“November 7th, will mark the beginning of a new, groundbreaking economic strategy. This government understands that the most valuable possession of a Human being is Morality. Yes, dear friends, the ability to tell saffron from green, to be able to do what is right and shun the left.” I hear him yell through the radio perched on the floor next to my cane chair. Impetuous and breathless, I tried to imagine what the hefty politician might have looked like as he made this speech. A fountain of saliva with a pool of sweat around his neck I reckon. My distracted thoughts quickly caught up to his derailed ones as I heard him affirm. “So we have decided to levy a 15% tax based on how high your morality is on the morality index. All amounts will be secured biweekly from your primary source of income and the morally elite i.e. citizens with an index of higher than 7 on a scale of 0-10 will additionally have to surrender any property or unclaimed bank accounts, failing which, they will be answerable to a special team of officers who have totalitarian power of attorney.”
“Special team huh, must be a bunch of saffron clad geniuses who…. was that a knock? Who is it?” I called out, wondering who could possibly want to visit me at this time of the day. It was a little past 10 in the night and I remember locking the plank wood gate that marked the edge of my plush green front lawn. At 68, my bones had started to sound like a 3 year old thrashing a rolling pin on an empty vessel and my hearing was not the best. Must have been my head, messing with me again I thought as I walked to the kitchen table and involuntarily dragged the dentures out of my lips and put them in a bowl. That’s when I heard it again, a knock followed by,
“Anybody home? We are here on behalf of Mr. Prime minister; we are part of the morality census.”
I walked to the door, and peeped out through the key hole to be met by a large brown pupil staring right back. “What do you want, come back in daytime tomorrow”, I yelped surprised by the slurring of my own voice. “We can’t hear you sir, could you please open the door?”
Urrghhh!! These pests aren’t going to go away. I opened the three locks and the latch bolt on the door. Leaving it ajar, I turned around and started to walk back to my spot, the humble cane chair.
Three men, each dressed in a black three piece suit stepped in, their wayfarers leaving me unimpressed. Clearly not cut out for the job I thought. I knew this kind of a gimmick was to take place but honestly I hadn’t expected it to be this quick. One of them bent down next to me to turn the knob on the Carvaan that was hissing in the background, bringing the noise to a halt.
Another pulled out a digital hand held device about the size of his 7 inch palm. “Sir, can you please tell us your name and age?” his voice stern and authoritative. The alpha, I thought to myself. “Farooq Ahmed Ansari” I said, trying my best to stretch my toothless mouth. “Farooq with a double ‘O’ and I am 68.” I clarified. The guy who had turned off my radio and comfortably settled next to me, still admiring its beauty, pounced to his feet and announced, “Ah, no need of a measurement there. We can proceed to the next house I believe.” The third man who had silently watched with his arms crossed, still leaning onto the door begged to defer. Ah ha! He was the alpha. “We must check everyone. Orders are orders.” He said, nodding in the direction of the data collector man.
Data collector man stepped forward and asked me to stare into the front camera of the hand held device. Three, two, one…*click* a bright light blinded me for what seemed like an eternity.
“Sir, we have your morality index with us.” The alpha spoke, lifting me by my crunching bicep, up from the floor. “Is is too low for your meter, son” I laughed looking at their serious, creased foreheads aligned perfectly in front of me.
“Sir, quite the opposite. Your morality index is 9.84. We now have to declare you morally elite.” The data collector man said. “Impossible, I eat beef all the time. Do you know how many sins I have committed in my lifetime?” I questioned. “Sir, we trust the meter and it is never incorrect.” The data collector man said.
“Huh, nonsense, what do you mean?” I asked, ridiculed. “It means we will have to take away your house and everything else that you own.” The alpha announced. The radio man quickly added “Also because you have crossed the 9.5 benchmark, we have orders from the centre to turn you into the holiest of all animals. A cow!”
Three months have passed and here I am, trying to fall asleep despite my failed ears, in the middle of a diversion on Park Avenue road. The gangrene in my left hind foot being swallowed gradually by crawling maggots and my horns chipped with the bumping into the bonnets of luxury vehicles whooshing past me. Oh, the pain of having to gulp food with my toothless mouth still partly wrapped in paper or plastic.
I miss my fingers the most.