01 April 2009

Minister of Death

Shyamsunder paced the crowded airport lounge worriedly as he waited for the Delhi flight. This flight was getting delayed and the passengers were all harried and ill-tempered. The flight should have left the airport at three in the afternoon, but it was already nearing six-thirty. The flight was actually coming from Bangalore, and its departure from there had already been announced. It should have arrived in about an hour. Several hours had passed since that announcement, though, yet there was no sign of the aircraft. Rumours were rife about its fate.

Shyamsunder finally walked up to the counter and enquired once again of the lady who was there, "Madam, when is the Delhi-bound flight expected?"

"I am sorry sir, we have no information yet. The flight has been diverted to another airport due to technical reasons," said the lady politely, and then added, "I can understand your worries, sir, but we are helpless, the situation is beyond our control."

Shyamsunder was impressed by her good nature. He spoke confidingly to her, "In normal circumstances I wouldn't have minded this delay. But today I have my sick father with me. He suffered a heart attack a couple of days ago and doctors have advised him to undergo a bypass surgery. We are taking him to a hospital in Delhi where the date of his operation has been fixed. If we are delayed too much, his life could be at risk."

The counter clerk expressed her sympathies, and said, "We know it causes a lot of inconvenience to passengers when flights are delayed. But what can we do? VIP movements upset all our schedules."

"Oh, so that is it!" said Shyamsunder in consternation and anger, "some rouge of a minister is alighting is he?"

The counter clerk nodded in assent.

"The rascal! If I could get hold of him, I will kick him all the way to hell," Shyamsunder muttered to himself in impotent rage.

He drifted back to where his family was anxiously waiting for the flight. His father lay in a semi-conscious state in a wheel chair with his mother standing beside him in attendance. His sister Vandita stood near-by.

When Shyamsunder came near them, his mother asked, "Beta, when is this flight going to come? I am getting worried, it has been hours since we left home. All this climbing into taxis, walking and sitting cooped up in this wheel chair, is not doing any good to him. You know, the doctor had advised him not to even get up from bed."

Shyamsunder gently assured his mother that the flight was expected anytime now, but his voice carried no conviction. Vandita noticed this and taking her brother aside, asked, "Shyam, you are looking worried. Is anything the matter?"

Shyamsunder shook his head in despair and said, "I am beginning to wonder whether we did the right thing in bringing father here."

"For god's sake, Shyamu, don't say that," cried Vandita, taking her brother's hands in hers and almost in tears.

"No Vandu, I was just speaking to an airport official. Even she had no clue as to when this wretched flight is going to come."

"What is the problem though? Has there been an accident?" Vandita expressed her worst fears.

"Nothing of that sort," said Shyamsunder bitterly, "some foul minister is expected to arrive. Only after that scoundrel has departed is there any chance of our flight coming."

A pall of gloom descended over Vandita as she heard this, but thinking of her already tense and dejected mother she quickly disguised it.

Shyamsunder began to pace the lounge again.

An hour passed thus and then suddenly the sounds of an aircraft landing began to drown all other noises. The faces of the passengers assembled in the lounge lit up with hope. Almost simultaneously two army trunks screeched to a halt at the airport porch and several dozen fully armed commandos in their battle fatigues alighted from these vehicles. They immediately cordoned off the airport and began to roughly push passengers towards the walls. In this free for all Shyamsunder's father's wheel chair almost fell over and when Shyamsunder protested, the soldier who was herding the people towards the wall advanced upon him belligerently, mouthing filthy abuses, and began to rain blows on him with the butt of his stengun.

Aghast, Vandita ran towards Shyamsunder, and taking several of the blows on herself, dragged her humiliated and outraged brother away.

When the soldiers had taken their positions, a dozen or so white Ambassador cars drew up and from each a khadi clad neta and his safari suit clad secretary alighted. They all assembled in the lounge which the soldiers had cleared of all passengers. The secretaries carried large garlands in their hands.

Soon a robust-looking personality toting black sunglasses and attired in spotless khadi kurta-pyjama and gandhi cap emerged out of the airport exit, surrounded by a posse of security personnel.

Immediately the netas assembled in the lounge began to rent the air with shouts of "Hamare poojya raksha mantri Brajmohan Sahai ki jai (Victory to our revered defence minister Brajmohan Sahai)" and "Janata ke dulare, Brajmohanji jindabad (Victory to Brajmohan, the idol of the people)", and they all came one by one, taking the garland from their secretaries, and placed it on the neck of Brajmohan in great servility. Some even spread themselves on the ground in front of the minister.

The idol of the people, the revered defence minister Brajmohanji, who had returned from one of his frequent foreign jaunts, smugly watched all these proceedings and held up his palm in the manner of a Buddha showering blessings on his devotees.

Then they all got into their various cars and led by two soldiers on their motorbikes and flanked by the commandos, the flotilla of cars wend its away out of the airport with sirens blaring and neon lights flashing.

Even as the sirens of the minister's cavalcade faded away, a piteous wail arose from a corner of the airport from Shyamsunder's mother who was stretched over the dead body of her husband. Vandita added her bitter cries to this wail, while Shyamsunder stood nearby, sobbing silently.


हिन्दी ब्लॉग टिप्सः तीन कॉलम वाली टेम्पलेट