-Santosh Kumar

“Write a story” teacher announced before leaving the class, “the topic of your story is ‘an ideal leader’” adding further that “and I don’t want any copied material. Write something original for your own sake and for the sake of this exercise. This is the only holiday homework I am giving you for these vacations” After the class, sandy remembers, how  the whole class was discussing this unusual homework. “Are you really interested in that stuff” “What stuff?” “That story about your ideal leader” “Are you going to do it?” “Yes. But Guess how. Simple. Long live Google. Copy paste” “Oh well & good. & I will copy yours!”

Everybody laughed. But sandy was not one of those who would laugh on such creative endeavors. Usually he used to fall flat on bed after reaching home. But not today. a spark was generated, something clicked in his mind.  He had a lot of holiday homework at disposal but the only thing he was interested in was the story. He picked up his notebook and tried to scribble, just to get convinced that he was writing trash.  So he tore the pages & started thinking. How would my leader would look like? How will he work? What exactly will he do? He pondered & pondered with no avail.

Evening had set in & he was still clueless. He saw his father coming home but he was engrossed so he didn’t care, or rather he didn’t want to leave aside his cognitive exercise which anyways was giving him no articular results but immense pleasure of a very peculiar kind. But then something struck him. Papa, yes his father, like all middle-aged adults consider themselves to be a pro in everything that is remotely political. They can debate ferociously, can brainstorm over government policies more than the bureaucrats, and can criticize government in such a fashion that will bring the finest intellectuals of the country to shame.

Clueless and utterly confused in his mind, sandy rose from his bed. His father was as usual watching a news channel & occasionally commenting on people and parties. “These idiots. They don’t know a thing about governance. God knows who elected them”.

“Irony is that dad himself voted for the ruling party”, sandy giggled. So he went in. “What happened? Why are you standing there”? Dad asked him

“just some help”.

“What help exactly?”

“We have to write a story dad & I am not getting ideas.”

Father become serious “so how can I help?”

“Our topic is – an ideal leader according to you. You are a pro in political matters so perhaps you can help me in this matter. Who do you think could be an ideal leader for this country?”

Son, father said. “Honestly speaking nothing can change this country. Even if by god’s grace there is a good politician then the citizen is not ideal for him or her. we all are stuck in the dirt of corruption and communal hatred so deep that it reflects on our behavior before we can even think of it consciously. Perhaps we get intimidated by flattery and tall claims. Plus all these communities, the so-called vote bank politics. But yeah our politicians are disgrace to this world.

Sandy was confused “so what exactly is the solution dad”

“I don’t think there is a solution. Yeah maybe a dictator is what this country need”.

Though father said this in a casual tone, it immediately strikes sandy like a lightning bolt. Dictator, yes this is what we need. Dictator, one who could suppress the corrupt, insensitive politicians; dictator who could enforce values, morals laws and can effectively condemn the offender. Yes we need a dictator. But then he asked himself- What kind of dictator?

He thought and thought and thought, &  found the solution lying in his bag. His history book. he did read history of Germany and Russia in his history class. Stalin and Hitler, the two most notorious dictators became his hero,

So he began writing his story. “In a world of chaos”, he wrote, “where anarchy, bigotry, communalism all had colored the nation dark. Where neither the leaders care about their subjects nor do masses respect their leaders. When riots became an everyday business and religion became the only true identity of the people. To save the nation from ultimate collapse the few rare thinking brains found a solution, a dictator”.

He suddenly stopped writing. But who was this dictator? Was he a messiah, an alien or a superhero? If he was a simple common man how was he different from the masses? He couldn’t think of anything. He asked his mother. Mother told him “your story lack emotions. Add some emotions to it. “Like the dictator could be a victim which brought hardness in his personality. He lost his family in communal riots. He was forced to beg, do trivial jobs. He was treated badly by the society. Thus he generated deep hatred for the people. He promised himself that one day they have to pay back”. So now Sandy had got a background for his hero. “So he worked hard and studied via government schools and scholarships. He became a well to do officer but he still resented the world. He hated everyone”.

He again stopped writing. He should also hate the government or else why would he become a dictator? But why would he hate the govt. Perhaps….. Perhaps they suspended him when he tried to unearth a scam. He became so disillusioned from the government that when the thinking brains asked him to join them, he joined instantly.

