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Published by mohansuramya7228
Humourous happenings involving members of a local Resident Welfare Association. Your feedback is welcome.
Humourous happenings involving members of a local Resident Welfare Association. Your feedback is welcome.

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Published by: mohansuramya7228 on Jan 03, 2009
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I: Introducing the members and the problem
Right in front of my house there's a field which serves as a ground for holding footballmatches, marriages, political meetings and what not. I marvel at the change it undergoesevery time it offers itself for a particular event. Vast and unbounded for a football contest,serene and compact for a marriage function … But at all times a section of the groundsports a garbage dump due to the inefficiency and laziness of the municipal bodies.The ground's upkeep is in the hands of the local residents' welfare association (R.W.A.).A dedicated gardener attends to the task quite diligently and, but for him, the heap of garbage would have occupied a much larger portion of the ground than it does at present.Mr Sen, my next-door neighbour, cannot tolerate the existence of the dung heap. Heimagines its stench infiltrating his nostrils at all times of the day, even when he is twentykilometers away at his construction site. He is a very pious man with many godsenshrined at his home but none of the gods have answered even one of his countless prayers so far. His wife thinks that the gods have failed them. He, on the other hand,thinks just the reverse. He has failed the gods by not managing to get the environs worthyof 'Them'. Husband and wife fight fairly frequently over the issue and sometimes Mr Sencomes over to my place to 'cool off'. I try to ensure that such visits terminate soon andgenerally I do manage to have him off my hands in less than fifteen minutes when he, if allowed to have his way, would have settled for nothing less than an hour. Mr Sen is fifty plus, pot-bellied, almost bald and his appearance has, with every passing year, becomemore of a joke with the children of the colony. The more non-seriously he is taken, themore serious he tries to be with the result that he is lighthearted about almost nothing.All this talk about removing the garbage is sacrilegious to Mr. Khan. He lives three blocks away from my house but has enough strength in his voice still to make it carry up
to my place. Mr. Khan was an athlete in his youth and the effect of following adisciplined regimen shows through his ramrod straight spine. Mr. Khan's two daughtershave married and left for the States from where they keep calling him often, or so hesays. His wife died many years ago, having met with an accident on the ill-lit roads of thecolony. Just two weeks prior to that incident, Mr. Khan had proposed to collect some'chanda' from all the residents and have street lights installed in the colony after the city'scivic administration had expressed its inability to do so for lack of funds. The proposalwas defeated and so, since the tragedy, Mr. Khan views the garbage heap as a reflectionof the decadence of our collective selves. He wants the heap to be there forever to remindus of our 'guilt'. Mr. Sen and Mr. Khan often clash over the matter and both claim victoryafterwards but objective bystanders agree that the result is always inconclusive.To Mrs. Agnihotri, the garbage is a source of huge comfort. She is touching eighty and isforever heard repeating the sentence, "They have changed everything." Just exactly whois the 'they' she refers to is never specified and guesses range from her elder son and hiswife to Pandit Nehru and all subsequent Prime Ministers! She feels out of place in her own house which her husband, now dead, constructed an era ago. "Almost everything haschanged and nobody has had the courtesy to inform me about it," she seems to say everyminute. She is sometimes resentful, often petrified and almost always surprised at the pace and extent of change. She has no coordinates left to guide her save for the garbagedump. It has always been there, it shall always be there and till it is there, life would keepmaking sense. Since the garbage corner is towards the eastern side of her house, everymorning when one sees her praying to the Sun god rising from the East, one has theimpression that she is offering the water to, and chanting the 'shlokas' for, the garbagelying there imperturbably on the ground. Mr. Sen once passed a resolution in a R.W.A.meeting that she should be debarred from exercising her vote on grounds of old age but itwas defeated on the plea that even the constitution of India has no concept of maximumvoting age. Mr. Sen gets very tense as he ponders over the possibility of collusion between Mr. Khan and Mrs. Agnihotri in the next R.W.A. meeting. So, having consultedhis lawyer, Mr. Sen is now planning to raise the issue of Mrs. Agnihotri's questionablesanity in the forthcoming meeting. He thinks he is on surer footing this time.
Mr. Kumar, the colony's R.W.A. president, is a man fast approaching retirement and,therefore, more anxious than ever before to find something more suited for a man of hisstature than the post of President of a mere R.W.A. He is again aiming to get nominatedto the city's Zonal Municipal Council but is convinced that the continual existence of thegarbage dump in his own colony would spell doom for his candidacy this time also. It is a black mark on his sterling record as R.W.A president for the last three years. All hiscurses relate to the garbage dump and all his abuses prominently mention it. He has evennamed his rival candidate 'kooda' – rubbish. One sees him shaking his head in sorrowevery time the garbage dump defeats his plans to vanquish it. He keeps seekingeveryone's advice on the issue but is reportedly not too keen on Mr. Sen's idea of imposition of monetary penalties.Shyam's two younger brothers accompany his parents as they go about the family's rag- picking business at night. To them, the garbage heap is a conveniently located resourcethat they mine with due diligence, a source of their daily bread and butter that never leaves them disappointed and, indeed, often surprises them with its secrets. The entirefamily thrives on what the whole colony regards as waste and has no problems at all withthe existence of the garbage heap. Shyam knows a thing or two about voting rights butthat, per se, does not bother Mr. Sen for while Shyam is sometimes present in our R.W.Ameetings to do odd jobs, he has no voting rights and won't have them in a hundred years.However, Shyam does have the power to sway a few votes because he is the local help atsome households in the colony and keeps dropping hints every now and then that werethe garbage heap to be dealt a body blow, he and his family may well have to shiftelsewhere. Wives of several residents have started having palpitations at the very thought.Mrs. Gupta, a banker by profession, is already rumoured to be giving the whole matter arethink. In fact, insiders claim that she has all but capitulated before the threat of losingout on such a valuable help as Shyam's.This gets Mr. Sen all worked up. He has not yet lost hope of convincing Mr. Kumar tosettle for monetary fines which can be imposed on all those who litter the ground. Mr.

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