He was a common man. He had successfully passed all criterion required to be a common man and the government was kind enough to immediately issue a certificate categorizing him as ‘the common man’. The government had categorically made it clear that those who come under this certification would get certain precedence in all governmental programmes and might be treated as a ‘dear one’ to government. The common man was so happy getting the certificate that he at once wrote a long letter to the authorities, praising the unmatched efforts of the government and the significant initiative in classifying him as a common man, enabling him to get the benefits of the developmental programmes.
The common man had a small hut under the great over bridge. Its sides were screened by torn polytheen sheets and roof was laid by unused asbestos pieces, abandoned by the railway authorities. It had two rooms, if it may be called rooms, one used a s a kitchen and the other where the common man and his wife usually sleep. He had a dream to commence a new business venture, to start a small shop on wheels, for which he had applied for a loan in the largest national bank in the country, which proudly called itself as the bank of ‘the common man’.
The common man had applied for the loan planning to start his business during the festival season. He had submitted the application along with all the needed certificates, except his own death certificate, a full month before the festival season. The bank manager, a fat fellow in the nicest dress with a powerful lens at the end of his long nose, had welcomed him courteously, very circumspectly heard his intention and energetically assured him to provide all help and support, expected from the bank. Months passed and nothing happened. But the common man did not stop frequently paying a visit or two to the bank and the manager would politely assure him that his application for loan was ‘under processing’.
At last, the common man lost his patience. On the second last day of the fifth month after submitting the application, the common man decided to make a scene at the bank which he believed, would force the bank authorities to sanction the loan. He took with him the framed certificate, very kindly issued to him by the generous government, categorizing him as the common man. As usual, he was politely welcomed by the manager who put his hands over the shoulders of the common man and took him to his air-conditioned chamber. Seating himself on a rolling chair, pleading the common man to take one of his own, the manager said,
“How are you, Sir”, his voice was pleasant as usual.
“I have come here to know about my loan” the common man replied resentfully.
“Oh, the loan” the manager remarked “it is under process and you would get it in the near future” the manager said with a smile in his lips.
The common was so angry hearing the casual comment that he smashed his hand at the desk and shouted,
“You have been telling this for the past 5 months now or so” he cried at the top of his voice “and I had not got a single penny as yet”. He was quivering with fury.
The manager was still smiling. He put his hand above the common man’s and said in a low but promising tone.
“No need to be panic, my dear sir”, he said “We are scrutinizing the certificates you have submitted here and verifying its authenticity”.
The common man was so depressed at the attitude of the bank that he at last took his trump card, the framed ‘common man certificate’, showed it to the manager and pronounced in a threatening voice,
“I am the common man, you know” said he dramatically, “and I am dear one to my government”. The framed certificate seemed to be better than a sharp sword.
The bank manager at once opened his drawer and took a well preserved document and showed it to a stunned man and said,
“Sir, you know” he said, “Our bank is the bank of ‘the common man’. The same government has issued this certificate also”. He said proudly. The document appeared to be a good steel shield as well.
The common man replied nothing. His efforts to threaten the bank manager with the certificate had pathetically failed. Understanding his position, he stood up and walked to the door. The manager, who was still in a delighted mood, shouted back,
“Your application is under processing Sir” he cried, “I will take care of that”.
The common man did not mind what the manager had shouted as he closed the door behind him. His mind was totally shattered. By now he was almost sure that his dream of starting a new business would never fulfil. Mind full of vengeance, the common man returned to his hut.
The next day he made up his mind. The bank had coned him by neither granting the loan nor rejecting his application. ‘They would not allow me to make a living’ he thought. ‘I would not let them to make a fool of me’. With this in mind, the common man began to consider certain means through which he could formulate his revenge. As he was walking through the road, thinking the ways of making retribution, he suddenly saw a large board with a danger sign in it.
FATAL AND NON-FATAL DRUGS AND POISONS –A Government Undertaking
‘This is it’ thought the common man and walked to the store.
A middle aged man was sitting in a chair who seemed to be the manager. The common man at first hesitated, then cleared his throat and asked in a very low voice,
“Can I get poison here?” he tried hard to maintain his composure.
The manager curiously looked at the common man.
“To kill what?” he asked.
“Rats” the common man replied.
The store manager took three small bottles. All the bottles contained poison pellets of different sizes. The common man chose the bottle which contained the smallest pellets and paid the price. The store manager, before putting the bottle in a cover, showed the common man a label at the top of the bottle. There was a danger sign in the label and below it; it was written in bold red letters,
ONE PELLET ENOUGH TO KILL THREE ADULT PERSONS. FOR CAREFUL USE
He then put the bottle in a cover and handed it over to the common man.
The common man walked towards the bank. There was a bakery opposite, he bought some nice cakes, very carefully inserted each poison pellet in every cake piece, put the cakes in a cardboard box and walked gently towards the bank.
‘Today it is going to be over’ he thought as he climbed the steps. When he reached the door, the bank manager saw him and came down from his air-conditioned chamber.
“How are you, Sir” he asked in his usual amusing tone. “Wow, what is special today” he asked as the common man opened the cardboard box and smilingly presented a cake piece.
“It is a special day in my life” the common man replied. “I am going to win a certain battle and I thought I could share my pleasure with nearest and dearest who are trying to help me in every other way”. He said with a clandestine smile.
“What a co-incidence” the bank manager replied eating the cake. “Today is the fifth anniversary of opening the branch in the town” he said as he helped the common man to distribute the cake pieces.
‘Now I will sit here and see the game’ thought the common man as he took a seat in the bench. An hour passed. The common man did not have his lunch. He was so tired that he soon fell asleep.
It was half past four when he woke up. He looked around anxiously to see the consequence of his deed. To his amazement, nothing had happened. The manager and the staff were energetically involved themselves in a great party which was going on in its full swing. The manager saw the common man awoke and came down to him.
“It was a nice cake” he said with a smile. “We are celebrating the anniversary and here is a piece of cake for our pleasure”. He gave the common man a piece and strolled away.
The common man was very much disappointed. He was exhausted, hungry and angry. He suddenly walked out of the bank, disenchanted and returned to his hut. ‘How could I fail’ he thought as he walked past the great over-bridge. ‘Whether the poison was not good enough or the bank staff had a better immunity against poisons’. He doubted.
After reaching the hut, he tried to understand how he failed in his mission. His dearest dog was ailing for the last two days and he decided to ease its pain by poisoning and killing it. ‘It will die anyway’ he thought as he took poison pellets, put it in some food and gave it to the dog. The dog which had not got up for the past two days, difficultly ate the food and fell back. The common man decided to check the result after an hour. He had not eaten anything from the morning and ate the cake presented by the manager and fell asleep.
It was dusk when he woke up with an excruciating stomach pain. It was so intolerable that he shouted his wife to immediately call some of his friends to take him to the nearby hospital. He was at once admitted to causality and a doctor, after examining him thoroughly, declared,
“‘Food poison” said he and immediately advised to admit him for further check-up and medicine.
Two days after, the common man was discharged from the hospital. As he walked slowly with his wife towards the hut, the dog came running and expressed its gratitude for saving his life by licking his legs with passion.
“It is good that the dog has recovered” he said to his wife “and now I understand why I fail in my attempt” he said in a wobbly voice.
It was a frantic letdown. The next day, as he recovered his health, decided to write a letter to the Minister of Poisons, explaining the facts. He criticized the government vehemently in his letter. ‘What the common man could do’ he asked ‘if the government and the authorities fail miserably in providing enough poison to kill a dog or a rat’ he wrote. Delineating the incident, he wrote that he had bought rat poison with the intention to kill his ailing dog and it did not kill but saved the dog. He thanked the government for saving the precious life of his dearest dog ‘but the poison is made with an aim to kill not to save’. He noted. He also put a sample pellet in his letter and asked the minister to taste it. ‘Nothing will happen’ he assured adding ‘especially to you’.
