In august company

After a week of aggressive work out in my gym, I decided to go for a muscle relaxing massage. The therapy released the tautness in my body and I found myself dosing at the end of the dinner and took early to bed. Within minutes, I was in a state of a deep slumber and was dreaming.

In my dream, I found myself in the prisoner’s clothes in Tihar Jail, waiting in the queue for the morning breakfast. Ahead of me was the familiar figure of Raja and I found myself sitting next to him in the stinking prison dining hall. Finding that I was a new entrant, he asked me a straight question as to what had brought me there.

This is what I had to say: that I was working in Jharkhand in ministry of mines and my job was very basic and straightforward. Tell the contractors to bloat up their bids by 30 per cent and give me the difference in cash. After the cash was collected, I could keep 10 per cent of the cash received as facilitation fee and deliver the rest to the minister.

The system worked beautifully for all of us for years until one day, my house was raided and gunny bags of cash were found in the basement. I told them the truth but the minister sent me a message to retract the statement or else. I was scared about the safety of my family and did what I was told. He said his fate was not very different and sighed.

After the breakfast, we prisoners were allowed to go for a walk and I saw a bearded prisoner with drooping shoulder. He was none other than Kalmadi. I walked up to him and said, “Kalmadi sahib, I was very disappointed that having been an Air Force officer, you got into this mess.”

He said that since the government did not give him permanent commission after having served as a short service commissioned officer, he decided to take revenge. He said that he would make sure that all those who had made more money than him also landed up in the docks even if he had to turn an approver and swore some unintelligible dirty words.

In the next phase of seamless dreams, I saw myself as an entrepreneur of a trading company registered in Chennai. I had been approached by political bigwigs to act as their trading partner for routing some money from one company to another to another and when I learnt that the money involved was in the range of Rs 200 crore, I did not think that there was anything illegal to earn 2 per cent retention fee.

All I need was impressive letterhead to do the transactions but since everything was off record, no book keeping was required. The greed overtook me and I agreed. Now I am in jail and I see them all smiling in front of the cameras and wooing voters.

And then I heard in my dream a very loud voice calling out my jail number. ‘Qaidi number 420 haazir ho.’ And I got up sweating on my palms and under my arms.

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