It was the summer of 1999. He was returning to university to start his third year. As he got onto the train and said goodbye to his folks he realized the enormity of the task that lay ahead. The 3rd year was a make-or-break year. One delved into course work that one would end up majoring in. His mind, however, was occupied with something of far greater import. He was running to become the University President. He had to win. Having alternated between being a complete a$$h0!e and a total recluse for the better part of the first 2 years, he had his task cut out. But, he was a fighter and he fancied his chances. It didn’t matter that most people thought he was a headstrong moron. He trusted his team. He had a great team of friends and they were a great team of strategists. His head was racing. Manifesto. Votes. Campaign debates. Speeches. Waking up in the wee hours of the morning as he reached Hazrat Nizamuddin Station, he realized that the luggage which had his best clothes was stolen. Things could have been worse. His other bag with his semester pocket money, his footwear and innerwear was still there. It wasn’t chained to the lower seat like the stolen piece had been. There must be a silver lining to this he reasoned. Maybe it was divine intervention. The Gods had decided he needed a new wardrobe. He had to look Presidential. An FIR later, he was shopping at Karol Bagh and he bought his first branded Khaki trousers. It was Olive Green. Spiritus from Louise Philippe read the label just above the right butt pocket.
It was 2009. It was not yet summer. It felt like summer though. He was returning home from Visakhapatnam. His state was going to the assembly polls in a few months time. His country was going into a General Election simultaneously. He wasn’t a candidate and it wasn’t University. It was better this time. He knew he was a great strategist and his client was going to win. His client had been building a solid foundation for the past 2 years. Medical Camps. Drinking water projects. Cricket Tournaments for the youth. His client was in this even before he chose to become a strategist. How unlike him in University, he thought. He got off at Annavaram, to get a pulse from the locals. It was one of his client’s weakest spots. He needed to eat first and still needed to figure out a way to get back home. Amma must be waiting he thought. He ate at the dhaba where the bus had stopped and tossed a coin in his head. He turned right at the main road. His search for an auto-rickshaw had begun. He loved auto-drivers in smaller towns. The driver’s name was Sreenu. Sreenu advised him against going to the Bus Station. There should be a train to home in 30 minutes. The Train station is farther but you’ll reach home faster, Sreenu reasoned. He instinctively trusted Sreenu. He also trusted his instincts. They discussed about the Assembly elections. It wasn’t good for his candidate he thought. They need to limit the damage here. Sreenu dropped him at the station. He took a photo of Sreenu and his auto and promised to give him a copy should he return. They hugged. They shook hands. They parted. He went to buy a ticket at the counter. The counter wasn’t even open. The train was to arrive in another 45 minutes. There was another auto-rickshaw at the entrance and he decided to sit in it for a while. As he sat in the back-seat he heard something ripping apart. He didn’t bother. These seats he thought. He hung around till the counter opened. He bought his ticket. Unreserved. It was just a 30 minute journey and he could easily manage. The train’s arrival had been announced in the Public Announcement System. They said it in 3 languages. Telugu, English, Hindi. Even in Annavaram? Maybe yes, he reasoned. It was a temple town and a famous one. He looked down to pick up his luggage. His luggage was intact. Nothing had been stolen. Something caught his eye on his trousers. Just below his zipper, on the right side of his trousers there was a long tear. It was more than 6 inches long. Maybe more. That was the ripping sound he had heard earlier he thought. He didn’t care to change. He had enough time but he didn’t want to change. He got onto the train. It was overcrowded. There was no place to sit. Hardly any place to stand. He perched himself near the wash basin and strained himself to look at the label just above his right butt pocket. Spiritus from Louise Philippe read the label on the Olive Green Khaki Trousers.