Summers in Orissa are marked by erratic cuts in electricity; often disrupting normal life. It sure did disrupt mine this morning when I had to miss out on the repeat telecast of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. which I had missed out on yesterday. That’s like missing the missed.
I was feeling extremely bored and then…….
“How could you do this without asking me?”
That voice seemed to belong to Mr. Misra, a usually cool campaigner, who was now attempting to exercise his vocal chords at maximum amplitude.
Normally I would not have done this but since I was also getting bored to the max I decided to check it out.
The scene in front of Mr. Misra’s house was as follows:
Mr. Misra was balking at two government workers who I presumed belonged to the electricity department because of the loop of thick wire that one of them hung by his arm and pointing again and again to a branch of a tree and a big jack-fruit adorning it. Mr. Misra was quoting from the Gita and the Constitution simultaneously about justice, truth and possession. Any gaps in his little speech were appropriately punctuated by counter-arguments from both the workers. And spectators to this debate were about ten people including Mr. Bhandari ,another aged neighbour, a beggar on a wheelchair and myself. Judging by the noise (and publicity) that was being created more on-lookers were on the cards also.
Mr. Mishra: How can you cut a branch of a tree that grows on my garden without asking me?
Worker 1: You were not there. So we cut it. Anyways you should thank us for not cutting the entire tree down.
Worker 2: Your tree was hindering this wire. Plus the little branch had begun twining about these wires and we were getting regular complaints of short circuiting.
Worker 1: We even cut down other things if people come in between our job and us.
Mr. Misra: Like what? You will cut us down someday!
Worker 2: No just the mains wire that gives you current. That should suffice.
Worker 1: Sir, we can’t bicker with you the whole day now? We have many wirings to examine and you can see it’s not getting any cooler.
Worker 2: Yeah, Shambhu carry this jack-fruit along. It belongs to us now that we have cut it. And also the branch. We will make some fundings out of that branch.
Mr. Misra: No one takes anything away from here. That tree is mine and whatever it bears is mine. You scoundrels had no right to touch it. Now you want to take the fruit away?
Worker 1: Okay then you pay us and keep the branch. But the jack-fruit is definitely ours. You can take a little piece if you want.
Mr. Misra had had enough of this. He did not say anything this time and went into the house. And he came back smiling. He said,”Let’s go inside and settle this out over a cup of tea.”
Wow! Now that was a paradigm shift. What had caused him to undergo this benevolent transformation? Some Gandhigiri trick or what?
The workers went inside after looking slightly disconcerted though. I guess the show was over. It would be impolite for anyone of us to go in just to witness the deal.
Just then Mr. Misra came out and told Mr. Bhandari, “I have called my friend. He is a Senior Officer in Electricity Department. I will strip these scoundrels of their jobs for sure today.”
Having revealed this bit of information he ran inwards.Then Mr. Bhandari and I both started to leave.
“Isn’t that the branch and fruit that these people were quarreling about?” , said Mr. Bhandari.
Near the end of the lane, the lame beggar wheeled on as fast as he could with the branch that held the jack-fruit attached to the support of his chair. And then he turned into another lane and out of our sight. I guess it’s his now.