The ground was bursting with people. All were waiting for Madhurani. For that matter it was more than an hour since she was expected to arrive. Two three times there was a commotion when people shouted with glee that Madhurani’s car had come and two three times the workers also broke into action. Perhaps someone was purposely raising this false alarm. Indicating that the longer the people are kept waiting more the importance of the leader grows. But they must take care that the public aught not to feel bored while waiting for their leader. They should remain alert and eagerly await their leader’s arrival. Otherwise people who had become tired of waiting would not even know when their leader came and went away. The rumor must also not be spread too often or too quickly, otherwise it would become like the shepherd’s crying out “wolf, wolf”. Politics is a mixture of suitable ingredients, done in a suitable proportion at a suitable time.
Just then Ganeshrao saw some more people from Ujni getting down from another truck. This truck had indeed arrived late because actually the meeting ought to have already started by now. Perhaps this could be the truck’s second trip from Ujni. Ganeshrao had already taken care of the responsibilities given to him and now all he had to do was to wait for Madhurani’s arrival.
To pass his time Ganeshrao again went to the truck that had come from Ujni. On this occasion he met the person who lived in Ujni, going around the nearby villages repairing motor-pump-fans and working as a mechanic. He was still doing the same job.
‘ Baban’ yes he is Baban… he remembered.
The one whom the villagers called ‘Yeda’, the mad, was still a ‘Yeda”.
While the people chatted he repeatedly kept asking, “When would the meeting start? When would the meeting start?”. ..
In that crowd Ganeshrao also saw Sambhajirao who looked after Madhurani’s field. But even after noticing him he pretended as though he had not and he slipped away in the crowd. He also saw Maruti Tailor. But, perhaps being shy by nature, he did not talk to Ganeshrao. He also met Mahada, Lokhandya, Bhika and others who had played cricket in the village. From them he learnt that the younger generation from the village had now taken over the tradition of playing cricket. The cricket players of the new generation had come during the earlier trip. They were planning to request Madhurani for a cricket kit. It seemed that during the last elections Madhurani had voluntarily presented them with a cricket bat. Ganeshrao came to know this from his former colleagues who had played cricket with him. It was a clever move on the part of Madhurani. A cricket kit to the youth would make the entire village pleased. He saw two-three new youngsters. Ganeshrao enquired with someone. He came to know that two of them were sons of Bandu Hotelwala. Their mother and father continued to go from village to village looking after the hotel business. But these youngsters, like vagabonds, were roaming carefree. A villager, while talking about them, had talked ill of them. And it seemed one 15-16 year old youth among them was the son of the dumb-young man. Ganeshrao suddenly remembered the incident of the dumb boy and the dumb girl.
How is the dumb girl doing?
Is she married now?
He was about to ask all these to the villagers when a worker came hurriedly and took away Ganeshrao. While going away, the worker whispered in their ears and told them that there was a likelihood of trouble brewing that day so Madhukarrao has asked everyone to remain alert.
Finally, the rumor proved real. Madhurani’s car and the police vehicles blowing sirens in front and behind arrived. A wave of enthusiasm passed over the crowd that had assembled. People who had gathered stretched their legs, stood up on toes and began to see if they could spot a dot of a sari. After climbing the dais they would have certainly seen the dot of the sari. But no, some people were eager to spot the dot before others did. while climbing the dais. These people went near Madhurani and put huge garlands of fresh flowers around her neck. Who should be allowed to garland her and who shouldn’t be, was the responsibility of Ganeshrao and a few workers who were with him. They had aptly carried out this responsibility. There was no confusion while garlanding Madhurani. Those who were to be allowed to garland were asked to line up in the front on either side of the way on which Madhurani was to walk. After accepting garlands from the people Madhurani was flinging them at the crowd. People pounced and struggled to get hold of a garland or at least a few flowers. Madhurani reached the dais along with four-five leaders. After reaching the centre of the stage she raised her hand and greeted the gathering. In return, people also raised their hands and greeted her. Among so many hands it was not possible for Madhurani to know which hand was whose. But people presumed that Madhurani had seen and waved her hand at them.
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote