“Bob,” said an editor, “About these reforms our leaders keep talking about, find out if people want reforms or not.”
“Of course we want reforms,” said Pandu the office peon, “I want editor sahib to be reformed. Today I have both ulcer and blood pressure, because editor sahib and you and all the staff think Pandu has ten legs like octopus. Pando go to post, Pandu bring, tea, Pandu answer phone! And if Pandu be slow, Pandu fired. If Pandu sick, Pandu’s pay cut. Pandu is all for reforms, please write down Bob sahib, Pandu all for reforms!”
I walked out of the office to the road below, I looked at the high rise buildings and to the slums that nestled next to them. The slum dweller brushing his teeth with a twig gave me a dirty look as I ambled to him. “Yes, yes, I want reforms,” he grunted. “This country needs reforms, so my wife and children don’t have to squat on railway tracks, and lower their heads whenever a train passes by, so I can brush my teeth decently in a bathroom and not in front of some stranger, like you who keeps interrupting my brushing!”
The man with the beard stepping out of the mosque onto the road, nodded vigorously to me, “I am all for reforms,” he said and his friend who had joined him after his own visit to a temple also nodded vehemently.
“Government should bring Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian together. That is the reform we need very badly; that my friend is as much Indian for being Hindu as I am, being Muslim. That every time Pakistan fights with India or wins a cricket match, my house and family should not be in danger. India needs reforms in people and politicians minds. I should feel safe in this country and only after reforms can this happen. I am all for reforms. Write it down, write it down!”
The old couple sitting outside their broken house cried out to me, “We need reforms,” they shouted, “reforms in the courts so justice is given faster. This builder here has taken our land and thrown us out. He knows when we win the case we will be dead. We have so many MLAs’ and MPs but so few judges. We have a new Parliament building, but less courts.. India needs reforms badly, desperately!”
The editor was still at his desk when I came back with my report. “What did the people say?” he asked.
“They want reforms,” I said.
Then Pandu the peon came in with a cup of tea.
“Idiot!” shouted the editor, “there’s less sugar! Once more and you’re fired!”
Pandu looked at me as I lowered my head..!
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