Whose ‘cylinder’ is it?

It was this ‘cylinder milton’ who came to the rescue of the people

Salt N' Pepper


If you thought that the gas crisis would just blow over you have never been further from truth. In fact the stink raised by the absence of gas (now who would ever have thought that the absence of gas would raise more stink than its presence does!) refuses to die down. I asked an MLA, who happens to be a friend of mine as to what the government was doing about this crisis. With a note of exasperation he said, “Well this is pretty unreasonable of people. They voted for Bijli, Pani and Sadak and now they are demanding Gas which was never part of the bargain. The public has to learn to be self dependent, they can’t always expect to be spoon-fed. ” 
He has a point especially considering that the authorities are still struggling with the Bijli, Pani and Sadak issues without making much of headway it seems. The people have to seek their own solutions for this crisis. Not that they don’t try but there are problems. A couple of days back I saw a crowd gathered in our lane. On enquiring about the assembly it came out that one of my neighbours had fallen down from the roof of his house and his wife, like poor Jill of the nursery rhyme, had come tumbling after. It turned out that the duo had been attempting to cook their meal using solar power. Deciding that the rooftop would be an ideal place to catch the maximum of sun the husband had been holding the cooking bowl while the wife focused the sunlight on it using a mirror or something like that. Granted that this was a rather wild idea but tell me what options remain for a common man!
But then as they say if one door closes many others open. It was this ‘cylinder milton’ who came to the rescue of the people of our locality. Of course anyone who has lived in Kashmir for the last two decades knows what ‘cylinder milton’ means. For those who don’t have an explanation would be in order. The cylinder in ‘cylinder milton’ is not a gas cylinder (just a quaint coincidence!) and I might as well add that ‘milton’ neither refers to that famous poet of the English language (as the literary minded may be led to think) nor does it refer to the popular brand of plastics (as the more domesticated reader might imagine). ‘Cylinder Milton’ is a phrase, being as it is a Kashmirized version of ‘surrendered militant’. Anyway the hero of our story is a ‘cylinder milton’ though there is a bit of a controversy about it with some maintaining that he was never really a ‘milton’ but a ‘soyeth’ (a sidekick) but that is just nit picking. As of now supplying gas is a small but significant part of the business empire of this ‘cylinder milton’. In his ‘active’ days he had indulged in an enterprising hobby of collecting abandoned gas cylinders from different houses and now he runs a fairly successful business of selling gas on the black market. During the present crisis when gas vanished into thin air this gentleman came forth as the messiah of the masses keeping the supply moving. What is more I got a special concession over the going rate as the ‘cylinder milton’ would tell me with a grin, “Sarkar mein nay aapka namak khaya hein!” There is a story behind that. You see when the ‘cylinder milton’ was yet a ‘milton’ one day he invited himself to dinner at our place. A chicken was hastily slaughtered in his ‘honour’ and cooked with such haste that my mother forgot to put salt in it. The ‘milton’ took one mouthful of the same and spat it out leveling his Kalashnikov at the bowl containing the offending preparation. My father pleaded with him to spare the targeted bowl and I hurriedly went to the kitchen to fetch a salt shaker. My hands were shaking badly (the fact that he was stirring the preparation with the barrel of his Kalashnikov did not help things!) so much so that I shook more salt into the dish that it deserved. Since it was already too late to prepare another dish the ‘milton’ consumed the chicken, extra salt notwithstanding. Till date he blames me for his increased blood pressure but he has a sense of humour, every time I require his services I get a concession as the guy says with a mischievous smile “sarkar mein nay aapka namak khaya hein!”   
All said and done this ‘cylinder milton’ has come across as a real life hero for us because when even the authorities failed, and miserably too, he was the one to keep our home fires burning. I remember one day the ‘cylinder milton’ (when he was yet a ‘milton’!) said, “You just see one day it is we who will be running the show in this place.” Considering that the authorities have chosen to ‘cylinder’ rather than address the problem, I must say that it was no idle boast. 
(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at snp_ajazbaba@yahoo.com)

Lastupdate on : Sat, 3 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 3 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 4 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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