I had taken a vacation from my job in the middle east and had come to Chennai to spend some time with my family and friends. As I was already used to the developed city life over there, the city conditions over here bored me and sometimes I found it disgusting. Hence I headed off to the silent “Thiruvanmiyur” beach in Chennai, which I knew to be more silent and less crowded.
I planned to spend some private time here and listen only to the sounds of nature and my own inner being. I caught an auto-rickshaw to the place and after that aimlessly loitered on the sands of the beach, feeling the heavy breeze ease the muscles of my body and the cool and quiet atmosphere caress my ears.
After about an hour of wandering without a purpose, I got into a small ‘tea and snacks’ stall located on the beach, to appease my stomach a little. There was only one single table in the stall around which a few chairs were placed.
As only a single customer other than me was currently in that stall, I had no qualms and soon seated myself opposite to the other person. I ordered one of the younger boys in the stall to bring me a glass of tea and a couple of ‘samosas’. Then in the brief time that passed for my order to be placed before me, I observed the other person unnoticeably.
He was a little short and dark colored like many other natives of the state. But though he wore very simple clothes of a casual full-sleeved shirt on the top and an ordinary ‘veshti’ to cover his legs, I felt there was something very eminent in him. I wondered what it could be.
Though he was probably in his 70’s, he wore his hair long and straight as any college-going boy of today would. But other than this, there was nothing else in this person which suggested that he could probably be as affluent as my first impression of him thought him to be. Further observing him, I noticed that he was reading a newspaper with a placid expression on his face.
As I received what I had ordered, I had a glance at the page of his newspaper that was facing me. On it was reported an article on the Income Tax authorities suspecting a renowned politician of possessing assets and cash disproportionate to his income. It further added that he had amassed all this out from indulging in corrupt activities and that the IT department began to suspect him because of his spendthrift lifestyle, especially when he kept taking vacations abroad the nation.
I shook my head in disgust and simply commented to no one in particular of how these politicians were robbing our country and then again ask us to pay our taxes. The person in front of me then looked up at me questioningly and asked, “Do you think all politicians are like that?”
I simply shrugged and asked, “How else do you expect them to be? Name one politician who lives like the ‘public servant’ that he really is and not like the ‘public master’ like they portray themselves to be?” The man then nodded and replied, “Yes, you are probably right. So then what do you suggest we should do?” I immediately felt my blood boling as I put all my hatred for politicians into words and said, “You should make them suffer like we do. Make those politcians live just one day in a home where there is no current, no water supply, lots of garbage around it, lots of stray dogs howling, no police around to guard him from robbers and then ask them to pay taxes for that one day. They perhaps then only understand what all we have to go through because of them.”
“I will keep that in mind.” As the man got up, I asked him if i knew who he was as his face looked familiar. He replied, “I am just an ordinary man.” Then he paid the keeper for his food and left the stall. After I too had finished my nourishment, I moved to the counter of the stall and asked its keeper. “Who was that person who just left now? I feel I have seen him somewhere.”
The keeper smiled and replied, “That was the former president of India, Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam.