India’s Believe it or Not

Posted on 05 Jul 2007 in Features/Unpublished, Short Story | 2 comments


Yesterday was a Saturday and I was informed by my neighbour that it was “Maha Shivratri” too. I was still figuring out if this divine detail could possibly distort the identity of my weekend, when the elderly ‘Aunty’ pushed herself closer to me with obvious effort reaffirming that the factoid was not dropped aimlessly. Softly, she repeated, “You know, today is Shiv Ratri, and Mrs Gupta has been blessed!”
I consciously awakened my vegetative self and decided to eject out after the next few sentences. She added, “This year she will truly encounter something special from Shiva.”
With contempt I added,”So the Tandav will become Lasaya”. I laughed alone as she continued, now intently looking at the white wall with folded hands. I accepted that in this state perhaps she cannot gauge my faith or humour quotient. Calmly, looking at the white wall with folded hands she purred,” There is a Shiv Ling in their fridge, actually in the freezer.”
I wanted to laugh, but her proximity and her devout facial expression made it seem improper if not wrong. Like an unsure spectator, I was trying to ascertain the expression she expected but before I could react she was describing how it was a perfect Shiv Ling in depths of the freezer.

In no time, a grand plan seized my mind, I was smiling. I had the perfect experiment. Sitting opposite her placid face I envisioned, “Breaking News”, right from the corridors of my colony.
I so wanted to see how an ordinary Godrej fridge and a not so ordinary freezer became extraordinary and blessed in a few hours.

Thus, the ‘Great Indian Tamasha’ began. Within half an hour of Mrs Jain’s narration of Mrs Gupta’s fridge there were some 6 odd OB vans of national and Ncr channels parked in my otherwise mundane middle class colony. The quiet evening came alive.

The colony chowkidaars left there evening chai to stand by the snazzy satellite dishes. Kids left the daily dose of evening cricket for reality games. Housewives decided to visit the Gods with milk a little later, as they dressed to give a quick byte. Retired uncles stood with the OB Vans and chatted with the drivers and technicians wanting to know the agenda so that they can trasmitt it to other enthusiasts.

In no time some young chaps were appointed for crowd control. They loved the role reversal. Their parents loved the fact that their lads could make it to the fame diary.
Colony dogs too felt the buzz and decided to oblige and bark at the strangers, lights and the camera lens. Mobiles were ringing, relatives were being called. Rooh Afza and chai was being served.
It was vauderville at last.
Smug reporters sat in their Airconditioned chambers as the camera persons set shop , waiting for the Star entry.
I saw Mrs Jain standing on her colony gate guiltily. Mrs Gupta was standing unfazed and proud on her door. I noticed that she was wearing a tanjore silk in Delhi ‘s heat. Mr Gupta and her two boys squeezed themselves at the entrace. The cameras stood facing the house. Camera men were shouting pointing at the house. Mrs Gupta, Mr Gupta, Prateek Gupta and Prashant Gupta smiled picture perfect everytime a camera lens moved.

Inside my four walls i could already see the ‘Breaking News’ sign and the ticker running on various channels. I could hear anchors shouting ”And lets take you to our reporter stnding there for the latest updates.” I would jump and watch from the window when I thought the teleivision live ticker was not alive enough. And would go and see the digital circus whenever I wanted on Prime time news. I had created news by a phone call. May be contemporary history too. Just before my power could corrupt me more the electricity eluded and we were in pitch darkness. The Satellite dishes had back up power but Mrs Gupta’s fridge did not. There was a flurry of action as every one ran to get a glimpse of the Shiv Ling. Rporerts were scarmbling. Cameramen were pushing the Big hood with a small light attached inside the Godly freezer. As reporters were describing the gravity of the miracle. The perfect shape and body. How sturdy it was. How no one in everyday life had seen ice depositing like this in a freezer. Bites were taken Eyewitnesses were pushed inside the Godly freezer and they shook there heads in darkness and announced there enlightened stae after they saw inside the freezer. Outside people said “Good now why go to Badrinath.”
In the middle of this divine narrative suddenly someone shrieked and started crying. Mrs Gupta was crying inconslably. TV camera turned from God to the lady of the house. She declared ceremonoiusly weepy that Shiva would melt on Maha Shiva ratri due to the power cut. A too intelligent for her boots reporter said” if this is God a mere power cut should not effect it”. Mr Gupta said the occurence has to be valued, one cannot let the Shiv Ling melt it is unauspicious on Maha Shiv Ratri. That was it. Appeals from reporter. people. Temple authorities children and adults started pouring. Sms campaigns were launched. Tickers roared, “Vote on 8733 if you think the Shiv Ling should be saved.” Shiela dikshit was told to directly talk to the DVB for immediate power . Opposition MLAs gave bites and declared how if BJP would have handled the situation with respect for Hindu sentiments.
An hour passed. And the routne loadshedding ended. Camera persons and reporteres ran for the Godly freezer. They swirled their lenses away thinking why end a religious day on a unholy note. Respecting the sentiments of the devout, the ungodly freezer was left alone and they ended after 8 hrs by offering milk in the near by temple.

There was a fridge and there was a freezer. I just so wish I had made that call.


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2 comments

  1. neha / July 19th, 2007 14:12

    i can see this inspires strong emotion..and i know why..but to be honest if we know who we are..do we even care what they want to package us as..its not like we are giving in any time soon:)

  2. freewill / July 29th, 2007 7:59

    it depends on how u define packaging dear….who says it ends on mere clothes.
    han?

e