Our cup of sympathy brimmeth over…

...and usually ends up misplaced!
Our cup of sympathy brimmeth over…

Soon everyone had some story to relate of Momma Kaandur'sbenevolence. We had suddenly discovered that we had a saint living amongst us!

If ever an international competition of bleeding-hearts isorganized we Kashmiris are sure to win it hands down. Indeed we are asympathetic lot; we possess and profess sympathy by bucket loads. So much sothat most of the time we don't know what to do with this brimming excess andthat's why it ends up as misplaced sympathy ultimately.  We may be cursing someone a moment before butif he gets into trouble – even legitimate trouble – the next moment our heartsgo all out to the chap and we rally to his support. Of course it must be a welldocumented fact by this time that we all have an anarchist in us. Perhaps atheart we are all anti-establishment. This is amply illustrated by our tendencyof lionising the anti-hero and also by our propensity to pull down heroes.

As an illustration let me cite the example of this Kaandur(traditional Kashmiri baker) in our locality and what all happened to him andthe reactions that evoked. This fellow would invariably use the worst possiblequality flour to bake bread and then again it would be several sizes short ofthe recommended size. All of us who bought and consumed the bread he baked usedto discuss him no end. In fact at times the emotions would run so high that itwould seem like Momma Kaandur would top the 'hit list' soon and if onlysomebody could manage a connection with a contract killer he wouldn't survivefor long. We would often decry the callous attitude of the authorities inletting him get away with his misdeeds and the issue of corruption, which webelieved made the concerned agencies unconcerned, would be discussedthreadbare. Invariably the discussion would lead to a vivisection of theKashmir issue because of course all matters finally find their origin in thatonly in this part of the world. 

Then one day the unexpected happened. There was this newresident of our colony who listened silently to one such discussion of ours onthe topic of the rogue baker. We didn't know that his wife's brother was a topofficial in the department that is supposed to check on the quantity andquality of food articles. Probably inspired by the venomous discussions aboutMomma Kaandur this fellow urged his brother-in-law to check out things andbrother-in-laws being brother-in-laws the official readily obliged and the longalbeit arthritic arm of the law finally knocked on the shutters of MommaKaandur's shop. As we were leaving for our offices one day, a couple ofvehicles screeched to a halt outside the shop and a posse of men in civviesaccompanied by a few policemen got out and surrounded the shop. It was a raid.Samples of various breads as well as various accessories were taken. Two sacksof flour were destroyed on spot and the baker was ignominiously hauled off tothe local police station.

Now if you are thinking that the inhabitants of our localitygave a standing ovation to the 'authorities' and the police for nailing theculprit, it will only go to show how ill-acquainted you are with the Kashmiripsyche. Yes a few old men and women did mutter satisfaction at the event but itwas a muted and cautious muttering and later events gave them enough cause tobite – nay chew – their tongues. If anything the raid caused indignation andresentment which began at the very moment of the raid as was evident from amini episode of stone-pelting at the site by a few school kids who happened tobe passing by at the moment. Slogans were also raised and it didn't take longfor this ripple of a protest to turn into a wave. In no time the whole localityincluding those who had never tasted Momma Kaandur's bread rallied to hissupport and those who knew who was behind the raid cold shouldered the guy somuch so that he started looking for customers for his house. 

Momma Kaandur became a hero overnight. There were women whorecounted how they had seen him feeding bread to starving dogs in the bleakwinter.

"I myself saw him handing over a day-old Lavasa (a varietyof local bread) to a beggar one day," one man swore.

"And I am witness to his act of handing over a partiallyburnt Tsot (another variety of local bread) to an old woman and refusing totake money for that!" said another.

Yet another man bore testimony to the fact that MommaKaandur at least once filled the Kangri of an old man with coals and embers inwinter. Soon everyone had some story to relate of Momma Kaandur's benevolence.We had suddenly discovered that we had a saint living amongst us! Theshort-changed low quality bread that he sold us suddenly acquired the status ofa tabruk (consecrated bread). If Momma Kaandur had died during this period I amsure a highly venerated mausoleum would have come up in his honour. And ofcourse if he had suddenly got it into his head to contest elections at themoment he would have won hands down.

The long and the short of this story is that the authoritieswere pretty rattled by the strong reaction demonstrated by the people. A fewpolitical aspirants seized the opportunity and plunged into this agitation andat least one established politician who had lately lost favour among his partymembers as well as the locals raised quite a ruckus. Not only was Momma Kaandurreleased immediately but the official who had conducted the raid wastransferred. The new resident of our colony who had 'inspired' the raid shiftedto some other place and has uploaded pictures of his house on OLX. MeanwhileMomma Kaandur is back in business and if anything has changed it is that thequality of his bread has worsened and the size has shrunk further. And everytime we take this bread we shake our heads and decry the callousness of theauthorities and the corruption…

(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, atsnp_ajazbaba@yahoo.com)

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