The Exploitative Potato

“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.” – Ray Bradbury

There is a small, scattered group of individuals, who for some inexplicable reason follow my blog-posts. Out of these few, there is a wee faction that never comments but always send me mail. This is also the same crowd who were fairly flustered during the long hiatus I took from blogging. Recent mails have stuff like, “Please don’t write in Hindi……Why verse only………Why don’t you write something else……..about people?”

Well! I don’t have much to say and even if I did – who would be interested or understand?

What is the point of talking about people who carry their window-frames, through which they look at me and dissect and offer unsolicited advice? Then go away pacified within themselves that they have done their bit – leaving behind the sacrificial goat that has yet to die completely and then, the plot with accompanying laughter, thickens.

When asked questions (however personal) and depending who is asking, I am fairly frank with my answers. I no longer consider anybody close to me (though I am extremely fond of a few); and am reticent primarily because my answers are then taken as a plea for sympathy and/or hints for financial support or plain nautanki. There are people who with great concern transfer money into my bank account to tide-me-over. I have to then make arrangements to return that money without offending them too much. Why don’t they understand that the ‘tide-me-over’ is a demeaning tidal wave of mortification for me? An automatic rift is created within me and I retreat to repair – only to be misunderstood – again.

But the clamour from my demon to step on a landmine gets to be overriding.

So, I decided to write about an exploitative potato that hopefully I won’t have to give up.

Agar aap ek aaloo chodte ho……..

There is this newly painted kitchen with cobwebs in the house I physically live in. In this kitchen is a small rattan vegetable basket and in this basket is a solitary potato which is my subsidy. This large potato looks at me in an exploitative manner and I swear it has winked at me too!

I can’t eat it. If I do, I will be left without a subsidy. So I dream of this potato all the time. It is important for people like me to have a dream – however subsidized. That way, I am better-off pretending that I am better-off. No point always thinking about the uncertain future that looms larger and fairly ominous with no solutions applicable or acceptable.

These days, I travel over 125 km twice-a-week to earn money for survival and some modicum of self-respect. This journey both ways involves carrying a rucksack full of books; a lot of walking; uncomfortable rides in share autos and state transport buses. Exhausted by the time I return home in the evening. The physical pain then comes in like high tide. But, all through the travails of the day, I have the image of the exploitative potato looking at me rather invitingly. It sounds potty but helps.

I drool as I plan various recipes that involve a potato. But as nothing else is subsidized, I am left with just the potato that can only be boiled, roasted or consumed raw. Also, if I don’t give-it-up, it is bound to be taken away under various pretexts. It may even lapse and I will then have to give a reason as to why such a thing happened? How do I then apply for a new subsidy? There are no Subsidy Seva Kendras and I will probably have to prove that I am alive. Ah! The catch-22!

Kya mujhe ek aaloo chodna padega? Agar mein ek aaloo give-it-up karta hoon to kitne netaoin ka bhala hoga?  How many will be able to live-it-up further?

But I must learn not to be selfish and attempt the supreme sacrifice that will give get-up-and-go to those who in recent times have been spewing platitudes from various ramparts and other pedestals.

Parliament has becomes a travesty! The BJP did the same when they were in opposition and the Congress party is now giving the Nation the split cheek. Parliament doles out freebies….oops! That should read ‘subsidies’, to our Parliamentarians so that they can continue with their outlandishly reprehensible behaviour.

If anybody wants to know what the larger picture of our country is – all they have to do is check out our educational institutions (private or otherwise) and related systems.

How long are we going to give-up everything for our elected leaders? How in the name of all that is decent, do they get elected? I am paying taxes, filing returns (with my CA sniggering in not so subtle a manner – considering that my income, for some years now, is actually not taxable) . But file I must.

I don’t think that my mann ki baat  could have been described better as in the following open letter.


Douglas Adams, in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, has said that “The major problem – one of the major problems, for there are several – one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.”

Alack! Whilst I was busy putting some pieces together, my potato was taken away and am left with an empty basket.

Oh! By-the-way, those who have been asking me to write something from my field diary – there was once this leopard………….

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