My neighbours and myself as well, all of us who live on this particular street, voted for Bijli, Pani and Sadak like all the other people of Kashmir.
Only in our case we were more particular about the Sadak (road), that is, the street outside our houses. The condition of this street was so pitiable, with so many potholes dotting its surface that one would have a difficult time convincing anyone who lives on this street that small pox has been eradicated.
We sent many reminders to the concerned department but they did not show any concern. We even dispatched woeful letters to our Representative, the one we had voted for, along with Photostat copies of our votes and an underlined transcript of his pre-election speech. He was gracious enough to send us a 'Thank You card' signed on his behalf by his PRO. A spirited young lady who lives in our street even wrote a touching poem titled 'My Street' which went on to win several prizes but the road remained as it was, where it was. Finally a miracle happened; a month or so back our street caught the attention of the concerned authorities.
The potholes were filled with a dust-and-crushed-stones mixture and a road-roller ceremoniously rolled up and down the road several times. A glistening layer of tarmac completed the treatment. A few guys in the neighborhood grumbled that the specifications (whatever that means!) had been grossly ignored but nobody paid them any attention. The local population in the vicinity of the refurbished road (myself included!) regarded it daily with the same solicitude that one reserves for one's newly purchased car – looking out with concern for the minutest of scratches!
It was in this state of mind that I was walking along the road one fine morning when I chanced upon an eyesore right in the middle of it! Some uncouth cow (or it could very well have been a bull, because I don't have the level of expertise that would enable me to distinguish gender on the basis of dung!) had decided to relieve herself (or himself!) right in the middle of our beloved road. I lost no time in trying to remedy this intolerable situation. I rushed home, grabbed a spade and rushed back. Applying my spade to it I tried to yank the misshapen dry cake of dung off the road. To my horror a chunk of the road also came off with it leaving an ugly crater in the road! Gathering my wits I ran back home and grabbed a bottle of glue. I ran back and tried to glue the chunk of road back into place stamping upon the same to help the re-union. Just then a neighbour of mine appeared on the scene. I froze into a statue. He surveyed me suspiciously which was understandable considering that I must have made a strange spectacle standing there like a statue with a spade in my hand (which I was still carrying!). As soon as he turned the corner I tried to lift my foot but alas it was stuck! I panicked and in my panic I struggled wildly to free my shoe as a result of which the repaired chunk came off along with my shoe! At that very moment the neighbour reappeared and took in my guilty face, the spade in my hand and the crater in the road in one seemingly interminable glance!
As my ill luck would have it one of the forefathers of this particular neighbour had been caught red-handed by one of my forefathers in the process of stealing copper wires from the electric pole. He had duly handed the fellow to the police and testified against him in the court of law. Since then this family was not exactly on friendly terms with us and here I was a sitting duck for retribution! I went into hiding and stayed put till the crisis seemed to have blown over. The fellow maintained silence on the issue but sometimes I feel that he is just waiting for the appropriate time. I still blush when somebody mentions the disfigurement (which is still there and in fact increasing with every passing day!).
Come to think of it, the pessimists in our neighbourhood must have been right about the 'specifications'. I remember looking down at the road when it was just being completed and the tarred layer was wafer thin so much so that I could clearly seen a couple of coins trapped beneath it! I even remember pointing out the same to the engineer involved, who was at that moment leaving in his imported SUV. "There is money down there!" I remember telling him as I pointed at the coins. He laughed heartily and said that he knew that there was money 'down there' and that too in plenty. I understood his words only yesterday when I saw the palatial building that is his house…
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