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Guest column: Pulped by the polls

It seems the suffrage (right to vote) is indeed turning out to be a suffering.

opinion Updated: Nov 05, 2017 18:36 IST
Col Avnish Sharma (retd)
(Ht Representative)

There is never a dull moment. Politics has seeped into the tiniest of pores in life that no matter how hard we try and foray to other subjects, the discussion, views and opinions tend to steer towards political issues and events.

Gurdaspur bypolls, necessitated with the sad demise of iconic Bollywood star Vinod Khanna, were held recently.

A senior colleague of ours was keen to obtain feedback from the locals on the low voter turnout. “General saab, ki dassiye...roz di roz koi na koi electiona hundiyan rehandiyan ne...asin taan dukhi hogaye han (we are fed up with multiferous polls around us)” this innocent farmer continued, “Dekho ji, pichle mahine samiti diyan electiona si.. uthon baad panchayat, block...hun agle hafte block diyan.. koi ethe aan nu kehanda hai koi othe..banda kare tan ki kare!”

The hilarious rendition, when evaluated, is a fact.

Starting from elections to the RWAs and clubs, and then moving all the way to the Lok Sabha, the excitement is endless. It seems the suffrage (right to vote) is indeed turning out to be a suffering. I was pleasantly amused to notice one of our WhatsApp group rooting to hold polls to select an admin!

The frustration that the overbearing activities have on our daily routine, reminds me of an incident some years back. I was secretary of the officers’ mess of my regiment. It was a pressure job as senior officers and VIPs visited the station routinely.

Bora was a disciplined and efficient waiter in the mess. Notwithstanding, the administrative pressure, the CO and all of us were committed to putting our best foot forward. Thus, Bora was kept in the forefront. Every time, he applied for leave, the set reply would be, “Bora, hold on. General saab is visiting us...apply again after the visit.”

Well, this carried on... the smiling face and endearing professional acumen of Bora enhanced his popularity with the visiting dignitaries, and at times, the repeat visitors would insist that they be served and looked after only by him.

The Regiment’s annual inspection was scheduled and preparations took off. I was summoned to the CO’s office and the instructions were crisp: “Major, see to it that Bora is fit and available”.

I saluted and moved out , aware of the leave application put up by Bora a day before. In fact, this was the fourth in a row during the past quarter. As I approached my office, I saw an expectant Bora, waiting to serve me hot coffee and take his movement order to proceed to Assam, his home.

I decided to avoid beating around the bush and instead confront him head on. “Bora, general sab par kya jadoo kar diya...unka demand he ki inspection ke dauraan Bora ka hona zaroori hai.” Bora smiled, saluted smartly and left. I was relaxed, happy that everything is in place.

Next day, the inspecting officer arrived with his entourage and proceeded to the COs office for the briefing, hoping to be served his special beverage by a smiling Bora.

Meantime, the environment in the officers’ mess was tensed and an uneasy silence prevailed. Dafedar Didar Singh, our conscientious mess dafedar stood in front of the harried mess secretary, reading out a note written in Roman Hindi and signed by Bora.

“Jai Hind saab, pichle teen mahine mein meri do shadiyaan toot gayi hain. General saab to ate jate rehte hain, is se pehle teesre bhi toot jaye aur mein zindagi bhar kuwaara rahoon, mein chutti ja raha hoon. Mujhe maaf karna saab...shaadi mein zaroor ayen, family ke saath!”

avnishrms59@gmail.com

The writer is a Chandigarh-based retired army officer