A pothole opens up about its life – one peppered with moments of luck, achievement and helplessness (and official secrets, of course)
Unless you are a Member of Parliament (and have been one all your life), you might have some recollection of me (or at least a few of my kind). You may remember me from the street your house sits on, or from one of the many humbling encounters I play host to daily.Or you might have heard about our kind from the media’s annual week-long pothole coverage fest. Not that we covet the limelight. Why, publicity is seriously detrimental to our very existence! We are extremely grateful that we have hitherto stayed aloof from politics despite having existed for generations. Who can blame our netas, though; they are busy saving the economy, running their many family businesses and fighting their own court cases.
They tell me I was conceived at then (and current) councillor Tiwari Sahib’s office…
Returning to my own story — I don’t really have a concrete date of birth, but I do remember growing rapidly into my current (rather prominent) size. They tell me I was conceived at then (and current) councillor Tiwari Sahib’s office. It turns out Tiwari Sahib’s younger brother ran a fledgling road construction business. And Tiwariji is a family man. So the contract was awarded, followed by extensive discussions with architects, engineers and manufacturers which enabled the eventual construction, albeit a couple of months late. Efficient as he was, the brother was able to make quite a bit for himself as well, though at the cost of the road itself.
Skip to July, and there I was, small but ambitious, shallow but confident. They did come occasionally, the municipality people, to fill the larger ones of my kind (maintenance, they call it). Like skilled sculptors, they carefully added layer upon layer of tar, until even the flimsiest little pothole became a prominent, protruding speed bump. I have remained untouched, though, for I am shallow enough to be unnoticeable, yet large enough to have become quite a landmark.
I have played home to quite a few casualties in my life, each of which I am extremely regretful for, though I refuse to take the unilateral blame for any of them. Whose fault is it, though? Our forefathers taught us the fundamental principle of the separation of man and road. Roads host vehicles. Pavements host man. But what is hopeless about our era is that pavements are no less ridden with encroachment, cars and bikers-in-a-hurry than roads themselves. Where do people walk, then? Anywhere! If, in doing so, a person or two walks right onto me, they are only free to curse their fate (and the government, of course).
I do wish you happy (and safe) future journeys… because I am here to stay (the elections are still far away)!
Talking of government, it’s been quite a long time since I saw a neta! In fact, it was Tiwariji himself, who, now in the Opposition, tripped and fell right over me as he was leading an anti-pothole rally last August. I never took offense, though, for I know he recognizes as much as me that my kind form the silent majority on the country’s roads. Moreover, his colleagues seldom come our way — they tread the good roads downtown.
That has been my life, and there is still a long way to go! I do wish you happy (and safe) future journeys, though, because I am here to stay (the elections are still far away)!
Also published at HuffPost India