அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் கட்டுரைகள்

Shoba's Slap!

(He was not coherent, for he was but a 'Chokra' - but there was the note of truth running right throughout. On the whole he was convincing and answered all my questions without the least hesitation. Here I present his 'talk' for your perusal,)

Haven't I introduced him as yet to you! Well, well! he happens to be but a 'Chokra' with ten chips per month, - so an unimportant feller! But remember, he is a 'Chokra' to a 'Congress Boss' - a top-man - and one who has been assigned the role of a Warwick, the King Maker. This being the election season, the 'Congress Boss' has become extra-important and the 'Chokra' says, he had a busy time - and a profitable time too!

My relationship with the Chokra? Well, you know this - a Rambler has got to get into contact with all and sundry; so why not with a 'Chokra'?

And it is because of these contacts, that one gets the 'inside news and intimate views' of the Bosses. Judge them not from their public utterances, there they present their 'saintliness' - Satan sits within closed doors, and 'Chokras' have got the rare opportunity of seeing them there.)

Master rose up very early this morning and after the usual bath and refreshment gave me strict instructions - not to allow anybody to enter, without prior permission. That was unusual - for Master was fond of getting into contact with as many people as possible - and enjoyed the 'chit-chat'. That was according to him, part of his duty. "What do these ministers do? Files! Files! Files! Always going through these files, changing 'commas' and inserting 'semi-colons' - issuing corrections or re-drafting orders! And can a party thrive and flourish if leaders are locked up behind the desks? It is left to men like me, to meet partymen, tickle them up, cajole them, cater promises and carry on the party! But for me Bolonath would have left the party - and what a loss would it have been for the party! But for Bolonath, the dinner that delighted the Deputy from Delhi, could not have been a success at all! And Bolonath was naturally irritated when the Minister concerned unwitingly denied his request! It seems, the Minister stated, that Rules do not permit! What a strange explanation! The Ministers are there to frame rules and regulations! And they are amply paid for it!

I had to argue with Bolonath for a whole hour, cajole him and soften him!

The case of Karim Khan is another illustration. He was a Leaguer of the first rank - refused to have any contact with the Congress, at all! And how is it, that today he dons on a Khai Cap—well, the effect of my 'handiling'.

Master used to speak about such contacts - as the means by which the party was kept going!

So, when now, he asked me not to allow anybody to enter, without permission, I was naturally surprised.

I took my seat - sat on the stool - outside the room; the door was kept closed.

Pot-belly Parankusam - that is how Master used to talk about him - not of course in his presence - came! I refused admission!

"Get away! You fool! You have the audacity to bar my way! I will thrash you for this. Get away'.

"Sir! Please, spare, poor me! It is Master's order".

"Master's Order! You say it is Master's order! And who is this Master you refer to? That feller, in there? The parasite! The sucker! Don't you know that that Master of yours is but a hireling; we feed him and clothe him! We actually pay his rents! He 'masters' over you, but can't master over us, you know. Idiot! Get away, before I smash your swollen head!"

"Master! Master! Please! Save me!"

"Parankusam! How dare you act in such a way? This is hooliganism, nothing but that."

"Oh oh! When have I become a hooligan, and you a gentleman! I was wrong, of course, in thrashing this poor 'Chokra' - I should have done that to you - and I intend doing it now."

"Master! Shall I call the police?"

"Never mind! I know how to tackle Parankusam - though he is 'tipsy'."

"I am tipsy! Yes! Why not? You got more than two hundred for getting that permit for me - and who could do anything to me - I have law on my side, and this stick in my hand."

"Come to the point! What brings you here? I have no time to spare - got to work. Be brief and to the point".

"Why haven't you selected me as a candidate?"

"Aren't you selected? Well, that is news, and good news too!"

"So you gloat over the fact - is it! You are happy at that, is it?"

"Naturally! I do not want that ingratitude should be rewarded! When I approached you last month for a small help - for the sake of the party - you brushed me aside! Now you come running along to my door! Ha! Ha! That is fine! You are not selected, because the Selection Board finds you not fit! Need I be plain and savage! Of course I was fool enough to recommend your name - not of course to oblige you - but because Bagirathi insisted on that! The Board knows too much about you, hence they have left you out."

"What is it that I hear? You say, you have recommended me, and it is the Board ...."

"Yes! The Board is the final authority as you ought to know".

"And what made this Board take such a foolish, and haughty step?"

"Ask the Board members, if you could approach them! Or, better still, ask Soori!"

"Soori! That black-market bandicoot? What has this Soori got to do here?"

"My dear fellow! You know nothing about planning! The Board has got a plan! I should not divulge the secret. But for old time's sake, I will. Soori is to become the President!!"

"Soori, to become the President! That is impossible!!"

"With 'ten lakhs' earmarked, for that special work, is it impossible? Soori has promised to back up all the candidates, and that on two conditions - number one you should be sent out - number two, he to be placed on the chair!"

"And you have all agreed".

"I haven't! But the Board decides! And what else can the Board do? The party should succeed. I had very great confidence in you - in fact. I approached the High Command and assured them of success! But, you backed out! You said that you would not finance the party! I had to ask the Board to make other arrangements and they did! Soori was willing! In fact his plan is with me - to be sent to the Board."

"Well, be reasonable and avoid rash conclusion. Last time I did finance the party and we had a thumping majority ..."

"And as President you got the golden opportunity of dining with all the dignitaries and 'shake hands' with more than a dozen ministers".

"As if all that is worth the five lakhs I had to spend, then?"

"I am poor in mathematics, but a bit strong in logic! You spent five, sure, but not from your pocket! You earned that and more, and who knows not that you were able to earn much just because of the 'help' rendered by this poor fellow! Why should there be any talk at all about such matters? Let there be no more washing of the dirty linen. You had had your day - and this time you are not willing. Why then should you question the wisdom of the Board in selecting Soori?"

