The disciple smeared his forehead with the required materials. Fine dust settled on his eyelashes which he expertly tapped out with one finger (the middle one, I think).
He lived in an apartment in a busy area. Looking out of his window, he could see the long queue stretching out already outside the ATM. He felt the love for his country swell in his heart. Last night on television, the finance minister had spoken so eloquently about people needing to go through some hardship for a larger cause. Of course, the example of the soldier was inevitable and the disciple’s response was also immediate and inevitable.
His heart swelled with pride every time he heard about how the soldiers were fighting for their mother country. His country – it belonged to him and he was himself, like the soldier fighting terrorists, ready to lay down his life for his country. He was ready to take lives also. People who criticized the country, people who didn’t deify his gods and goddesses, people who criticized the country, people who criticized the government, people who criticized the army, people who didn’t want to give up their lands for the larger good of the country, and now…………people who didn’t want to make a sacrifice by standing at ATMs for days on end and people who just didn’t understand why they were being put through so many hardships under the new scheme called demonetization.
The disciple felt a familiar rage growing in the pit of his stomach. The ingratitude of people made him furious. Every time someone criticized his Prime minister or the government that he had helped bring to power, he felt rage. This rage multiplied several times over, when someone criticized the soldiers. For the disciple, soldiers were not average men and women who were accountable as any other person was. The soldier was the hero of a real life movie. All the soldier’s decisions had a higher ideal and all his actions were steeped in nobleness.
Thus immersed in his philosophical thoughts, he asked his mother for another hundred rupee note from her savings. He had already asked her to take the few five hundred rupee notes that she had in her savings and get them converted to hundreds. He had put a word to the manager who was a close acquaintance of his sister, to allow his mother to bypass the queue and get the transaction done directly and without having to stand in a line like the working class. The bank manager who loved the disciple’s sister’s idli’s and innocent(like a jasmine) smile, had readily obliged.
When he went to work, the disciple met his boss, who had allotted him some work for the day. The boss had complained that morning about some of the lower level staff who had applied for leave to go and conduct their various financial transactions. The boss had bemoaned the irresponsibility of the staff. He had also praised the disciple for coming to work on time instead of just rushing off the queue up at an ATM.
“yathA hyekena chakreNa na rathasya gatir_bhavet |evam puruSha_kAreNa vinA daivam na sidhyati ||” said the disciple. The boss’s eyes swelled up with unshed tears on hearing this and although he hadn’t understood a word, he gathered that it would have been profound, having come from his cross thread wearing disciple’s own mouth.
The disciple had a chat with his subordinates that day. He made his unhappiness with their behavior extremely clear to them. “Yes, money is important’ he said ‘but the work you do is your god. If you give up work just to run behind money, then I am sorry to say that you are still caught up in a terrible materialistic state of existence. When will you people go beyond these day to day things and look at work as a service you do for a larger purpose?’
On observing one of the housekeeping staff spitting and muttering something that sounded a lot like his name, he threatened to dismiss her the very next day. His intolerance for bad behavior was largely known, so the lady’s behavior had irked him no end. He thought to himself that she would have to be cut down to size quite soon. As a boss, it was his duty to ensure that these servants did not misbehave and any sign of misbehavior would have to be nipped in the bud, failing which anarchy would prevail.
He calmed his senses by shopping online. As he swiftly entered his debit card details, he saw another of his low ranking staff going around holding a five hundred rupee note and asking for change. “These people’ he thought to himself ‘the things they do in their work hours.’ He made a mental note to punish those two recalcitrant staff. He felt happy with himself – with his love for his country and its leaders and its soldiers. The few people he felt no love for were those who worked under him and who went around begging for change. Those he knew, were the real enemies.