as he sat down to draft list of his candidates for various committees.

to be continued...