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Miscellanea/A Ganesh Nadar

An aeroplane, bow and arrow, bulb....

'... and brother shall turn against brother.'

'Am I my brother's keeper?'

-- Kane & Abel (Old Testament)

August 31

The panchayat election had been announced. The villagers were excited. The last time they had a chance to elect a president was almost a decade back. Prabhakaran was happy. He had won the last election, beating five other candidates. He planned to repeat the feat.

Murugesapandi also wanted to contest the election with Rajarathinam's support. He phoned Rajarathinam in Madras. ''Anachi (elder brother), the elections have been announced, I want to file my nomination, when will you come?'' ''What's the hurry? Relax," said Rajarathinam.

Murugesapandi was shocked. He had expected support and enthusiasm, not a gruff reply. He immediately consulted Prabhakaran. Prabhakaran said ''I am standing for the post of president, why don't you stand for the union council member from our village?'' Murugesapandi agreed reluctantly.

September 1

Nalumavadi school correspondent Murugesan thought he had a good chance to win the election. He consulted his friends who supported his idea. Alagesan also from Nalumavadi village was egged on by his cronies to contest the poll.

In East Nalumavadi, Damodarapandi thought he had the best chance to win the election. He had a video shop in Kurumbur. He rented out televisions, video cassette recorders and cassettes. ''We'll show free movies on every street,'' he told his supporters.

In Thirumalapuram, a group of villagers decided to put up a candidate. They chose Nagaraj.

In Panickanadarkudieruppu Ranjan decided to join the fray. All the young boys in the village, he felt, would support him.

In Madras, Yogarajan was sitting in Rajarathinam's house and chatting. Rajarathinam said, ''Ganesh should be back today or tomorrow.'' ''No chance, he's just gone to Bombay, he'll be back after a fortnight,'' said Yogarajan emphatically. ''He's supposed to be a journalist, don't you think he'll read the papers? He must have seen the election announcement,'' said Rajarathinam.

''Ganesh hasn't seen his friends for the last six months, it'll take more than an election to shift him out of Bombay in a hurry,'' said Yogarajan. ''Listen! I am not joking. I want him back immediately. You find him,'' said Rajarathinam.

September 2

It was 7 in the morning. The phone rang shrilly. Krishnan picked up the phone sleepily. He listened, nodded and then woke Ganesh up. ''Haven't you seen the papers?" yelled Yogarajan. ''What about?'' asked Ganesh. ''The panchayat election has been announced, Rajarathinamanachi has asked you to take the first flight to Trivandrum and from there you go straight home,'' said Yogarajan.

Ganesh was irritated. ''Is tomorrow the last date for filing nominations?" he asked sarcastically. "No, nominations can be filed from the 3rd to the 10th September,'' said Yogarajan. ''Fine, I'll file on the 10th," said Ganesh. ''You can't do that, 10th is a Tuesday, and Tuesday is not an auspicious day,'' said Yogarajan.

"I'll reach PNK on Sunday, we'll file on the 9th," said Ganesh. "Anachi won't like that, why don't you phone him?'' suggested Yogarajan. ''I'll do that after I book my ticket,'' said Ganesh firmly. He tried, but couldn't go back to sleep.

September 4

Murugesan was the first candidate from Nalumavadi village to file his nomination at the union office in Thenthiruperai.

September 5

Nagaraj was the second candidate to file his nomination.

September 8

Kurumbur bazaar was bustling with activity. Alagesan and his supporters were sitting in the sugarcane juice shop. Prabhakaran was standing outside the non-veg hotel. Ganesh was passing by. Prabhakaran said, ''I hear you are standing for the election, Best of Luck!'' "The same to you," said Ganesh. Then they hugged each other.

The villagers were amused. "Let's see how long this affection lasts, next week they'll be abusing each other,'' said one villager.

Ganesh went to Rajarathinam's rice mill. Rajarathinam had just driven down from Madras. ''Tomorrow morning -- 7.30 am to 9 am -- is Rahu Kalam, (inauspicious time). After that we'll do a puja in our Ganesha temple and then go file your nomination. Who have you chosen to nominate you?'' asked Rajarathinam. ''Kili Nadar and Vel Nadar,'' said Ganesh. "Have you informed them?" he asked. "Yes, and I've also told the priest that we'll go to the temple after 9 am."

September 9

Rajarathinam, Kili Nadar, Vel Nadar, Veeravel and Ganesh prayed at the Ganesha temple and travelled to Kurumbur. They reached Kurumbur at 10 am. Vel Nadar said ''10.30 am to 12 noon is Emakandam (inauspicious) so we should file the nomination after twelve." Everybody agreed.

Lottery-ticket seller S M Pandian asked Ganesh, "You haven't filed your nomination yet?" "In a little while," said Ganesh. Alagesan and his gang waited in the sugarcane juice shop. Prabhakaran was in the stainless steel shop. Damodarapandian was in his video shop.

At the Thenthiruperai union office Damodarapandian had just finished filing his papers when Ganesh walked in with his supporters. Damodarapandian's cousin glared at Ganesh. Ganesh ignored him and filled in the form. Kili Nadar nominated him. Rajarathinam paid the deposit. They were waiting for the receipt.

Alagesan came in and asked for a form. He sat at the next table and started filling the form. Prabhakaran walked in and sat down next to Ganesh. They nodded at each other. Murugesapandi and Kartheesan had come with Prabhakaran. Ganesh collected his receipt and left.

On his way out he passed Kartheesan who said, ''If I had known you would be here, I would've brought a stick." "Why?" "To protect myself in case you decided to bite," said Kartheesan.

September 10

Ranjan was the only candidate who filed his nomination on Tuesday.

September 11

The day the nominations were scrutinised. All the candidates visited the union office to make sure nothing went wrong. None of the nominations were rejected.

September 12

There was a big crowd inside Alagesan's house. Murugesan had come there with his supporters. "We are cousins, we belong to the same village, if we both stand, our village vote will be divided and somebody from PNK will win, you want that to happen?" demanded Murugesan.

"You are already the school correspondent, I am not even a member of the school board -- none of my friends are," said Alagesan. "Okay, we'll put you, or whoever you nominate on the school board, now withdraw," said Murugesan. They argued and finally Alagesan agreed to withdraw.

September 13

Alagesan withdrew his nomination in the morning.

At 3 pm all the six candidates assembled at the Thenthiruperai union office. Murugesan said, "If we have a dancing competition, Ganesh will win." Everybody laughed.

The electoral officer showed the candidates the symbols and said, ''We'll draw lots to chose the symbol." He wrote their names on small pieces of paper and rolled them up. He put the pieces of paper into a small pot. He then went out and brought a small boy. The boy picked up the first name - Damodarapandian got a bow and arrow. Murugesan's symbol was an aeroplane. Nagaraj got a lorry. Ranjan got a bulb.

Ganesh a lighthouse and Prabhakaran a hand-roller.

The officer then gave the candidates forms to write their expenditure. "Your budget should remain below Rs 10,000," he warned.

All the walls in the village are painted with symbols. Prabhakaran has launched the most vigorous campaign. Murugesan is moving about aggressively. Ganesh is going from house to house distributing pamphlets. They say Ganesh's father was a great philanthropist, Ganesh is a linguist, a journalist and an accomplished man in convincing government officials.

The other three candidates haven't started their campaign yet.

Ganesh Nadar

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