“But why can”t we have a car, Papa? I hate walking so long.” Pappu asked his father Guddu as they were returning from his school.
“Because I can”t pay the tax as much as the cost of the car.” , Guddu told his son.
“But most of the kids in my class have cars in their family. How come they can afford it while we can”t? You earn better than them, right?”
“Yes Pappu, I earn more but they don”t have to pay any tax. And we are not discussing this topic, Okay?”
“Okay... Ummm... can we take the bus, then?” kid chuckled.
“You don”t like standing in bus, do you? Seats are reserved for SC/ST and OBCs. We don”t even belong to minority or this state. And please don’t ask anything else for now. I am tired working all day in office.” Guddu replied.
For next 15 minutes, they walked in silence. But the kid was not able to walk any longer, so was the case with his father. They sat on a bench in a park but had to pay a fine of 250 Rs. because the bench was reserved for SC/ST only. As they reached their home, there was no electricity. It was Tuesday. There is power cut on every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to provide sufficient power supply to minorities’ houses in order to ensure their upliftment. They slept in boiling hot summer night. They had to. They were from General Category.
Next morning, it was Independence Day. The newspaper was colorful and words appeared as if carved over tricolor. Pappu was elated. He is having a holiday. All his friends also have holiday. Even Ramesh, who got admission in top school of the city with meager 53% marks. Pappu was denied because he was a general category student; despite his 96% marks are better than pappu’s. Marks are just a number. A state of mind. But he never understands why he was denied the admission. Although it felt weird when Ramesh used to tell him about all the interesting stuff he’d do in school. The facilities he boasts about, the English speaking teachers. He envied. It’s least he can do.
But he played all day with his friends. It was much needed holiday. He didn’t care about the homework assignment for which he is gonna be reprimanded for sure. He and few of his friends will be punished while some other will watch them kneeling down in punishment and mock them. No, some students are not allowed to be punished as per the new bill passed by the government. But he didn’t care for punishment either.
At evening, while he was reading a kids suppliment given free of cost with newspaper he came across a little story. This is the only part of newspaper he cared. Specially designed for kids. Comics, stories, cartoons and fun activities, that’s all are the ingredients of this part. Nevertheless, he read the story which has the moral saying something about Reservation. It was too complex for his little head to understand.
"What is reservation, Papa?” perplexed Pappu asked his father.
“What makes you ask such questions, son?” Guddu dreaded about the situation. He didn’t want to answer the kid. He himself couldn’t understand the issue in the first place.
“I want reservation, dad. All my friends got a reservation.” He announced as his desperation was pushing him at the verge of tears.
“We can’t have a reservation, beta. We just can’t. You can ask anything else if you want.” Guddu was taken aback. He never expected such demand from his kid. Never.
“I want reservation only. Mujhe reservation chahiye, bas, kah diya.” He started crying. He kept repeating his demand between his sobs.
“Alright, alright, kid. Listen, Papa is under too much debt this year. I will buy you reservation next year. Promise. Now my intelligent son will give his Papa a hug. Won’t he?” Guddu made him understand.
Guddu knows that he cannot afford to buy his son reservation. But he still hopes that his son will understand the stupid concept by his next birthday. He isn’t sure about it either, but at the most he can hope.
~ Based on a short movie 'In this city'.