By the time you read this, the greatest election that mankind has ever known will be over. The Man from Madras Musings alludes to the battle for the ballot at one of those gentlemen’s clubs in the city. A hallowed home-away-from-home for over a century and more, it has recently seen more activity in the bar, by which MMM speaketh of the legal variety. Accusations of torts and malfeasances hold court, not to forget soccage and barratry in fief. But that is the way of all things in Madras-turned-Chennai, isn’t it?
Anyway, it is not the build-up that led to the present elections, held under the watchful eye of the law that MMM wants to speak about. The behaviour of the electoral hopefuls has, on the other hand, given plenty of grist to MMM’s mill. Several of these, who invariably looked through MMM all along, have now suddenly become friendly. What was once an eye like Mars, so to speak, has become an eye like Ma’s, full of the milk of human kindness. Having descended from their lofty heights they have begun taking cognisance of lesser beings, of whom MMM is also one.
The hopefuls have been calling up over phone. They have sent letters and emails. One group of aspirants has banded together and taken to sending combined appeals. The lone operators are more colourful. Some have printed expensive brochures on themselves, replete with full family details (ideal husband, doting Dad, good to dogs, happiest among books and great guy to have around the home) and social achievements (laid roads, built bridges, planted trees, dug wells and was good to widows and orphans). But more than all this, it is the personal encounters that they specialise in.
The Cheshire Cat is what comes chiefly to mind. MMM has to merely be in the vicinity of one of these suitors to become aware of a powerful and steely grin (is it because of gritted teeth?) being directed at him. Shortly thereafter, the grinner emerges in full and having fixed MMM’s eye with a steady gaze and enveloped MMM’s hand in a vice-like grip, proceeds with his pitch. Pausing briefly to remind MMM as to how he has been kind to MMM in numerous ways in the past, he speaks of how he plans to make the Club another Eden, a sceptred isle and a paradise on earth. All this is accompanied by steady gyrations, beseeching looks, heavy breathing and profuse sweating. After this follows a litany against the competition in the field. Then the final shot: “But with your support I definitely will make it.” By then another potential vote has been espied and so off he bounds, his figure not giving the least indication of such agility. MMM is not certain about the electoral verdict but these candidates will definitely emerge fitter and more svelte.
Some have taken to canvassing in such earnestness that they smile and shake hands with just about anyone. One of these even embraced a passing waiter thinking him to be a member. The shock was too much to bear for both and they had to be revived with a few quick ones.
But, as MMM says, it is only a question of time. The results will soon be out and everyone will revert to hauteur, stiff-upper-lip and spreading embonpoints. Until the next battle for the ballot, that is.