The sky had roared and the footstep of the rain was heard at distance. The cigarette that he held in his hand was melting. Pattabhi Sir to me is incomplete without his cigarette and his silence. These to, to me, are a part of his identity. But still always I am waiting to listen to what he says. Vishnu was also with us. Vishnu, for a change had not triggered any topic for discussion. Or else, usually its he who opens the innings. In that dimly lit rooftop of the restaurant all the people existing were involved in the viewing of the final match of IPL.
I told Pattabhi that I had finished reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart a few days ago. It set the ball rolling. From Achebe’s novel we went to Ngugi Wa Thiango’s Decolonizing The Mind, where he criticizes Achebe for having written in English, though not only Achebe in specific. This made Pattabhi take us to the realm of the language and its politics. Speaking of masters language and its politics Pattabhi mentioned about how masters language was used against them during freedom struggle in India and how most of the leaders of it were lawyers and how the system of law and court was a colonial concept. As it rained, as his nth cigarette melted, he told an interesting fact about how the colonial powers selected slaves to West Indies. He said, no slave knew the language of the other slave. This was to avoid the possibility of the slaves communicating with each other and becoming familiar with each other and the possibility of they revolting against the master. Our discussion continued and Pattabhi took the entire discussion to a different level thereafter. But when he narrated the story of West Indies, I was reminded of an incident that had taken place a few weeks ago.
Our office staff Veena stopped me as I was going out to grab a cup of coffee. She told me that she needed a favor from me. I asked her what was it and she told me that I had to speak to the person who is in-charge of transferring the security guards in the University. I had to speak because the man in-charge knew neither Kannada nor English and Veena wasn’t very comfortable with Hindi. As I walked with her she told me what had happened and what was I supposed to do.
The security guard who was in our institute for some time now was transferred to some other place and our Director insisted that he has to be placed in our institute again for he is accustomed to the way our college works and that we have no complaints against him and there was no need to transfer him. And importantly the guard had to be re-placed in MIC.
I called up the man in-charge and asked him if the security guard can be re-posted to MIC and said him- “He was with us from a long time and he had become familiar with the place so we want him back”. The reply was shocking! The voice from the other side said, “That exactly is the problem. He got familiar with the place. We don’t keep a guard in a place for long because they become familiar with the place and the people there. This will not let them do their job. If they are in one place for long, they will make friends there and don’t work properly”. What could have I done other than saying “ok” and disconnecting the phone?
Is it a crime to have human interaction?
07 June 2008