‘I’m already late for my morning walk,’ the minister barked. Well, he had probably forgotten that the person in the driving seat was his wife. The driver reported for duty, like all drivers are prone to, just before the minister actually left for his office.
The wife simply said, ‘Stop barking. I’m not a civil servant in your ministry.’ Then she flung the car keys at her husband and added, ‘I’ll walk around the block toady. You go drive yourself to Lodhi gardens.’
The minister should have paid heed to what happens at 5 in the morning. Even the omens and warning signs are most alert then. Well, our minister in this story isn’t one of those dhoti-clad guys who keep rushing into the well of the House so often. He is younger than most of those octogenarian politicians and actually wears sportswear for his morning walk. In fact, he is one person who tries very hard to understand issues that the media keeps unearthing ever so often and strategizes his corrupt practices in ways that have kept him ahead of media machinations, exposes, and stings so far. He is foxily intelligent and this is what you see even when he drives. But had he let the signs talk to him they just might have revealed to him that his wife had, that fateful morning, finally decided to elope with her lover from her college days that night. But then this is beside the point as we are talking about our beloved minister here.
So here we have our beloved minister driving himself to the Lodhi gardens and barely 300 yards from his house he comes to a crossroad. The traffic lights are neither asleep nor are they blinking like some automated mannequin in a store… they are functional and a calmly authoritative red stop signal wants him to stop.
‘I’m getting late… and these traffic signals are awake at five in the morning,’ he muttered as he slowed and then, like an after-thought, decided to zip across to the right side without stopping. As he accelerated he heard the sound of screeching brakes and his rear view mirror told him that he has barely escaped what could have been a severe accident. He, however, smiled and said to himself, ‘No one can stop a determined minister.’
Well, this was the second warning sign that this determined minister ought to have paid heed to, but he didn’t. As he told himself while driving that morning, ‘Health is important. I need to remain healthy,’ and then with a wily smile, added, ‘wealthy and full of vices!’ He laughed whole-heartedly and remained unaware of an angry blogger who had taken out his smartphone and clicked his zooming car breaking all road rules. Our minister didn’t know that this photograph was also being uploaded on the Delhi Traffic Police Facebook page even as he was in his early morning mood! But then ministers aren’t really so social media savvy, are they?
Well, the walk over, our minister returned home with the car keys jangling in his pocket and some not so old and not so new song on his lips. He changed and went to brush his teeth. The moment the brush touched his gums, he winced in pain. He also noticed that the gums seemed to have a distinct border that was red in colour. ‘Ha! So even gums have an LOC. Well, if they don’t like a prickly toothbrush, even I don’t.’ He cleaned his toothbrush and just rinsed his mouth with water. Well, ok, he did this not once but a lot of times. He let the water swish to the left of his mouth and then to the right, just like that guy does in the mouthwash advertisement on TV, all the time saying, ‘Water is better than these chemicals in a toothpaste. A water rinse is magical, and why not… look at all the animals… they never brush their teeth and never use soap. Do they suffer? No.’ And with a greatly dramatized ‘No!’ in front of the bathroom mirror, the minister got ready for his great day at office.
Do you think the gums setting up a red bloody line there inside his mouth was a warning sign? Well, yes, even this was a warning sign that our minister chose to ignore.
‘It is an important day today,’ he announced to his wife, ‘the reshuffle might just get me a position in the Health ministry. And then in the afternoon I need to go for the visa too. Remember, I am a part of that delegation that has to go on a seven-nation tour soon?’ He was humming as ministers only can hum and seemed rather happy.
‘I’m packing my bags and will be going tonight,’ said his wife. Well… well… well… is she going to announce that she will be eloping with a lover? No, the wife isn’t a minister yet and cannot be expected to do such foolish things, not even in stories and fables that are anyway going to have a moral at the end. But the minister was too busy with his humming and said, ‘Going? Ok. Have a lovely trip.’
Even before he reached office he had a call from the PMO asking him to come down immediately. The minister felt this was great news and told the driver to turn towards the PMO.
Did he meet the PM there? It doesn’t matter as he was addressed by the head clerk there who said, ‘Sir, the chief of Traffic Police was on a night long patrolling duty to see who all were breaking traffic laws. He was to report to the PM at six in the morning. He has reported that he personally saw you driving your car rashly and breaking traffic signals. In fact, you nearly killed him at a crossing.’