After a week, the common man got a reply from the Minister for Poison himself. The minister questioned the intelligence of the common man in giving the poison made to kill the rats to kill the dog. ‘Rat poison is solely made to kill the rats and not the dogs’. He declared. But he promised the common man that he would certainly look in to the whole matter and work hard, as he always do, to fulfill the aim of making a common poison for all living beings. He thanked the common man to raise such an important matter and announced that he would endure the hardships to visit a foreign country to study the prospects of making a common poison for every living being.
But the incident only doubled the vengeance of the common man towards the bank authorities who viciously tricked him by not granting the loan. He thought about every other possible ways to make revenge and spent his two weeks in formulating something. At last he decided to blow up the entire bank building with some dangerous explosive devices.
That evening, the common man went to one of his friend who always boasted to have known about all types of explosives and bombs. It was an isolated house, far from the crowds and hectic of the town. His friend, a plump figure with a round face just like a hand grenade, came down smiling at the common man.
“How are you, my old friend” he asked the common man.
“Not in good spirits” The common man looked sad. He then told all the incidents including his intention to blow up the entire bank building.
“Surely” replied his friend. “I will certainly help you doing this” he said and asked the common man to follow him.
They walked to certain place in the house and climbed down the long stair to a cellar. The common man was astonished to see various types of explosives, guns, pistols, dynamites and grenades displayed there. Patting on the shoulders of the stunned common man, his friend said in a proud voice,
“I had started this business some years ago” he said “I wanted to assist every human being with an intention to have revenge, especially the politicians”.
The common man was surprised. He asked,
“The political leaders need your help with the explosives!”
“Why not” replied his friend. “They are my long time friends, partners and clients”.
“What a pity” the common man exclaimed.
“So, let us start our business” his friend said, “How big the building is which you want to blow up” he asked as the common man inspected the explosives.
“It is a huge building” the common man replied as he turned to his friend, “Three storied”.
“Sorry my dear friend” his friend replied in a sad tone. “Most of my clients are local politicians and they always wanted smaller explosives to attack at their own rallies and meetings. They want one or the other of their own supporters to get hurt or killed” he said.
“It is certainly a misfortune” the common man, visibly disappointed, replied.
“But there is no need for you to worry” his friend assured him. “We will go to the revolutionary leader and he will certainly help us”.
The common man was somewhat fearful about approaching the revolutionaries who were engaged in a fierce battle against the police to achieve their universal objectives which they themselves failed to understand. The friend at once took him in his vehicle towards the forest. Everyone in the town including the small children except the police and the government knew that the revolutionary leader was hiding in the forest for the past 10 years. As the common man and his friend reached the borders of the forest, some people with long beards, intellectual faces, torn uniforms and with pistols took them both at gunpoint.
It was a moderate building in the densest part of the forest to which they were escorted. The revolutionary leader, a fellow just like the others, with a long beard, splendid mustache, an intellectual face with a machine gun at his side was seated in an air-conditioned chamber. He looked at both of them and yelled,
“Are you the spies of the bourgeoisie” his voice was so coarse that the common man trembled with fear.
“Sir” replied his friend “We have no links with the bourgeoisie. On the contrary we are here to seek your help to wage a war against a bourgeois establishment of the bourgeois government”.
The revolutionary leader was so much pleased hearing the comment that he at once ordered his comrades to bring two chairs and asked the common man and his friend if they drink tea or cola. He then asked how he could help his comrades to wage a war against the bourgeois establishment.
Seating himself in a chair brought to him by an intellectual faced revolutionary, the common man’s friend said,
“Here is my friend, the common man” he continued “The bourgeoisie government’s bourgeoisie bank has bamboozled my friend by not granting a small loan for which he had applied” he said politely.
The revolutionary leader shivered with rage. He yelled,
“What” he screamed hysterically at the top of his voice. “A common man is denied a loan. I will use all my firepower to destroy that establishment which fail to help even a common man”.
