Thoughts & Ideas

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Election - Post Script



I was carrying Graham Greene’s “The Quiet American” with me. Mid November was nice weather and I was reading this book sitting on a chair in the shade. Suddenly I heard felt that someone was peering over my shoulder. I turned around to see this unkempt guy who looked like a total anguta chhap, also reading the book and giggling.  I was at that time reading the incident about Americans getting blood tests before getting married. It turned out that though he had only studied till class 5, he had worked somewhere (Delhi or Mumbai) for 20 years in some capacity and was quite fluent in English – spoken as well as written!

Tiger Singh the sub-inspector accompanying me was around 38-40 then, wiry and tough (no paunch at all) but otherwise nondescript. When we reached the village where we spent the night (on the way to the polling booth) Tiger requested the sarpanch to make arrangements for our dinner. It was about 8 pm and the sarpanch sort of demurred and said it was quite late and in turn suggested that he would make atta, baigan etc available and we should make litties for ourselves. Tiger immediately retorted, “Mere Huzur litti khayenge? Roti sabzi ka intazam keejeeye.” I had to sort of coax him into agreeing that litti was ok for me. Then he put the constables to make the litti chokha.

On the way back, we reached the police station where we had to deposit the sealed polling boxes. People and boxes were flowing in from all the nearby booths. By the time we could free ourselves it was about 7 pm and quite dark. We were left to fend for ourselves in making our way back to Patna. We were about 14 kms down a side road from the Patna – Mokama highway. I was getting worried on how or by when we would reach Patna. But within 15 minutes Tiger located a jeep which was travelling down till the highway in which we all piled in. As soon as we reached the highway, he flagged down a passing truck going to Patna. Tiger and myself sat in the driver’s cabin. The constables got onto the top. We reached Dak Bungalow chauraha by 9 pm the same night. Tiger dropped me there, got me to sign some scrap of paper to the effect that all is well, saluted smartly and went away. I did not get a chance to meet him again, though I was in Patna for about 4 more years. I also did not make any effort to meet him. In those days, I had some very screwed up ideas about guys in khakhi.

It is strange how all these memories come back when you think about it!

I regret I was not carrying a camera but hope that technology would develop in the near future so that people’s memories can be projected as pictures! As and when that happens I plan to capture all those memories again in colour!

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