by B Srivasthav
Is this what I built all the empire for? Where do I go from here? What do I do next? These were some of the thoughts running through the mind of Ramanna, a feudal lord and an outgoing MLA.
Ramanna and his ancestors held a tight grip on the coastal city of Vizag in Andhra Pradesh. He and his family were highly respected, sometimes out of love but mostly out of fear. He had meticulously cultivated his image as a leader, each of his public events was planned to the finest detail. No stone was left unturned to project him as a visionary, a messiah of the poor, a man the city needs.
Out of the blue comes Shiva, another feudal lord of Vizag having strong backing from the fishermen community. Politics is a stage for endless possibilities a week is a long time… It was all over, Shiva was the winning candidate, he defected to the rival party and replaced Ramanna as the MLA.
Power is infectious and addictive. Once you have tasted power, you don’t want to let go of it. You cannot let go of it. Ramanna was restless. He kept thinking about his image, his hold on the people and most importantly, his various business interests. He contemplated all possibilities that could help him stay the same without power.
He is lost in thought, thinking of his next move, when his son Karthik walks in and touches his feet, a daily morning practice. As Ramanna moves to say “baaga undu” (stay well) and lifts him, he feels the strong biceps of his son, the smart looks, the well-dressed young lad, something which Ramanna failed to notice all these years, in his busy public life.
Ramanna looks into the eyes of his son and there he sees an opportunity, the answer to all the thoughts that were racing in his mind.
Karthik was perplexed to see his father’s unusual reaction, signalled to Ramanna’s secretary to take care of him, and left. Ramanna glanced at his secretary and said: “Pelli choopulu siddam cheyandi” (start the wedding preparation). The secretary, as usual, was unaware of what was running in his boss’s mind but from years of association, he knew he had a plan up his sleeve.
Politicians don’t have adversaries in their personal lives; that’s only to keep the media and the public busy. Political adversaries are described as WWE wrestlers, performing stunts.
Ramanna knew about Shiva’s only daughter Radhika. A wedding between Radhika and Karthik would settle many scores. It would be a win-win situation for both Ramanna and Shiva. The mutual dependencies in politics are beyond the understanding of common man and it is this dependency that Ramanna wanted to encash on.
With the wedding, Ramanna could still have a hold on his constituency and become a part in the decision-making. Shiva could never get a better alliance than Ramanna, as this would give him more access to the strongholds of Ramanna. Karthik was young and smart while Radhika, pretty and educated. Ramanna was sure Shiva would not decline this offer; he knew exactly how a politicians mind works. And he was confident that his son would not dare to go against his words.
Ramanna worked the phone lines with Shiva and his other confidantes. As expected, Shiva was more than glad for the alliance. Ramanna was relieved,. He patted himself for his smart thinking and ability to turn difficulties into opportunities.
It was late evening when he settled down for a drink, something which he had stopped of late owing to his health conditions. But today was different – he had to celebrate.
The wedding idea had kept him busy throughout the day. When he switched on the TV to catch up on the tamasha known as news debates, he expected bold tickers saying ‘Ramanna loses to Shiva’, ‘The mighty fall of Ramanna’ or some news anchors and panellists screaming at each other
To his surprise, the ticker was saying ‘Sofia steals Karthik’s heart’. Ramanna thinks it’s the drink playing mischief with his mind and toggles to another channel. Only to read on the ticker “Instagram sensation Sofia to wed Karthik”.
That no-good numbskull idiot of a son of mine! Stabbed me in the back….
Ramanna fell to the floor, shouted to his secretary “Sofia gurinchi telusukondi” (learn about Sofia) and passed out.
This piece was written as part of the Short Story Writing Workshop. It has been edited by Rashmi Bansal.