Jocko Street was packing his bag, bought from Dubai Mall along with a Gillette shaving kit and a Swiss pocketknife. He bent to task with concentration only he could command. An extra pair of washed jeans, a couple of shirts, four t-shirts, a set of underwear and socks to match! The Hawaii slippers in the polythene cover went right on top with the black scarf.
“You’re crazy, going off just like that, on an errand that’s as dumb as the guy on dharna. This is the same chap who slept on the road once. Today, he slept on a sofa at Raj Bhavan. For God’s sake, Jocko, he’s an anarchist,” snapped Alec Smart. “You can’t be flying off to Delhi just because you voted AAP in a fit of delusion years ago.”
Jocko zipped the bag shut with a flourish. His flight was at nine next morning, the ticket booked on the net and his passport was in his hip pocket. He would sleep in his jeans tonight and first thing in the morning would be on his way to Dubai International Airport.
“Smart, you wouldn’t understand. You’re one of the elite, born with a silver spoon. You wouldn’t understand dharnas and protests. Yes, I got an inheritance. That’s because my rich aunt in Goa didn’t meet me when I was growing up in Delhi. All she remembered was the little boy with the chubby cheeks,” said Jocko, brutally honest. “You say, Arvind’s an anarchist. What do you think I’m? I came hollering out of my mommy like I was late for Army recruitment!”
Alec Smart laughed. “Jocko, you’re a joke. I’ve seen your anarchy. When the Sheikh walks in you rise faster than froth in Stella Artois! When Appukuttan talks profit you’re bubbling Champagne. When George Cleetus says ‘spring’s in the air’, you jump like the barman at Thursdays! Jocko, you must have the surname Street but you drive like you’ve speed cameras on the soles your feet, real slow!”
Jocko’s face went beetroot red. “Smart, I don’t want to say this but you’re a lousy self-centred weasel, a shrimp! If you weren’t my friend from your Doon School days and my government school days, I would show you anarchy, right here and now. You vote Congress and the fight is between AAP and BJP. Whyn’t you shut up? I and Arvind and Kapil Sharma, we’re street-fighters, rebels from way back.”
Alec Smart muted the television. “Jocko, I say you’re on a silly errand and that’s it. You saw pictures of Arvind Kejriwal sleeping on the sofa in Raj Bhavan. But you should not forget that you got your chance of a lifetime with this Dubai job. Sure, your aunt left you an amount of money. But keep going like this you’ll end up sleeping on the dirty streets of Delhi for the rest of your life, propping up the prone Kejriwals of this world. And FYI Jocko, Kapil Sharma is a stand-up comedian not an AAP politician.”
Jocko gulped. “My mistake. I meant Kapil Mishra and, yes, Mishra is no longer with Arvind. I hope I come face to face with the traitor. My fist will connect, you bet it will,” he said, a glower on his face. “And lemme tell you for the last time, I’m not on a silly errand, I’m on a mission. When the general calls, his army has to respond. That’s basic rule for the street-fighter. I and Arvind, we got things to do.”
“Bollocks,” said Alec Smart. “Kejriwal is a pucca politician. He doesn’t do anything for people like you, not anymore. He promised the moon to Delhi. Name me one thing he has done for Delhi that stands out? Last time I was in Delhi I saw the dirty streets. And the smog, I couldn’t see past the bonnet of the car. Just for kicks I took the Delhi Metro once, and I got my bones cracked.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that before…but that is not Arvind’s fault. There are cars in Dubai. Do you see pollution? No. The pollution in Delhi is because of Modi. Arvind gave the Metro to Delhi. But Modi wouldn’t let Arvind’s government run. The Lt. Governor and his IAS gang are to blame. That’s why Arvind was in the Raj Bhavan today, not in the PMO.”
Alec Smart wasn’t impressed. He lit a Marlboro. Jocko Street lit a Camel. He will switch to Wills Navy Cut in Delhi. He had promised a carton of the Navy Cut to Appukuttan. Also prasad from the Ayyappa Temple in Mayur Vihar. Then, there was the letter from George Cleetus, to someone in the archdiocese. Cleetus had connections with the Vatican and Cleetus said the letter was pastoral, kind of political but not political. Like Jocko Street, political but not political!
At nine next morning Jocko was in the Dubai-Delhi Emirates flight. A few hours later the aircraft was over Delhi. It was almost noon IST. When Jocko Street stepped out of Indira Gandhi International, a dust-storm was building. And then, suddenly, it was Darkness at Noon!
‘Welcome to Arvind’s City’, Jocko thought, his mind on Alec Smart the ‘Smart Alec’, which is the politically correct term for ‘smartass!’ AAP warrior Jocko Street, in the Uber cab, smiled to himself, as rain smacked the road, settling the dust of the storm with it.