"Look at this fellow," I pointed out the picture of a prominent local 'leader' in the newspaper to my cousin, "What sort of a pose is this? Why the guy is sleeping!"
My cousin who fancies himself to be an intellectual of the first order did not even bother to look at the picture but instead drawled in his usual condescending tone, "So what's new? Sleeping in public places is a public representative's prerogative.
After all how will they dream if they don't sleep. The Hon'ble guy is just doing his job."
"Job? Now what sort of a job includes sleeping and dreaming?!" I couldn't help but snort at his silly joke.
"That of every chap who fancies himself to be some sort of a hot-shot leader," my cousin said adding with an exaggerated sigh, "It guess it is that American chap… whatssis name… who is to be blamed!"
"George Bush?!" I supplied the most notorious American name.
"No I am talking of that champion of civil rights… the Black American leader… what was it now? Ah yes, Martin Luther King!"
"What about this Martin who-so-ever King?" I had always vaguely connected him with tennis!
"Well he started the whole thing by his famous speech 'I have a dream…'" he informed me.
"Started what?" I hate this way he has of talking in half-completed sentences.
"This dream business…" he let the sentence trail, as usual.
He can be so exasperating!
"Would you please care to explain?!" I said with exaggerated politeness.
He rolled his eyes and hissed out a prolonged sigh, shaking his head at the onerous responsibility of having to explain weighty matters to dim-witted relatives (read Me!)
"It was Martin Luther King who made that famous speech 'I have a dream…'" he tried to explain.
"So you said… what then!"
"Well it started the trend. Every chap who fancies himself to be some sort of a 'leader' added 'dreaming' to his list of must-do! So you have all kinds, from the world's high-and-mighty right down to your own local, backyard politician talking of his 'big dream'!"
"Oh! I see!" A lot of things became clear to me. " I guess that's what accounts for the far-away dreamy look our politicians get after they get elected. Before elections they are all smiles, and courteous and shaking you hand etc., but once they get elected they just seem to look right through you (making you feel like H.G. Wells' invisible man!).
The frequency at which they hear also seems to undergo a change as your words fail to reach them and the only thing of yours they shake is your trust in them! Little did I know that all the time these poor fellows are at work actually, dreaming the 'I have a dream' stuff!"
"Exactly!" my cousin slapped his thigh and gave me an encouraging smile that seemed to say that he had actually discerned a spark of intelligence in dim-witted me!
"But what's blame-worthy about dreams?" I still needed to puzzle this out.
"It is not the dreams that are a problem. It is all that comes before (and after as well!). You see, in order to have that all-important dream, you need to have a sound sleep first! And that is no easy matter.
For that you need the lap of luxury…comfortable beds… palatial bungalows… acres of serene and peaceful surroundings. It is gathering all these prerequisites that saps our poor leaders' vitality most of the time. Ideals, principles, morals, promises and commitments – all these have to be expended to buy the peaceful ambience needed for a sound sleep!
And then you have got to have high walls, barbed wire and a lot of security men to keep out any and every sort of disturbance. Even when you go somewhere you need a retinue of these to keep you safe from the nuisance that most people tend to be, and clear the way, so that you can sleepwalk and dream-on. Sometimes a whole people have to be sold out to achieve this target." my cousin explained at length.
"You have really opened my eyes," I said with sincere gratitude. "This is something to think about. From now on, I am going to hold every snore of our leaders as sacred. Indeed even their sleep is a favour to us – undeserving and ungrateful people that we are!"
The expression on my cousin's face told me that I had once again managed to crawl up several notches on his intelligence scale.
"Yeah," he said, "though some of the leaders do sometimes get over enthusiastic about it all. Some of them got to such extremes about the 'dream-thing' that they actually start hallucinating!"
"Hallucinating?! What's that?"
"It is kind of dreaming even if your eyes are wide open you know seeing things…well I mean seeing things that aren't there at all!" he readily explained.
"Like say peace and development…you know the usual stuff," he said.
I nodded my head because these did sound familiar. I took another look at the picture of the sleeping politician in the newspaper and saw him afresh as a visionary leader of the masses…
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!).