He applied the easiest strategy for victory. He provoked everyone. And everything fell in place as per the pattern of  thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. People were made to think that  “yes the govt. is bad, we don’t need it. Many agitated, many others gave silent support. Those who were against them were suppressed.

And again he stopped writing. Wait a minute. Dictator is our hero, how he can be immoral? so he devised a justification for his actions but at most he was justifying himself. “Everything is fair in war and love. & if your intentions are good then a bit of treachery doesn’t count much. Like what Pandavas did in Mahabharata”. Another thing came to his mind that made him smile. “You don’t need to be right every time. You are right if you can convince others that you are right”

So he became a dictator. Dictator…. wait a minute what was his name. He thought some names but then said- “my story needs universal value”. If I name him then people will perceive him in accordance with his religion or caste. No he is just dictator.

Now what. What will he exactly do? and now was the time to implement what he has read in his history book.  Hitler, in order to discriminate and segregate different races ordered that every Jew need to wear a David star. “But my dictator would not do this to kill anyone, just to differentiate”.

But there is no racial discrimination in our country. Of course not, but there are the other type of discrimination based on religion and caste. There were others types too but these two are ultimate points which define the identity of the masses. So the dictator… he gave a star each to all religions of different colors. ”

All religions are equally bad, We should scrap our religion” he thought. “Oh no, but I can’t write this. If mom or sir reads this they will get offended”. So eventually he changed his statement. dictator passed an order- “Everyone will have different settlements acc. To their religions. No person of one religion will live or work with the person of other religion. Oh no, for this he have to change the whole economy and society. But, after all he is a dictator he can do anything. In his heart he knew that he is being impractical but he hoped no one would go into such details. Sir will skim through the stories he was sure.

But what about caste? Yes surnames reflects your caste identity. So why not scrap the castes. Yes. Hope mom and sir are not so uncompromising over caste. But then there will be many ram, ramesh etc. What to do? So everyone will have a code instead of surname. Code made of their date of birth etc. Every person has a unique code which will replace their surname

He stopped again. Oh i am getting bored with this story. I never wrote any ans. More than 2 pages and now…. so he rushed through the rest of the story. “the dictator bring about various developments, eliminated social ills and the country became prosperous and the world was a happy place again”. He wrote things like that and closed his notebook. Oh i am so tired. He laid on bed and instantly fall asleep

People with different stars- saffron, green, white, red; in different homes, different localities. everyone was so happy that they forgot that they were ever be together. Happy in their own community. and the shared culture collapsed under the weight of exclusivity.

A boy, a stupid boy appeared. Stupid because he was homeless. He had star on his chest but not food. He begs people but no one help him. He went to a colony and never returned. Stupid boy. He forgot that he entered the colony of a different religion. His body was found in a gutter dead. No one cared about him. But the star. Oh they killed our kinsmen. The people who didn’t gave alms to him ever started fighting over his body. Oh the other community killed the person of our community.

Revenge!! Revenge!!

And everything was reduced to ashes. people became corpses and humans became devils.

People were running to save either their own life or their family but not everyone had luck  by their side. a exasperated and visibly tired woman was walking through the lanes with a  new-born child on her side. Her maternal complications restricted her mobility and she was looking for help. A man passing by, who was out to kill the ‘enemies’ with a sword in his hand, took pity on them. He approached her and the child with compassion. Bit as soon as he saw the star, establishing the identity of the mother and the son, the smile vanished and was replaced by a menacing look suitable for devils but occupied by humans.Not from my religion. the child whom he had taken in his hand  became an object of his hatred. He slashed his sword and…

No…. he shouted & woke up. Damn! The boy, the child, it was all in his dream! He wanted to sleep again but could not. The faces haunted him. He could see the face of the boy. No i don’t need a religion. I don’t care about my mom, i don’t need religion. That dictator is a monster. His parents died of riots and now people have to pay back. No this can’t be my dictator. This can’t be my dictator he began to sob.

Is this the same dictator i made? No i did not but yes i did. Is this the religion the people follow? No they don’t….. Yes they do.

Classes started again after vacation. Teacher after taking attendance asked. “I haven’t got all the notebooks. Where are the rest?” Raise your hands honestly who have not submitted their assignments. of course not all defaulters raised their hands.Some hands rose reluctantly. Surprisingly sandy also raised his hand. Teacher asked him “why didn’t you submit your notebook?” He gave a classic reply but alas the teacher couldn’t grasp the real meaning of this statement “My story….. Has not yet completed”