--- University School of Sciences Kitli ---

With a union minister, a former cricketer and a top film personality getting jail sentences (confirmed, suspended and expected respectively) within a span of one week, fears of a shortage of prison cells have been raised by some quarters. Or maybe not. Maybe it is just Neel who can’t help being his outrageous self.

“Alya, what if all jails are already house-full? I won’t mind keeping Sanju baba at my home. Maanas saro chhe.”

“Haan, haan, actor hai isliye maanas saro chhe. If there was an ordinary person in his place, you would’ve wanted such persons to be shot dead”  Milind counters.

“shot dead” – Milind counters.

That’s the beauty of Amdavadi Kitlis such as this one – every nonsense is countered here by an unrelated one of similar stature.

“Abey kya common man, common man. Have you traveled in an unreserved compartment? If you don’t die of the stink, you’ll die of the stinking habits of India’s common man.”

“Whoa! Save Maharaja Neel from his praja folks”, Daljit teases Neel.

“Kyon, talking the truth makes someone Maharaja?”

“Arey nahin Maharaj, aisa main kab kaha”, Daljit refuses to back away, “I was asking Roy to get some railway tickets for you. When would his job help us?” – deflecting Neel’s assault towards Roy’s job with Indian railways.

“Anyway,”  Neel overlooks Daljit’s aimlessness  “why does the common man get praised so much. If every common man is jailed for the wrongs that he or she does every single day, no number of prison cells across the globe would be sufficient for them.”

“Shah, ruk”  Daljit throws the popular method of stopping Neel Shah whenever he gets hyper about something.

“Neel, baka, let’s not get into that debate again. Common man ni beep ni beep. Happy?”

Everyone laughs at the mother-like approach of Milind.

“Waise” – oh no, Daljit is ready to throw something again – “how much should a jail charge for a window seat?”

“Saale, can you ever think beyond your family business of trucks? Aayo moto window seat waalo!” – Neel tries to settle scores.

“Ha ha ha Neel, your smart comment almost blew me away” – Daljit replies with a poker face.

Luckily, both Daljit and Neel are very clean and friendly guys and it never gets messy.

Neel smiles, “You tell us. You are the Selu King of Ahmedabad.”

“Gaali dene ke liye shukriya”, Dalji reciprocates the warmth, “I think for every window seat for evolved individuals of the spiritual communities of politicians (everyone smiles), actors and cricketers should cost 50 x 12,500.”

Alright then, Daljit is back with his bag of statistics. These sales people always have some data or the other to throw at others, whether or not they make any sense even to their own selves. The idea is to make sales, not sense, right?

Anyway, everyone wonders what he’s got this time.

“Prabhu”, Neel folds his hands and touches Daljit’s knees, “yeh 50 x 12,500 aapki kaun si maya hai?”

Neel is meanwhile busy calculating the total on his cell phone. “Abey”, he says while still looking into his phone,

“12,500 is India’s per capita income; and multiplying with an average age of 50, I guess (looks up as he gets his answer) a window seat should cost the evolved ones Rs. 6,25,000 for a window seat in jail.”

Roy looks bewildered – “But what’s that figure got to do with … well … Anything?” Almost immediately, everyone laughs in agreement.

Daljit suddenly feels cornered with ridicule coming at huge speeds from all directions. But then, he’s Daljit. “Tum log saalon, you can only drink tea and laugh at bad jokes. (Everyone laughs even louder) Why do I even talk of bigger things with you”.

That nailed it. Each one lets out a howl in unison. They couldn’t decide whether to let Daljit explain his statistics first or laugh out the eventual justification without hearing itself.

After what seemed an eternity, the group gets its marbles back. Predictably, it is Roy who advocates adding meaning to the conversation. “Abey, no one’s laughing at you. It’s just that it was funny to see someone come up with such statistics for a nonsense like a window seat in jail. Anyway, complete your story.”

“Nahin, nahin, you guys might want to laugh a little more. Go ahead”, Daljit mocks anger.

“Abey bol na” – Milind gets impatient.

“It is a simple thought. A common man (he immediately looks at Neel; and predictably enough, Neel mouths a few silent curses for his pet hate. Everyone smiles and Daljit continues) … a common man may live for 50 years in the open. But he hardly gets to enjoy the fresh air. Because it’s either not there around his home or he is simply buried under the task of earning his bread to even notice a thing like window. He spends 50 years for that 12,500 every year. That’s his life that he never has. That’s the window of fresh air that he never has. And so when some film star, sports star or a political star gets that window, he should pay for it – equivalent to an entire life of the common man.”

There is stunned silence for a while. And then suddenly everyone gets up, raise their hands in air and stroke the imaginary bell of a temple. “Saadho, Saadho”, says Neel, as everyone fold their hands and bow in front of the still-seated Daljit. “Jai ho param pujya, Sri Sri Daljit Singh Dhall-ji maharaj ki.”

“Kyon, saying the truth makes someone Maharaj” – Daljit immediately throws Neel’s own words back at him.

Everyone laughs. But today, they might relive the conversation when they reach back home.


Author. Entrepreneur. Filmmaker. Journalist.

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