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Avatar, the Traffic man

Short Story by Nirman Kishor Prasad

While walking on the street or wandering in a marketplace, we often come across few events or actions that fascinate us and arise curiosity with excitements. We try to observe it as to why it is so, why it happens and why someone is behaving that way. Despite all efforts, one cannot stop these events to happen and persons to behave in a way which is unique and not acceptable in the normal course of human behaviour. But, these are widespread around us. 

It was hardly a fortnight I had shifted to a new place.  

One day, while I was on the way to market, I saw a man in a funny attire – multicolored bandi, very short stripped pajama, a long hat with peacock quills, in one cheek Indian tricolor and on the other letters ‘Jindabad’, in one hand a big flag of ‘Lotus’ and on the other flag of ‘hand, walking proudly alone with loud slogans – Vote for Lotus and vote for Hand. For a while, he sat on the bench of a tea shop. People amused him with words. Hey! Whom do you elect this time?  Waving a flag, he uttered Lotus…Lotus…then few big names. People laughed at him, and he moved ahead unhurt. After few days, once again he appeared and on reply to question, said waving flag Hand…Hand…and few big names. He was least bothered about others’ satirical remarks. 

Yes, people accept such actions as entertainers and time pass. Nevertheless, over the period, such regular activities make these persons confident of their events and actions and endorse a feeling of pride as important persons playing a vital role in the present scenario.  

I am not a researcher on such persons, but when I see such events or actions happening around me, they affect my thoughts and feelings off and on for the entire day.  

On another day, while crossing a square very near to my residence, my eyes stuck on a person standing adjacent to the traffic police at the centre of the square. He was wearing black pyjama and a torn yellow shirt with big red stickers of heart on its back, waving a red triangular flag tied to a stick, a whistle in the lips. Very actively controlling the traffic moments, sometimes he used to shout to the traffic – hey, have patience, all will get a chance to cross the square, Oh Aare bhai sahib, why are you so haste? Life is precious, and someone is waiting for your safe arrival, O dear sisters, let the signal be green then walk on the zebra crossing. 

I enjoyed his actions for quite some time. It was perfectly alright. People were cooperating to his words as if he was the right person to guide them. Traffic police on the centre top was also on the job, but he knew that people’s attentions are more on this traffic man who is working around him at the bottom.  After a while, I moved ahead. Though this incident was not new for me, that place is new; it was altogether a new experience at that locality. 


It was evening 6.00 o’ clock. Few friends were sitting in my drawing room. They were all old inhabitants of that locality, staying there for many years. I was seeking information on nearby schools, market places, hospitals and other necessary amenities. After obtaining information, I wished to know from them something more on that traffic man whom I saw on the square. 
“Do you know the person regularly seen on the square as a traffic man?” I said.
“Yes, we are seeing him since the day we came to this locality, more than five years, but know nothing on him, he may be a mentally disturbed or a mad,” said one of my friends.
“I saw him today, traffic was obeying his signals and enjoying his acts too,” I said.
“Yes, over the period, he is very lovable, people like and respect him too,” said my other friend.
On that day, we had enough discussions on such experiences which we come across often in our normal life. When we see such persons, we pause, look them, think a while and move away. 
Nevertheless, I had the whirl in my mind on such behaviors. My anxiety was as to why human beings come to this stage and behave in such manners.
Reacting to my curiosity, my friends said: may be initially when a person behaves abnormally, there is resistance from parents. Parents try their best to make the person understand that what he does is not the normal behavior as the society expects. But, if the person continues, does not listen, after a point parents stop saying further and become sad. Society plays the same role like parents, but when society even fails, it accepts the person as it is. The society treats the person as in frenzy, mentally disturbed or in madness.  The older persons advise others to leave them as they are, express love and affections thinking God has made them in such way.  On the contrary, such persons over the period get stronger and stronger in their thoughts and actions. They are happy with their state of minds, beliefs and actions.  
“Then, is there any way to bring them back to main stream of the society as a normal person?” I asked.
“Either a doctor treating those persons can say something on that or ‘He’ – the Almighty! But, we feel seriously about them when people treating them differently, children provoke then disgracefully for amusement, and they stay alone in isolation murmuring within,” said my friend.
Hearing all these, I was overwhelmed with an unknown pain and desperate to do something for them but was totally helpless. From core of my heart, a voice came.
“I feel if they come out of their frenzies, then, may realize the wrong and right of societal ethics.” I said.
Our sitting was over with a hope that soon a day would come when such aberrations would not be seen anywhere. Friends left me. 
Several nights I could not sleep peacefully.  Unwillingly such thoughts had disturbed me again and again.  


Whenever, I crossed that square, I used to see that traffic man in action, toiling hard to control the hasty traffic. I observed him for a while and always admired to see his unparallel stamina, zeal and efforts for the people.
It was a holiday. I was out there on a morning walk. Passing by that square, I came to one of the oldest tea stall where there was always a gathering for the refreshing tea – sometimes tasty ‘Adarakwali’ and sometimes flavored ‘Elaichiwali’. People had to wait for a cup of tea. 
But, on that day, there were less people, so I wished to have a cup of tea. Seeing me the tea man asked, “Sahib, Adarakwali or Elaichiwali?”
“Adarakwali…” I responded.
After a while, people around the tea stall left and I was lone customer there. Sitting on the bench, I thought to know something more on that traffic man who had created turbulence in my calm mind. 
“Bhai sahib, do you know the person acting as traffic man on this square?” I said.
“Sahib, you are talking about ‘Avatar ’- He is Avatar Singh. Yes, I know him. He is born and brought up here only, my son is his friend. We all used to admire when he was in school and College. But, it is his fate sahib…and His wish…” Tea man screamed.
“If you don’t mind, tell me everything you know about him,” I spoke eagerly.
“Sahib, when he was small, he was very normal and pretty as any child of that age. He was good in study too. He is the youngest among three brothers and one sister. His father was a teacher in a primary school. Being youngest he was very affectionate to all. He finished his schooling commendably, then shown outstanding result in +2. We had great expectations from him. His father wanted him to be an engineer. But, it was bad luck; he did not qualify Engineering Entrance Exam. His father admitted him in +3. From here onwards started his downfall,” speaking this much he paused as the tea from the Kettle started overflowing.
I kept waiting for next words from him.
He offered me hot Adarakwali Tea. Slowing down the flame of the stop, he sat quietly near me
“Today, relatively less work Sahib because of holiday, no office, no rush in market,” he uttered relaxingly.
Seeing my eyes’ eagerness to visit Avatar’s past, he continued further.
“Sahib, while in college, he started posing issues like unemployment, pollutions, deforestation, reservations, political hypocrisy, indiscipline, deterioration of moral values. Not getting proper answer to these, he used to be very sad. Sometimes, we used to advise him to study and not to spoil his precious time in undesirable things. Gradually, he fed up with repetitive restrictions. He was seen in parks, isolated lanes murmuring these issues and arguing within. Seeing such behaviors, people responded him differently. Day by day, he was away and alone in his world of issues. One day, he left everything and seen in the square as a Traffic man doing this service to the common people,” said the tea man with wetted eyes and paused. 
I could feel his emotions. His voice and body language were speaking a volume then what he had just spoken to me. I decided not to request him more on him. Thanking him, I left with assurance to meet on some other day.         


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