Yesterday, the breadman came to the out house to collect his monthly bill. He was a new breadman and the wife though he was a candidate for the election, on a door-to-door visit.
"We have decided to vote for the Congress," she told him.
"What has the Congress done for us," the breadman said. "When there were riots, Sudhakarrao Naik sat in his bungalow smoking his pipe. And when sharad Pawar took over, he also did nothing - just talk."
"That may be," said the wife, "but we have decided not to vote for the independents. In a democracy, voting for independents is a waste of votes."
"Why don't you vote for Mulayam Singh Yadhav," said the breadman."
"Are you Mulayam Singh Yadhav's candidate?" the wife said. "I thought some Parsi from Cusrow Baug was."
I came in a this stage and corrected the wife: "No, no, he is not Mulayam Singh's candidate."
"Why don't you let him speak for himself," the wife said. "Surely, if he can stand for elections, he can speak for himself."
"But you son't understand Ö," I said.
"I understand everything," the wife said. "You men think women don't understand anything, you are wrong. Let me inform you that it is women who are going to sway the vote this time, MARG poll says so."
"MARG poll is usually wrong," I said. "But that is besides the point. I am not saying you don't understand politics, I am saying you don't understand who he is."
"I am not interested in understanding who he is. As far as I am concerned he may be Jaffer Sharief, but I am not going to vote for him. So why should I know who he is!" the wife said.
The breadman said: "Your husband is right. You have misunderstood the whoel situation."
"Speak to me only when you are spoken to," the wife said.
"You don't have to be rude to the poor man," I said. "After all, he is here only for his work."
"What is his work," the wife said. "Taking votes from simple voters and then sitting in parliament and making hawala money."
The breadman said: "Madam, I don't want any hawala money, I only want the money that is due to me."
"Nothing is due to you, we owe you nothing," the wife said. "Now, please, go, otherwise I will report you to Mr. Seshan."
"I cannot go without giving you this," the breadman said, stretching out his hand with the monthly bread bill.
"I don't want any of your election handbills," the wife said, wihtout looking at the bill. "There is enough election paraphernelia in the houses as it is."
"If you don't take it, let me take it," I said. "One of us has to settle his account."
"Why should we settle aby account of his," the wife said. "You give him a vote and you won't see his ace again for another five years."
The breadman left with his bill. This morning, there was no bread in the house, we had idllis.