Friday, December 30, 2016

When The President Passed By...

                            When The President Passed By.....

I perched on top of a branch that would give me a good view of what was happening in the entire Street. It was what humans would call "A Bird's Eye View". Being a Pigeon, I definitely qualified for that metaphor. 

Something seemed unusual. An air of eerie discipline seemed to be settling on the Street through the day. I ignored it initially - but as a restless afternoon turned towards the evening, there were unmistakable signs that the Street was preparing for something big. The hugest betrayal was when one of my loose feathers fell on the street as the wind ruffled my wings and a man clad in Khaki - who humans call the Police Constable -  rushed to pick it up and throw it in the dustbin. His eyes gave me a piercing look that warned me against littering the street again. Funny, I thought. Nobody had cared for bird feathers earlier - not when hordes of human generated garbage piled on the Street everyday.

I overheard some of the humans talking on the lines of "Revolution" in the shade of the tree I was perched on. From the snatches of conversation, I could understand that things were about to change forever. The cleanliness drive launched across the country was about to finally percolate to the Street. The Street would not be littered. And littering would attract huge fines. The system would be hugely disciplined from now on. The President would be inaugurating this new state-of-affairs tomorrow! 

The President - he was this Head of the Nation that humans talked about with great reverence. Being Head of the Nation meant he was respected by all of us as well. I mean we are his subjects too - the homeless birds, the stray cattle and the street dogs. We silently wondered what would be the consequences if we chose to empty our bowels on the Street as usual from tomorrow - specially my kin, who air drop their waste like missiles in times of warfare.

As night settled in, machines and rollers entered the Street with a team of White uniformed Traffic Police along with Police constables. And within minutes, all potholes on the Street were filled with tar and concrete. Though most of it was patchwork, the Street seemed to bask and blush  as Moon shone through the tree branches and illuminated the newly laid tar. I couldn't help but wonder if  elections were approaching in the human world. The last time I saw these machines on the Street was during a period when there were lot of public announcements and cacophony going on. My Granddad had told me that humans choose their leaders during these elections and it improves their life. Well, I'm not qualified to comment on the improvements - but the Street sure needed some tar to look beautiful again!

The Khadi and White Policemen now ran an evacuation drive on the Street. Vehicles parked in front of homes were towed away without mercy. Stray cattle that settled on the footpath lazily everyday and mooed without a care were shooed away to their sheds with purpose. Humans who were tired of campaigning and complaining against these issues were delighted that their prayers were answered at last. Somewhere, someone, somehow had galvanised the system. The clean footpaths, the clear road. For a moment, even I felt I was missing something by not being human!

The Street spent the night in palpable excitement. I joined the frenzy as well - asking my little kids to hold onto their bowel and not spill its contents on the Street.  I wanted to do my bit to impress the President. Who knows...may be the next step was a toilet for the animals!

Morning dawned to last minute preparations and checks. Bureaucrats clad in spotless attire were there at sunrise to examine the spotless Street. Workers from the municipal body were cleaning the Street again - and again. Their Boss-who most of us were seeing for the first time - was instructing them to do it again in an hour's time. Policemen took up vantage positions throughout the Street anticipating the arrival of The President.

Suddenly, my kids started squeaking in excitement. I looked around. In the horizon was the Presidential convoy. It was the moment the entire Street was waiting for in the last 24 hours. The ushering in of a new normal. As the convoy passed I could feel those human dreams manifesting themselves in the Street. Tarred roads, clear footpaths, litter free surroundings, well behaved traffic - seemingly insignificant yet so critically important for a high quality life.

Life seemed to stand still for a minute - as that convoy of 52 cars and 2 ambulances passed through the Street. It was tough to spot the President - sitting snugly in his Mercedes Benz. But seeing the Presidential Benz itself was a life time achievement for most humans. As the moment passed and chatter broke out, many claimed they had seen his face; Some claimed they saw his upper body and he was busy talking to his colleague in the car. Some ventured to say he waved at them. Most ludicrous was the argument that the Mercedes was a decoy and he was always in a police van, surrounded by commandos for security. My kids were still in salute with their chest puffed out - a mark of respect for our First Citizen.

And then, life on the Street hit reality again. The vibrant White and Khaki that adorned the Street over the last 24 hours slowly moved out - like dreams slipping out of a waking mind. Cars and bikes suffocating in the stuffy compounds of their owners' homes slowly came back to the freedom of the Street. Garbage stored carefully inside homes for the past day came back whizzing into the Street again. And as more vehicles plied the Street, the potholes would inevitably resurface. We watched life unfold on the Street in the next one hour from our perch atop the tree. With each passing minute, my mind was becoming clearer. And as I watched disappointment on the faces of the few campaigners ,that regret of not becoming a human was ebbing away too. We were better off having a "Bird's Eye View" of their life - not living their infinite complexities and compromises.

My chain of thoughts was broken by a loud plop. I looked around to see what happened. My youngest had decided to break her penance of constipation. Toilets for animals - well that would be a story for an other day....or generation perhaps!
                                                               
                                                                                   - 30th December 2016, Friday