The common man was visibly delighted at hearing this. His friend stood up and declared.
“As revenge, we have decided to blow up the bourgeoisie bank” he asserted piercingly.
There was a great cheer from different corners. The revolutionaries came running to the chamber hearing so joyful a matter. An apparently delighted revolutionary leader, with a rare smile in his lips, came down from his seat and patted the shoulders of the common man and said affectionately.
“Great, my comrade” he was now crying with pleasure. “You are the real revolutionary. You are going to do a thing that we always fail to do”. He said appreciating the common man.
The common man, now relaxed, replied,
“Thank you sir, but what I need is a first-rate explosive device” he said “to blow up that damned bank” he whispered.
“Sure, Sure”, the revolutionary leader asserted. “We will go to our great store of ammunition and you are free to select anything which suits your purpose from our massive treasure of explosives”. He said and asked them to follow him.
It was a large room. At the left corner, there was a heap of old guns of different types. A large mortar, old and rusty, covered in a thick layer of dust, was placed at the center. There were many kinds of explosives, large and small, dynamites and bombs, placed in a desk, at the right side of the room. The revolutionary leader went to the desk, took a large explosive device, rectangular shaped and showed it to them. The common man’s friend examined it.
“Excellent” he said. “It is a time triggered device and suits our purpose” he said after examining it.
“A bit old, though” replied the revolutionary leader adding “The opposition is so week these days that they do not supply devices as they did earlier”.
After examining the device thoroughly and visibly satisfied, they put the device in a bag. When they came out of the building, the revolutionary leader turned to the common man, took his hand and said,
“My comrades” he declared. “I hereby pronounce you my ‘destructors of the bourgeoisie’. I will pray to almighty for the success of your mission” he said.
“Thank you, sir” replied the common man.
The revolutionary leader directed two of his intellectual comrades to accompany his ‘destructors of bourgeoisie’ to the border of the forest.
When they came out of the forest and journeyed to home, the common man was seemed delighted at the prospects of making his reprisal. ‘I will now teach them a lesson and they will never forget it’ he guaranteed himself.
After a meticulous but tiresome study of the device, his friend had attached a timer to the explosive and set the time so that the explosion would take place at exact noon hour the next day.
“See my friend” he said while demonstrating the working of the device, “You must plant it anywhere in the building 15 minutes before noon and immediately go out. You can watch the explosion at a safe distance of 50 meters from the building”. He advised.
The common man took the rectangular device with him and kept it in a safe place. The next day he put the device in a bag and carried it to the town. At sharp a quarter to 12, he reached the bank and called upon the manager.
“How are you, my dear sir” the manager asked in his usual pleasant voice. “Your application is under processing” he said while passing through a large register.
“I am glad to hear that” replied the common man looking curiously at the manager.
The bank manager stopped writing, looked up.
“Why in the world you say like that, sir” he asked.
“Oh, nothing particular” replied the common man. “By the way, can you keep my bag for some time?” he asked “ I will just be back” he said.
“Why not!” replied the manager taking the bag and placing it under his desk.
The common man at once stood up and walked to the door. He hurriedly climbed down the stairs and ran out of the building. After reaching a safe distance, he looked at the big clock in the tower. Only five minutes left to ring noon. He peculiarly looked at the building which was going to be a pile of rubbles in just over five minutes. Minutes passed like hours and suddenly he heard the bell ring. ‘It was exact noon and now it would happen’ the common man thought as he put his hands on his ears.
Nothing happened at all!. There was no explosion. At a quarter past twelve, the common man decided to go to the building to check what indeed happened there. He walked to the manager’s room. Looking up the manager said,
“What is in that bag, Sir” he asked. “There was a peculiar sound just like a tap heard from inside”.
“Oh, nothing in particular, just a clock”, replied a disappointed common man cursing the revolutionaries. “Thank you for keeping it” he whispered, took the bag and hurriedly got out of the building.
