Thursday, April 2, 2009

HiraBen's Confusion.

On seeing the title, if you think that this post is in the likes of Big Ben of London, Sorry! This is not about any Clock tower. This post is about Hiraben.
I will first clarify your doubt which is sprouting in your mind;-).

In Gujarat, all ladies are addressed with a suffix Ben, for e.g., padmaben, prasannaben etc.In short, any lady is addressed as ladyben. OK?
Before proceeding I would like to introduce 2 main characters of my post.

1. Hiraben-Servant maid of our neighbor in Ahmedabad.
2. Buriben-My Servant maid in Ahmedabad.(Age 26)

Hiraben was around 75 years old with minimum number of teeth, tall but slightly bent figure, and her ghagra choli reflecting the rustic look of rural Rajasthan. During my 6 years stay in Ahmedabad, I never understood a single word of hers. But we were cordial with each other exchanging lovely smiles and she used to help me when Buriben went on leave with silly excuses;). Now enough of Hiraben’s description .I will start with the main story.

It was the usual scorching summer of Ahmedabad in the year 2003.Last loksabha elections were held during May month. As usual I tried to educate Buriben with electoral process of our country and explained to her why voting is important. She also participated in the discussions with lots of interest and gave some unique suggestions (!!!), had tea with me and escaped with minimum chores;-) Buriben was a good outlet for me in Ahmedabad .I love talking to somebody or other in spite of linguistic barriers. ;-)
Our language of communication was a mixture of Hindi, Gujarati and sometimes Marathi and Tamil when I lost patience with her;) .But communication with her was far better than hiraben.
Everyday she used to narrate to me how different party people came to their locality and showered gifts on them .Three days before election, one major party had distributed plastic buckets in their locality. I advised her to accept all the gifts from parties because after elections no one will be bothered to give anything to them .But I warned her not to get attracted by these silly gifts and again gave her complete gyan of effect of sincere voting and asked her to stick to her conscience while voting in spite of accepting gifts.

On the Election Day, before Rajendra left to office we went to cast our votes and I returned home. Aditya was very small to share my excitement. But Buriben fuelled my excitement with hot news. Previous night at 2 am, opposition party men had distributed steel tapelis (vessel in Gujarati) in their locality.
Immediately I gave her a warning look. She immediately understood and said that she is going to vote according to her conscience and will not be lured by gifts. Good! I appreciated her. “What about Hiraben?” I asked her with curiosity.
“Arre! Hiraben is not going to vote this time!”
I was shocked. My passion for democracy :-) was too high to accept this.
“But Why?” I asked her. ”Bring Hiraben here” I ordered Buriben.
As usual Hiraben came flashing her teethless innocent smile .
“Are you not voting this time?” I asked Hiraben.
Our interpreter Buri did a good job on that day.
“No! I don’t want to vote! How can I cheat?”Hiraben quipped.
“What cheating? Whom you are going to cheat”
She replied”Three days back I had decided to vote for that plastic bucket party. But yesterday night the opposition party people gave us tapelis. Now whom should I vote for? If I vote for one party it is like cheating the other party. I have received gifts from both of them .See! I am poor! I cannot refuse these gifts. But I have to be sincere and honest too. Those party people have warned us that they have spies in polling booth and will get back the articles from us if we do the cross voting.”
Again I had a tough time in explaining her secrecy of voting process and not to bother about those party men and better stick to her conscience. She was not convinced.
Whole day I was after her and was showing the black dot in my forefinger and at last started pleading;-) with her to go and vote. She started taking pity on me and decided to vote. I asked Buriben (My spy ;-)) to accompany her to polling booth and immediately rushed to our neighbour’s balcony from where I could have a better view of polling Booth's gate to confirm that both of them entered the polling booth which was in our adjacent compound. I gave a huge sigh of relief ,ignored my neighbour’s quizzical look;-) came back home.
On hearing the calling bell, I opened the door to see the victorious duo showing the black dots on their respective fore fingers .I flashed a thankful smile and made them to sit ,switched on the Fan,and rushed to prepare a cool lemon drink for them. I added more sugar in their glasses as an act of Thanksgiving . Hiraben gave a typical smile and enjoyed the cool drink on that sunny day.
“So, finally did you vote with your conscience or was your decision based on the gifts? Bucket party or tapeli party?” I asked both of them.
Before Buriben gave her answer , Hiraben was quick in replying me. ”Let both the parties go to hell. I voted for some independent candidate. I don’t know his name ;-)
Whoever comes to power there will not be any progress in our what big difference it is going to make. Any way thanks for your sharbat. It was nice.”
Her knowledge in Indian politics made her appear like a great psephologist;-) to me ,but anyway wondering the luck of that independent candidate who got a vote because of my pestering, I bid adieu to them and switched on TV for the latest Breaking News on Elections ;-).
CU in next post!


