So you want to be a Minister! Or, are Grapes Sour?
the dreaded phone call came last Saturday. An intellectual cadre
(yup! there are all sorts -- political, cultural, sports, filmi,
TV...) of the ruling party rang to inform that my dreams had
caught the imagination of the powers that be, and inquired whether
I would accept an invitation to join 66 or so others. They were
all queuing up to fill up the vacant posts after the imminent
downsizing of the much-criticised colossal cabinet that will
that precise moment I was in bed (these cadres do make it a
habit to get up early), the receiver hooked to the crook of
my neck. I was reading a newspaper; I won't tell you which one.
For if it is John-o-kantha; I would probably be 'charged' as
a freedom fighter. Sadly it has come to that. If it were In-ki-love,
I could be labelled as a Razakar. If I perused Bore-er kagaj,
surely the tag of AL would be befitting. If it is The Ink Al
one could perhaps not complain if I was dubbed a BNP-ite. It
could be New Edge, but I could be accused of being a copycat.
Meeoow! If you leaf through Man of Joe Mean you are dubbed a
colourful party interested in the saucy bits of the society.
And by naming any of those, who wants to upset the DS editor?
I was reading about murder, extortion, kidnapping, ransom, extra-marital
stuff ... no! this was not a Masud Rana (or 007, if you are
Eengrez) thriller, but a normal daily newspaper narrating our
routine life. With my cat Spot on my lap, the steam from the
tea cup was disappearing into the warmth of the room. I thought...
naaahhh! It's not my cup of tea!
gentleman on the other side, however, insisted that I should
give it a thought. There you go! He got me to exercise my favourite
pastime, not that I get to do much, and that is why it is what
it is -- a much sought for luxury.
uh? My thoughts got drowsy as the boredom of reading the failures
of the present government as blamed on a Ministry and the promising
picture of the future, as painted by Ministers overtook my common
senses. Reading the same news day in and day out slackens your
brain nerves, and puts you to sleep.
the fazed picture of a 20-feet long limo, black, auto, and the
filled-up flag-stand in the fore, boggled by chinta,
I was rudely awakened by the claws of a jumpy Spot. They say
a cat can sense much more than us mere mortals. I believe he
foresaw some prowling perils in the proposal. Most likely he
did not want to lose his favourite lap.
of the things that must have registered with Spot is that as
Minister I would have to get up the earliest in the house, perhaps
at five, and book a place in my favourite toilet before any
of the scores of relatives, relatives of relatives, supporters,
and supporters of supporters got up to invade the seven bathrooms,
okay public toilets, in the official residence that has now
become their home. As minister I would have to bear with friends
and relatives I never knew existed. But they must have, seeing
that they are all grown up. It's not easy to consistently wear
a smile to mask a bleeding mind, body and soul.
only solace would be that I could enter the only private place
left in the world with yesterday's newspapers, and read about
what people had to say about us day before yesterday. No wonder
a government always lags behind. My friends and relatives would
have the prerogative to read today's newspapers second. The
sentry at the gate has the first.
forget the manoniyo mantri also gets to sleep very
late. He may have had to keep awake till 3 AM trying to stem
off a possible strike. Two hours is enough for a minister. When
he dies people will sigh and openly say, 'He was a great man,
he slept for two hours'. Under their breath the words would
be: 'He was stupid. He became a minister.'
would have to be in the bedroom, thankfully because it could
have been worse, as those lucky to find a place on the dining
table would still be in deep slumber.
I would have to start the long journey to my secretariat office.
It's actually three minutes drive but the walk down to the car
porch takes one hour, as I would have to touch eight sitting
areas. Visitors, actually they all claim to be persons, who
voted for me, would throng my house since six. Wonder when they
had to get up. Some would actually have slept (dare I say) in
my house. Come to think of it, if they all voted for the minister,
how come he won by only 682 votes in a constituency of four
too the middle class are the losers. If one wins an election
by a huge margin, he is a potential ministerial candidate, as
too are the ones that emerge victorious after a close fight.
A normal, even impressive, margin always passes off as average.
by my escort bahini of two dozen people (PS1/ PS2/
APS/ cadre/ tailor/ barber/ medicine man ...), I would have
to tell people at each of the half-a-dozen sitting areas that
some others are waiting in some other area while walking through.
It need not have to be the truth. That's why I would be a minister.
would have to waggle my head in the affirmative once and negative
thrice, and again affirmative and so on, as they would all talk
at the same time. I heard some ministers actually use ear plugs.
Clever, uh! Some would come with incredulous tadbirs,
others with frivolous complaints, miraculous ambitions, ridiculous
invitations, one even to the marriage of his daughter's putul...they
all want a minister.
the road, people eye a minister's car with a mixture of envy,
anger and curiosity, respectively because of the quick passage
of the VVVVVIP car, unsolved problems of the country and to
see the chiria still holding on to his post.
the office a minister is inundated with files and phone calls
besides the usual requests, grievances, projects and provocations.
The only privilege he enjoys is that he can be at a meeting
while enjoying a cuppa with his friends and friends of his friends.
the parliament he is accused of everything rising price, spiralling
crime and the defeat of the cricket team. He has to draw a make-believe
rosy picture about the smooth functioning of his department
with truths, half truths, half lies and full lies.
party meetings, those who could not become minister are after
his kalla. He also has to maintain liaise with his
constituency, otherwise come the next elections he could be
on the side writing the press release protesting massive rigging.
did not take me much time to weigh the perks that come with
being in the cabinet against the odds that the poor chap has
to fight. Becoming a minister is easier than being one. All
I had to say was a simple 'yes'.
my cosy bedroom seemed heavenly, Spot a lot warmer. All I said
was a simple 'no, thank you!'