Dead Rats and Green Shawls

There was a dead rat, at our doorstep.

Not unnaturally, it raised an unholy stink throughout the whole apartment complex. I would have called it ‘compound’, but it isn’t fashionable to call it so. [Note: the rat reference is not an allusion to any event, past, present or current. It’s purpose will be explained much later, in the manner of great suspense novels/critical essays/contemporary literary works which leave everyone scratching their collective heads, et al]…

To get back to the rat.

Our neighbour is an extraordinarily conscientious person, and before I could even step outside, wondering about how best to remove the carcass, she’d thrown it out, dumped buckets of water over the veranda, and swept it all away briskly.

And that was when we heard trumpets blaring, loudspeakers yelling hoarsely all over the streets, and men calling out that we should “make sure that honest servants of society” are elected to office. Accompanied by MGR songs, of course.


Where Nungambakkam’s concerned, this involves twisting and turning along tiny alleys and roads, navigating through cramped apartments and verandas, and nodding and waving to the family clustered in every such complex. Which is what the candidate did, this evening, approximately around 8.45 PM. He came dressed in regulation white veshti and shirt, with a green ‘ponnaadai” draped over his shoulders, and a battalion of assistants, who all bent themselves double, distributed pamphlets dutifully, and raised their hands above their heads in a great greeting – so well portrayed in our cinema. [And if you still require an exclamation of an arasiyalvadhi’s kumbidu, what the heck are you doing in Chennai, anyway?] And then the candidate promised that he would do any and everything to ensure that the residents of Nungambakkam did not regret his election.

My conscientious neighbour felt duty-bound to elaborate on the Dead Rat, how she had removed its stinking remains to the road/dustbin, how no one ever bothered to recompense the residents of our street during the previous year’s floods …

… and the honoured candidate stood with his mouth slightly open, hands still held in a kumbidu, nodding. Since he had made his opening gambit by swaggering into the compound, aides fluttering around him, all bowing and scraping to the residents and asking us all about “how he could help us,” he had no choice but to listen to my neighbour’s well-timed tirade, which encompassed everything from last year’s water problems, down to today’s dead rat. In the meantime, Aide #1 made subtle noises to Aide#2, to go upstairs to the houses above, distribute pamphlets and scrape more votes.

Our candidate nodded some more, promised the emancipation of all of Chennai in one fell sweep, smiled with such bonhomie that I drew back a little and then, reeking of “spirits,” wove his way unsteadily back to the loudspeaker and MGR, who screamed “Acham enbathu madamaiyadaa, anjamai dravida udamaiyadaaaaa….” and put-put-putted away in his large auto, all his aides hanging outside precariously. And we went back to phenyl, SUN News, and preparations for tomorrow’s Ayudha Pooja.

I have a feeling that the candidate will go home, and when he’s shrugging off his green ponnaadai, complain very loudly about these people who spoilt his mood about dead rats, in the middle of a flourishing auto-run.

4 Comments so far

  1. nandhu (unregistered) on October 1st, 2006 @ 7:26 am

    hey nice story! i cant help laughing. the tamasha of the polls has hardly begun.

  2. Ajay Shroff (unregistered) on October 1st, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

    So typical. I wonder if he really cared.

  3. Lavanya (unregistered) on October 2nd, 2006 @ 5:18 pm


  4. Pavithra (unregistered) on October 7th, 2006 @ 1:02 pm

    NANDHU: True. One can only imagine what’ll happen next. Now the DMK and DMDK people have begun yelling on amplifers. :)

    AJAY: of course he didn’t. He had that pained expression on his face that only comes from listening to long -suffering politicians who sit through this for that big victory. :)

    LAVANYA: Thanks! :)

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