"But you know this much - Soori is the most dangerous rival I have got, in the business world! Were he to become prominent, my prospects become dim".

"I am really sorry. But what to do? The party cannot take into consideration all these matters. For the party, one thing is as good as another! What difference does it make?"

"So you are determined to ruin me!"

"I won't put it that way. We are not prepared to lose the liberality of Soori! The consequence may be dangerous, from your point of view. But from the party's?"

"You are vultures! Cruel, scheming vultures!"

"Well, when you are happy, you call us Eagles! And when angry you call us as vultures. Moods, dear Parankusam change the language utilised."

"Soori has also entered the 'Contract' field."

"You were till now, the uncrowned monarch in that domain! And the domain did offer you rich dividends!"

"As if you did not fleece me....."

"A part of the lot, I agree..."

"And now, you are roping in this Soori!"

"The Board had to get someone! Soori or Poori! do you mean to say, that because you have refused to shoulder the responsibility of winning the elections, the party should sit with folded hands? The party should win and flourish!"

"But you were saying all along, that the prestige of the party has risen so much, that victory is sure and certain".

"I said that - and say it now too! It is just because of the fact that the prestige of the party has risen much, that the moment Parankusam backs out, we have Soori stepping in!"

"So, that is the kind of influence you talk about - not popular support!"

"Why should anybody bother about high-sounding principles, when he has easy means at his command?"

"Your propagandists have been thundering all these days - the masses are behind our party - victory is ours!"

"Well, their conclusion is correct - perhaps in their enthusiasm they have placed a wrong argument."

"Don't be flippant. The plain truth is, your party having lost its hold over the masses, is busy roping in men like Soori - to tap their sources and purchase prestige!"

"This time it is Soori - so the truth becomes clear to you! Last time when you played Soori, you did not perceive the truth, in as clear a manner!"

"So you are a set of merciless men - and your machinations are day by day becoming more and more dirty. You have no principles, no policy. Do not think that the public knows nothing about your schemes - and nefarious deeds".

"You have been busy reading some of these D.M.K. journals, I am sure".

"I never read journals, you know that. I have enough account books to read and check. I am speaking the plain truth, that is all".

"But not the whole truth, I am sue. The party in power, dear Parankusam, has got to keep power! Power needs powder. We get it from where it is available. Perhaps you are now in some financial strain. Can't afford to spend so much. Soori seems to have amassed much ....."

"Seems to be .... Yes! Not real! He is thriving on over drafts and deferred payments. Don't think that he is a Birla or Bajaj. He has crooked ways - some day he would be landing himself in difficulty - even danger."

"But, when the Board approached him, he readily agreed to spend even ten."

"that's just to please you. I am sure, he won't be in a position to finance so much".

"You are mistaken. He says this quarter alone, he is to export some stuff - I don't know which - worth some forty lakhs."

"A mere forty lakhs! Why, I am exporting goods worth nearly a crore this quarter."

"You have got the necessary order, I am sure?"

"Yes, of course. I have the necessary orders."

"I don't know the full facts, as yet. But I won't be surprised if some changes take place."

"You are just threatening me ...."

"Not at all. Soori was saying something about Exports and Imports. Business talks always irritates me you know. So I did not ask him about the details."

"Don't stab me on the back .... please. And if that is the plan .... well, I promise to reconsider."

"Shall I then postpone sending Soori's plan to the Board."

"Soori's plan need not be sent at all ..... Give me a week's time ...."

"A week! My goodman, every hour counts - and the D.M.K. is every day banging. The Board is sending a messenger every day. In fact, it was just to avoid meeting that messenger that I instructed the Chokra not to allow anybody, without my permission. As a matter of fact, the plan would have already reached head quarters, but for Bagirathi's intervention. She says that you should not be deposed."

"Bagirathi knows something about this Soori affair".

"Everything! In fact, Soori is anxious to become the President, just to taunt Bagirathi, you know."

"What has Bagirathi got to do, in this affair"?

"Oh! You simpleton! You know nothing. Bagirathi is a great admirer of yours! She used to champion you at all places. One day it seems, Bagirathi met Shoba! You know shoba! Soori's wife! Well, as usual, Bagirathi began her 'archanas' about you, and Shoba, silly woman she is, seems to have stated, that anybody could become the President if only he spends some money. 'No' argued Bagirathi. "Bet?" challenged Shoba. And Bagirathi in anger, issued a challenge. "If next time Parankusam does not become the President, slap me on the cheeks, publicly!"

"My God! Things have gone to such lengths! I know nothing about this".

"Soori is ordinarily disinterested in politics as you know. It is to please Shoba, he is now neck deep in politics. Bagirathi is terribly afraid - wanted to have a heart to heart talk with you ...."

"I saw her the other day. at the Exhibion......"

"You fool! Do you mean to say that she would fly into your arms - at such a place! She is terribly worried and has requested me not to send Soori's plan, without consulting you".

"Shoba to slap Bagirathi on the cheeks! Never! Those checks are meant - not or slaps! Dear me! I have been a fool all along. Shoba should be humbled. Tear off Soori's plan! I am ready to have a second term as President"

"Is it? Then, I have to be in a hurry. I should rush to head quarters. When is the first mail due to start?"

"Take my Buick! Tarry not. But before starting, inform Bagirathi".

"Bagirathi would jump with joy! In fact she would even insist on, herself coming along with me .... to know things at first hand."

"Would it be better if I myself were to come along with you to meet the Board."

"That would be fine! We shall start - eight sharp!"

(Home-Land, 01-03-1959)