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|3rd December 2005, 15:19||#1|
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Jaipur -- Pune
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India to produce 2,00,000 Harias tomorrow
Haria stands silently near the Ganesh temple. He is purposefully clad in the dirtiest and the most tattered clothes in the world so that his filthy and wounded hands in conjunction with his robe could produce a disgust provoking synergy which forces the bikers on the red light to pop out some coins before he touches them and lends them the fatal infection which would render them lifeless in no time. Haria is jealous of Pappu though. The moment he throws the remnants of his amputated arm towards someone, he shrieks in horror and shoos him away by giving him whatever he has in his pocket. People like Pappu make Haria wonder as to how lucky could people ever get in their life.
I know you must be wondering about the particulars of Haria and what do you have to do with such a disgustingly wicked creature. How could I tell when nobody actually knows who he is. I mean nobody actually knows anything about his father. The identity of his father is a raging controversy among the shopkeepers surrounding the temple. The owners of prasad shops think that he is an offspring of Jaggu Bhikhari who used to keep his mother along with him in corporation’s unused sewage pipe before he was killed and thrown in the gutter by the policewallahs. He had committed the crime of not paying the weekly security charges to them and went pretty vocal with them on the issue. The flower vendors on the other side of the market, however, have different views. They are quite sure that Jaggu was not the one, as his mother was taken several times to the police station at late hours in the night after the incident. The Sipahis and the incharge are the more logical probables for them. This uncertainty about Haria’s origin had, at one time, led to another serious ambiguity, as nobody knew what to call him. While some called him ‘H******’ others differed by calling him ‘Bh****’. There were other adjectives also, which he was offered to adorn as the noun for him, but before he grew intelligent enough to make a choice, his mother interfered quickly to give him his proper name.
Haria is a professional. Ever since he started walking, he was taught how to sift through the waiting traffic to ask for alms. He is pretty adept at his job. His height is around 3 feet. His field of vision is exactly in line with the riders’ pockets. This helps. He could easily make his choice among the scores of prospects which he is supposed to interact with. Very professionally he makes his choice, draws close and then in the flash of a moment puts his gammy hand in the rider’s field of vision. Once the rider reaches a sickened state of mind, he extends his arm, trying to reach out for some exposed part of his body. Most of the times, he immediately gets a coin or two from the frightened rider, but in case it doesn’t happen, he quickly switches to another prospect without wasting any time. He doesn’t even approach cars as he has been told that it won’t be as rewarding since he won’t be able to intimidate the passengers through the glass of side windows.
Haria has grown up among a jungle of steel rims and rubber tyres. Nothing on the road could ever hit him. The live things which fall at the altitude of his vision are usually hips and bellies. Fat bellies, slim bellies, normal bellies, abnormal bellies, male bellies, female bellies, bellies that are full, bellies which are suffering with constipation, bellies with non-vegitarian food inside, bellies with ice cream inside, bellies that are never full, bellies that could never be filled, there are all the types of bellies in his view. None of the bellies is like his though. In fact it’s hard to make out whether he has a belly or no. It’s so small and slim that people sometimes think of him as an alien and give him the money even before he extends his arm.
Haria starts off from one side of the road as the red light turns on, with a perfect ticker running above his shoulder. He exploits the innocent people with his wicked idea of earning money and then hits the footpath on the other side of the road exactly before the light turns green. He has never failed at doing that, because he knows that the day he does, he would be history, just like his closest friend Ballu. Ballu actually had the advantage of not having a leg. One of the times Ballu got trapped for the bait of 5 rupees. He waited for the money as the plump, fat, red and kind youngster struggled to take the note out from his front pocket even when the lights had turned green. Though the money involved justified the risk taken, Ballu, with just one leg, wasn’t as quick as most of the vehicles on the road. Ever since the incident happened, Haria is particularly conscious of his timing on the road.
On the other side of the road, there is a chat shop. It’s embellished with all sorts of fruits and other tongue tickling delicacies. As the evening draws, a crowd of tastefully dressed, overly pleasant smelling people huddles around that shop. This used to be the spot for Haria and Ballu in their good times for some of the most enjoyable feasts of their life. People who came to this stall were especially kind. They threw the paper plates of chat in the dustbin without licking it even once. Both the friends had a ball so many times near the dustbin, licking plates which tasted so good that one wouldn’t mind dieing if he got to eat the full plate. Ballu once told Haria that he found a completely uneaten plate of Bhel Puri in the dustbin. In the first instance, Haria didn’t believe him. “C****** banata hai sssala”, he had exclaimed. He was quite logical in not believing Ballu. How in the world could someone throw a full plate of Bhel Puri in the dustbin? But once Haria realized that Ballu had actually gotten lucky, he didn’t talk with him for two days. He started talking with him only when Ballu promised that the next time he found such a good thing, he would share it with him. But all this fun didn’t last for long, as one day Haria’s maa spotted him around the dustbin. For her, this was totally revolting and unacceptable. She held him by the hair and dragged him right till the sewage pipe, their home that is. There she slapped her continuously for half an hour till he understood that it was not right to be so unprofessional. Luckily his mother caught him on time, had he continued for some more days, he would have grown fat, which could have been a disaster for his daily collections. Haria’s mother is especially particular about the collections of her son. She is not as practical as some of her other counterparts. She doesn’t want Haria’s hand to be severed if the collections fall below a certain limit. Nobody understands why she doesn’t want that to happen even when the earnings simply double after the process. Even though Haria has been pretty strong on the charts so far, she doesn’t want to take any chances
Day comes and goes, night falls. Haria’s mother keeps working. Overtime. He simply doesn’t understand where she goes with so many people every evening. He finds her sleeping by his side in the morning though. He doesn’t even bother as he is getting more intelligent and older every day. Quite literally. As every day passes, his complexion turns even darker than what seemed to be the darkest possible the previous day. With every passing day, his belly turns slimmer; the wound in his hand gets pulpier, his eyes protrude out one more nanometer, the layer of skin over his ribs gets thinner.
Haria, by the way, is not one-of-a-kind bhikhari. Lakhs of Harias are getting produced everyday with the exploding population; people like you and me who are not Harias exist just in residual proportions. These Harias continuously, untiringly wait on the roadside for the light to turn red, with their respective clocks working perfectly and getting even more perfect with every outing. Those who are not as perfect die, under the wheels of our exposed bikes and insulated cars. Those who survive to suffer become a vote. The production of such Harias is always encouraged. They play a vital role in country’s development by helping the greatest leaders in finding a chair for themselves. Even the thoughts of forcing a law on family planning are hushed. Harias keep getting produced and the volume of the traffic at the red-light keeps getting denser. That’s doesn’t increase their earnings though, as the number of Harias increases exponentially to the number of fat bellies and tyres and rims. We now honk horns, eat smoke, get frustrated and nod our heads in disgust at places where we used to test the top speeds of our bikes and felt like god. We now give a second thought to taking our bike to the ghats because for that we’ll have to get through the never-ending traffic and ever-demanding Harias. Those who are not as enduring as us have stopped biking at all, being fed up by the Harias and the traffic. We never give it a thought though, because we are not the ones who are concerned. It’s the government’s job. Government, which loves Harias, as they keep it in power. Power, which everybody wants. Now who is more ignorant, the government, Haria, or us? You tell me.
Last edited by Shan2nu : 3rd December 2005 at 15:25.
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