He was the most disappointed and shattered man in the whole town. First the bank and now the revolutionaries had made a fool of him. The whole evening, the common man sat in that chair in his small hut and thought about the whole incidents. “Damned revolutionaries” he cursed them.
At dusk, he took the bag with the so called ‘dangerous explosive device’ and carried it to his friend’s home.
“Have you succeeded” his friend asked anxiously as he entered the compound.
“No my friend” said the common man sadly giving a brief account of what had happened. After hearing the whole story, his friend took the bag, examined the timer and explosive device.
“It had indeed exploded” he remarked casually showing a bit of burned part of the bag.
“Oh, really!” exclaimed the common man. “Damned revolution” he said cynically.
After spending some time with his friend, the common man bided farewell and walked to his hut. The revolutionaries had mocked him. As he walked past the police station, an idea came to his mind. He knew the whereabouts of the revolutionary leader with whom the police is said to have fighting a fierce battle. He could pass the information to the police and make the damned revolutionaries learn a lesson.
He turned and entered the police station and demanded to see the inspector. He was ushered to a room where the inspector was seated with a small pistol at his side. He was a well built man, with an elegant trimmed mustache, cruel faced with a rough sound. He motioned the common man to take a seat.
“”What do you want” he yelled at the common man.
“Sir, I want to provide secret information” he replied in a very low voice after looking around, ensuring that nobody hears what he said. Then he whispered,
“I know where the revolutionary leader is hiding” he said looking at the inspector.
Visibly agitated, the inspector curiously looked at the common man. He shouted,
“Are you mad” he bellowed at the top of his voice. “We have been searching for their leader for the past 10 years and we strongly suspect that he is dead”.
The common man was stunned. But he said,
“I have seen him only yesterday” he said in a low voice.
The inspector slowly took the pistol in his hand. Standing up, he pointed his gun at the common man and asked,
“Are you a revolutionary” He yelled as some of the police men came running in “Ehh?”.
The common man quivered in terror.
“Forgive me, sir” he said trying to stand up.
The inspector now replaced the gun on the desk and watched the common man.
“Do you have any mental problems” he at last asked.
“Yes” replied the common man, “I think so, sir”. His voice was shaky.
“That is it” the inspector replied arrogantly. “Do not tell these things in public” he said and advised him to consult a psychiatrist. The common man at once ran out of the police station cursing his own immature actions.
The next day, as a last chance to get out of his troubles, the common man went to the local politician who for the last 30 years was serving his people without any antagonism. After a long wait, the he was able to see the politician.
“Have you voted for me in the last election” the politician asked as the common man entered the room.
“Of course, Sir” he replied and then described his efforts to get a loan from the bank with an intention to start a small business on wheels. He then showed the framed ‘common man certificate’ which the government had very generously issued.
“A common man and a business on wheels” exclaimed the politician. “That is the problem. You know, as you are a common man, the bank and any other establishment would never believe in your ability to conduct a business. On the other hand, the small businesses will not blossom under the changed circumstances. There are many profitable and nice business fields where you can invest and make profit” the politician said.
“That will be nice” replied the common man with a questionable look.
“Surely”, replied the politician. “You can start new ventures like smuggling gold, drugs or something, create a firm that manufacture explosives and other useful devices, constitute a gang of professional killers or kidnapers or invest money in illegal mining or human trafficking. These are the most profitable businesses nowadays with a sure chance of success. If you agree to co-operate I will recommend your case for loan” he said.
The next day, the bank manager came to the common man’s hut to inform him that the loan had indeed been granted.
Years passed. On the 25th anniversary of his business life, the business magnet gave a posh party to his partners and friends. Politicians of various political parties, ministers, bureaucrats, police officers, revolutionaries and common people actively took part participated in the programme. In the backyard of the great hall, two beggars were sitting watching the proceedings. They would get enough food once the party ends. One of them asked the other,
“What a party” he exclaimed. “Who is this businessman?”
“He was a common man once” said the other as they waited for food.