He shouted at the peak of his voice as he saw the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) vehicle approaching towards his tea-stall. In a flash went down the bamboo dragging down the tent along. Our eyes pervaded in anxiety - Will he survive the day?
Cluttered with thelas and redis stormed the vehicle towards Pappu's stall as my heart throbbed, "Please! Save it .. just for today." In a gaze of fear and hope stood Pappu as the vehicle neared; it had slowed down. Fortunate for him, the vehicle passed away unstopped. "पप्पू, बच गया तुम्हारा दुकान आज..!"(Your stall survived the day Pappu!), I shouted in joy! Pappu straightened his bamboo up, smiling. It was tense!
I sipped another cup of his refreshing tea as I read the newspaper apprising us of the various tales of the legendary actor Dev Anand who passed away a couple of days ago. In another section of the paper, in a corner, appeared Markandey Katju's article. The former Justice of the Supreme Court and the present Chairman of the Press Council of India, Mr Katju, resented over the front page coverage of Dev Anand's death. He contended - "Are the lives of the hundreds of farmers committing suicide on a daily basis inferior than Dev Anand's life"? I could make sense of his contention now.
Me : " कितने दिन पर आती है MCD की गाड़ी ? " (How often does the MCD vehicle come?)
Pappu: " हफ्ता-दस दिन में... " (Once in a week or ten days)
Me :" कितना देते हो? " (How much do you pay[bribe]?)
Pappu: " 100 -125 , दिन अच्छा रहा तो 70 तक में मान जाता है!" (Rs. 100-125 , 70 on a favorable day)
Welcome to the life of a street vendor of the capital city of India! An industrious man who gets up as early as 5:30 in the morning in an ice-cold Delhi to serve us with that morning tea. A man striving to provide to his family the daily bread, leave aside education and health! But belied he stands, of all the promises made in the preamble of his Constitution.
Sounds like a typical scene in a typical Indian movie, ain't it? Only with a slight difference - here, the State is the mafia!