by Dr. Madhav Prabhu
This article is not a judgment on the merits of a statue or what alternatives the money could produce, I have to make this clear, as many otherwise would indulge in unnecessary debates. This is merely my small ” Dil hai chotasa, choti si asha “. The “I” here is the AAM Adami (Common man), not the political one, the real world one.
I could be anyone from the clerk in a college to a shopkeeper in Khade bazar. The “I” is not known to many except my family, a few friends, and immediate neighbors. My only identity is my Aadhar Card, in the event of losing which I don’t exist. I pay for everything as nothing comes free and everyday pray for a better tomorrow. So that is how I introduce me and so let’s move to my “choti si asha”.
Recently there has been a spate of statues being built all over the country and also in Belagavi, statues ranging from freedom fighters to God’s, to rivers to kings from the past and so on and so forth, statues are the only way in contemporary times to make someone great. In fact this statue thing is not new, ever since independence every leader has erected them in his lifetime or made provision after his death. The competition to make a taller one adds novelty now to the idea of erecting one.
The idea of commissioning a statue or a bust is not actually Indian and it’s I assume a Greek or British influence, because, I haven’t seen many in our history, but then statues are forever and its a great idea. Statues are like statements for political parties and are lucrative options to appease voters who cannot be otherwise pleased by five years of incompetence. I have nothing against statues and I take pride that the tallest one is in India, if not tall personalities we have tall statues at the least.
In fact, I am such a big fan of the statue concept that I feel I should have a statue of my own and so does almost every hardworking middle-class man in Belagavi, this is our “Choti si asha”. I know you will disagree or even ridicule the idea, but let me present my logic and maybe you will agree.
Firstly I have to make it clear that I am not a politician, so I have no conflicts of interest, I am merely an ordinary person with my own little problems and this life taking problems to add only struggle to my life. I have no party to bail me out from these perils nor do I have banks which allow me to take soft unsolicited loans and default on them. Every time I win over my problems I am happy and feel as if I have won over the world, and this to me is the reason why I deserve a bust of my own.
” I ” am the iron man of my own life and the challenges are not small. I have to work every day without a vacation, if I need to take a vacation I have to plan it and yet it can all go wrong, my colleague’s grandmother can fall sick or my bosses dog could die and my leaves could be canceled, down goes the vacation promised for years to my family. For most people a vacation is once in a life and when I see a politician having them on my money under the guise of study tours, health care or international relationships my heart burns. We can’t show Goa to our kids and the new age kings are on world tours sponsored by the hard earned money I pay as taxes, is this sacrifice made by my family not good enough to build a statue of me.
Most of us in Belagavi had ancestors who fought for the freedom of our country, interestingly here we have pedigree of families who fought the British and the Portuguese, but none of them asked for political positions or the compensatory pensions too, they did it for their country, they did it for themselves, they did it for their freedom, imagine if every one of them asked for a statue or the prime ministers office, is their sacrifice not greater. Me belonging to such a pedigree feel left out as only a few families get all the busts and accolades.
Well coming back to my statue, like I said, I work and work till I have no strength in me, I work in the day and in the night, I earn whatever my office pays me which is usually just sufficient for the first twenty days of the month, the last ten go in jugad and if not for our understanding better halves none would sustain the month. The salary I earn is a truncated version of the on paper salary, there are taxes, there is the Provident fund, there are loan installments and sometimes I have to contribute for my bosses birthdays, my companies anniversary and so on depending on my bosses mood. I have to contribute for celebrations in my street and the nearest Yuvak Mandal, failing which I am a spoilsport.
Despite all this we middle class also manage to contribute whatever we can to the prime ministers and chief ministers relief funds, ask your parents from Belagavi and they will tell you they ate only once when Lal Bahadur Shastriji said we had a shortage due to war, this is selfless love for the country, contributing what little we have, is this not better than an Aerial survey done by most angels of relief material from the ruling class.
We salaried class are almost the exclusive taxpayers of the country, the two percent who honestly pay their taxes, the two percent who contribute to the luxuries of the politicians and the bills of all the loan waivers and freebies promised by them. Does this selflessness not deserve a statue.
An average Belgaukar spends ninety percent of his week working, he has to manage his family with what little he gets, he has to leave home early because there will be some towering personality with his demi-Gods(aka karyakartas) who will block Rani Chennamma Circle or take out a Morcha to show their might, most politicians have this knack to neither do their job well not let others give it a try, imagine the daily wages worker affected by the whims and fancies of morchawalas.
We know how it feels to miss a politician in action because they are missing for most days of their five years of service and suddenly appear just before elections, but what’s unimaginable is missing my bhajiwala or dudhwala or a maid for a day, and yet the politicians don’t let them work too. We for a change are not interested in morchas or bandhs, we work till we are exhausted and can take no more, we are the productive labors of the nation and yet it’s not us but the politicians which deserve their statues isn’t this an irony.
My struggles at work are compounded at home, I have to own up to my wife taking off her frustrations on me and the demands of my kids, I have to balance my ever increasing expenditure with my never increasing salary, I give up subsidies so that my brothers who are less fortunate can be helped, I give up spending on myself so nobody in the household feels neglected. People give up living and become statues in this lifetime so that their kids have a better life, a lifetime is spent in working and growing our kids, there is no time for yourself till we outgrow our desires by our age, the life is spent struggling to compromise our desires and still we don’t get a statue at the end of the day, so unfair.
I vote diligently in all elections, the political party, the politicians keep changing, the promises keep changing, yet my city never gets smart, every time I am let down, no work happens without bribes as we ordinary citizens have no influential godfathers, we stand in queue and keep paying dues, we trust our politicians and each time they mock our trust, yet we believe and vote then back, does this blinding faith in democracy not call for a statue of the faithful in itself.
I look at the roads and the potholes compete with the patchwork, I don’t complain, I ride home hoping everyone comes home safe, the potholes kill only our children. The contractors, engineers, politicians all earn from the potholes only I have to lose my dear ones, is this not a sacrifice.
Potholes are giving moksha to commoners, it is our exclusive mode of mortality, a single life is precious only if it belongs to a celebrity, mine ends in an obituary in local papers. Roads are made to greet the president, the common man is greeted with dust and put holes, is this sacrifice not great enough.
Somewhere in this statute for statues, the common man has lost his identity and his will. We have reached a day when every state wants a statue of the dead but not relief for those alive.
In all this, it is” I ” the common man who is happy to live in the country with the tallest statue. Sometimes “I” wonders if, for doing all this do I not deserve a statue of his own, for otherwise I will live a life unknown and die without my memory.
Ironically the only contribution that will survive is the statues built by my government in memory of the politicians who squeezed the life out of me. I strongly believe that if at all there has to be a statue, it has to be of the common man and should be called the statue of sacrifice. The only problem I foresee is that of space, I could not get one to build my own home too. Today when there malls in every street, where do we place this statue of sacrifice dedicated to the common man.
“Is berehem duniya me Kabar pe bhi mall bangaye, mera afsana kya khaakh hoga “. Yet I believe someday I will have a statue for all that I have contributed, do you agree?