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)
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
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.
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.
Murugesan was the first candidate from Nalumavadi village to file
his nomination at the union office in Thenthiruperai.
Nagaraj was the second candidate to file his nomination.
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."
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.
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
Ranjan was the only candidate who filed his nomination on Tuesday.
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.
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.
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.