Raja said...

Padma..good narration ..I felt like watching a movie with an interesting climax!
At the end of the day, you helped the world's largest democracy by making 2 additional votes count..if more ladybens are convinced to vote..who knows? one day our country will be ruled by a coalition of independents, unless the popular parties are prepared to spend a fortune on horse trading!..but I guess they would have already exhausted their money on tapelis and plastic buckets!

RAMKI said...

when we were in saibabacolony in one election i was not in cbe. after return i asked vatsala whom she voted . she told to lion symbol an independent.i asked her why. she told he was the only candidate who asked vatsala in person others didnot turn vatsalaben as also in same line

Padma said...

Raja !Thank u!actually only hiraben voted in such an erratic way;-) buriben voted for a major party which she cnfessed to me during our exitpolls discussion :-)

Padma said...

Appa! yes !i remember that election in which amma voted to an independent.when that candidate was doing door to door campaigning,amma was so impressed by his modest namaskaram and appreciated his humility;-)I think that candidate's name was gopalan..

Raja said...

Padma..that candidate was P N Gopal an independent based in KK Pudur
He still managed around 10,000 votes!

rajendra said...

Padma, That was too good... I perhaps enjoyed it the most as I know the characters well.
Now I know how every candidate manages 'some' votes.
I was in 5th std & during elections I was in a Congress campaigning office to get freebies.(It was called a "Billa" meaning a round cardboard with party symbol on it. Every party would distrbute it,& then we would exchange between friends. I was collecting it for building power in my friends circle). Well! one poor guy was being explained why he should vote for hand. The campaigner was explaining him the use of hand. He then asked the poor guy to repeat. The poor chap forgot everything but did tell the use of left hand.:-))))) Jai Ho Indian Democracy !!

Nandakumar said...

Plastic buckets and tabeli for elections.Attrocious.Is Ahmedabad a poor city?

In Thirumangalam bye election each house hold got nearly 20,000 rupees.

In Pondicherry even for Municipal election each house got 1000 rupees.For assembly election it was 2000 rupees.If u dont take that, the thondan will write ur house name and pocket it.So we took them and used for week end eating out.

I think these bens can take even more gifts.

Once in Pondicherry gold nose studs were buried inside laddu and distributed.. Unfortunately not in our constituency.

Padma.... Ur narrations are good.U desire to be a good citizen....Good spirit.

U know who will be the next P.M?

Lollu prasad Yadav!

Padma said...

Rajendra!ur comment was quite interesting!especially ur trademark oneliner(use of lefthand:-) ..I didn't know that u were very much interested in politics;-) when u were in school.ok keep reading my blog!

Padma said...

Thank u Kumar chittappa for ur comments.Ahmedabad is not poor,but there corruption is less compared to TN.Read abt thirumangalam elections.stud in laddu is a good invention by our politicians;-).certainly lalu is a lollu.

Prasanna's Pen Speaks ... said...

Padma next to Chinnapillai in TN You are the best lady citizen of Indian democracy...y day only we received our voters card for AP...I was worried abt shortage in this month budget b cos of school fees of children But my husband said ''election varudulla patthukkalam''

Padma said...

Hi prasanna!who is chinnapillai of TN .I don't me know.Congrats for getting the voter ID card..ours is yet to come :(

KRISH said...

padma ur narration is very good i felt as if you are talking to two ben about elections. atleast you are able to convince two people to cast their votes, lifelong they will not forget your teaching about elections but in india more than 50% are like the bens see the fate of our country our parliamentarians are elected by such bens. god only can save us.

Padma said...

Thank u SVK !so atlast,dragged u to comment on my blog.see !with the same determination i made them vote.;-)waiting for ur blog!when is the release date?

Suha's Blog said...

Hi padma akka,
Nice one.i really like the sense of humor in your posts.hats off to your patience[in educating the ben's on indian politics] and persistence in making them vote.How i wish our politicians would show atleast half the interest u show towards our country's welfare then iam sure it would be a much better place to live in.u really have the knack of adding humor to such heavy topics too.keep blogging.

Padma said...

hi suha!thank u for reading my blog!u r the first person to appreciate my patience:-)))Thank u.
As i ve said in that post ,I luv talking to some body or other,so in a,bad i caught these bens for my Timepass :-))..keep reading my blogs