February 2, 2007

The Common Man

The alarm crowed. A lusty king of the farmyard cock-a-doodle-do. He shut the mobile up. One hour and five minutes was all he had before his day began. He would steal five minutes from that. Look the other way, he told that frowning creature in his soul. I do it all the time. A little corruption. A little bribery. I negotiate with the world 24 /7. So why not an extra 5 minutes of sleep? he told himself and buried his head under the pillow. And so began another day in the life of an Indian.


He had seen corruption in every sphere of his life. News of corruption had followed his life as an Indian way better than the cops followed the trail of the murderers in this country. Be it the Kirana storeowners who made huge profits at the cost of unsuspecting consumers or be it the police officials collecting exhorbitant fines for no reason. Everyday he wore a helmet and no police official checked. A few days back he did not wear one, and was made to part with 200 bucks. He knew that no amount of complaints would get him justice, and did not set out to fight- he was a common man, in a simple job and wished to live a simple life. As a college student, even he had signed that he was present, later, while he was actually absent. That was also- a little corruption. When his little brother would not listen, then he would tempt him with a chocolate. That was also- a little bribery. But as he stepped out into the real world- working at the job, buying things for the house, applying for telephone and (later) internet connections, getting electricity complaints redressed and so on, did he come to know corruption and bribery as though they were his family members.

He tossed on the bed at these thoughts and buried his head deeper this time, under the warm pillow.

The pillow was extra-ordinary. The man with the sleepy eyes had sold it to him, at what seemed to be a cheap price. But who knows? He might have made a neat profit. A little corruption again. But hey, it was okay. At least there was peace in the darkness of the pillow.

Aaaah...what peace! In such bliss, he could only forget all woes of his monotonous life, and remember the graceful curves of the young woman he had met a month back. She was selling flowers on the fringes of the busy road. He had just got down from the taxi with a tampered meter, having paid the money without bad-mouthing with the paan-chewing taxi driver.

He had an important purpose now- to attend his colleague's reception. Thus, avoiding feel-bad factors was necessary. And first and foremost, he had to buy a bouquet. Desperately looking for a florist, his eyes fell on God’s most beautiful creation- sitting and selling God’s fragrant creations, even while the vehicles honked and swerved frantically.

Her eyes glowed and her face and exposed neck, shone radiantly in the bulb light, and partly, in the vehicular beams of light. As he neared, he felt his pulse racing. He asked,” One bouquet please”. She looked at the new customer, nodded, almost winked and started to briskly make a fresh bouquet. He watched her eagerly gathering gladiola and roses, arranging them in a beautiful way and then suddenly asking him,” That’s okay? Or need more?”

He was staring at her and was suddenly taken aback, but quickly composed himself and nodded. Her voice sounded like the tinkling of bells. She was using scissors to size up the bottoms of the stems, wrapping silver foil and thread, and keeping a silent smile all through. He liked watching her collar bones protrude and show the soft hollows in her neck, while she was zestfully working with her hands.

When it was done, she handed it over and he felt the soft (deliberate?) touch of her fingers. “ Seventy rupees Sir”, she said and smiled. He took out a hundred rupee note and handed it to her. He refused the change she immediately held out.

He waited a few moments to see her face flushed and to see her extreme happiness, but he saw nothing. He just saw her knowing glance- he just saw that she made so much money and more. Perhaps she wanted more, because she was capable of giving much more. Maybe she did. For men paying her much more than what she spent on her flowers. He turned away before thinking much more, and resumed his purpose. But the encounter with her, he would not forget for a long time.

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10 comments:

  1. catastrophically ricked, amusingly richen .... the story presents as supposedly a common man ... (but although with a handsome job ... :D) .... i have read many stories and probably few stories of satire ... this was one of a kind ... well the presented an enigma ... i would say ...

    anyways ... brilliant calligraphy (and scribbling) ....
    nice work .. keep it on ...

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  2. Indeed ashona111, this is the most brilliant calligraphy I have seen. You have been charged with an attempt to murder of the English language. You have a right to remain silent. Anything and everything you say will be used against you!

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  3. While reading this I was consistently thinking about him... And I was wondering if it is a real story or a fictional one....

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  4. ..i also write sometimes..you can check out if you get time..
    http://riggs-riggs.blogspot.in/2014/12/a-dream_16.html

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  5. lovely piece of writing..the comman man beautifully sketched through your words..the comman man falls in love but turns away from that..coz he knows he cannot afford to have her..how brutally true..
    ..the comman man knows one existence ..that is adjustment..and that is the truth

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  6. hmm , http://goo.gl/4dGtSy

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  7. Thanks so much everyone! Plz keep reading & commenting on my posts! :)

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  8. Nice writing. During reading I feel as if I am a part of it.Thanks for giving the feelings.
    Regards
    Ashish
    http://www.myhub.co.in/

    ReplyDelete

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