‘I was asleep and woke up late,’ said the minister without a moment’s delay.
‘Sir this is not possible as someone uploaded a set of six pictures of you jumping traffic lights and missing the Traffic Chief’s car. The pictures have a date and time seal and they show you clearly in the driving seat.’
Well, the minister wasn’t really bothered about such minor incidents and asked, ‘Is this all that I was called here for? I’ll look into this matter. Thank you for warning me.’ He paused and then asked in a low voice, ‘What about the reshuffle? Any news on that?’
‘Sir, the media has already informed the PM that this incident will be reported in all major and minor dailies… and are asking what the PM plans to do about it.’ The minister then realised that this wasn’t any ordinary incident that could be overlooked easily. Even the timing was… so bloody inappropriate! He nodded and with a wave of his hand asked the head clerk to go on.
‘Sir I am not to reveal any information on the reshuffle. But I can that it is not going to be easy for you now. You were called to address an emergency press conference jointly with Press Advisor to the PM.
The press conference was a roaring success… with the press roaring and the PMO successfully making him a visibly cringing target. His name did not feature in the reshuffle, of course.
The day had just begun for our minister. His Health portfolio was distanced from him and even his present position was in a state of anxious dilemma. But our minister was still gung-ho and thought to himself, ‘I’ll anyway be going on this seven-nation tour and will get some gifts for everyone in the PMO and by then even the press would be busy with some other scam.’ This minister was an epic example of a rather buoyant optimism afloat on wings on illogical reasoning or no reasoning at all. But then who are we to come to such sweeping conclusions. It is what happened when the minister went to get his visa that becomes an interesting study of warning signs.
‘Your forms are all complete, sir,’ said the visa executive, ‘you just need to get the biometrics done and get a medical clearance from our doctor. Here are the forms and now if you please go to the section that you see on your right.’
The minister found all this rather cumbersome and thought, ‘Why can’t all this be done without my presence. Well, let me just get these forms done now.’ He had already put the reshuffle shock way behind him, such was his ebullient optimism. He was confident that he’d be able to put things right in just a few days.
Well, the biometrics wasn’t a cake-walk either as his index finger and thumb were simply refusing to register any sort of mark on the PC screen… but with some pressure this was done, and he remarked, ‘See, you just need to press correctly. Please tell the others the right way now… and you will waste less time.’ The guy doing the biometrics was surprised at this but smiled nevertheless and asked him to proceed for the medical examination.
‘I have ticked here that I have no problems. This is correct, doctor. Please sign and let the job be done now.’
‘Yes sir, please let me first take your BP.’
The doctor did not seem to be bothered about all the ticks he had made on the medical form and was intent upon every sort of examination and it was all so time consuming. The doctor finally asked him to open his mouth wide.
The minister did just that and could suddenly sense that something was amiss because the doctor just said, ‘Oh my God! This is serious!’
‘What is serious? Who is serious?’ asked the minister. The doctor then explained to him that he had severely bleeding gums and that this could be one reason for his visa being denied.
‘But my flight is day after tomorrow. This is an important study tour. I am a minister. You just sign here and forget my gums.’
‘No, I cannot do that sir. I am recommending you to the panelled dentist and such cases take quite a while to get alright. Dental infection cases are liable to be denied visa for the countries you are applying for. I am sorry but if this tour start day after tomorrow, it may not be possible for you to be a part of it.’
The minister just looked at the doctor until he was politely asked to get up and get going with his dental health.
Our beloved minister reached his home rather late in the evening and was handed a letter by the man-servant at home, who also said, ‘Madam left with her bag and asked me to give this letter to you.’
He opened the letter and read the first couple of lines:
I am leaving you forever and going away with my lover from my college days. It doesn’t matter who he is or where I am going… but let me tell you it happened only because you were unwilling to even see the warning signs…
‘Warning signs,’ the minister muttered, ‘why didn’t I see the warning signs… what will you do now Mr Minister?’
Post written for ‘The moral of the story is…’ contest on indiblogger.
The sponsors ‘Colgate Total’ have an interesting blog where some pertinent health issues are taken up.
05 June 2013
Featured image: Taken from Google and adapted for this post.
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