Saugandh spell

Rachna Singh
Saturday, 4 August 2018

While wading through waist-deep rainwater on a road or while being showered with toxic foam bubbling out of a nearby lake, and on seeing a bridge come crumbling like it were made of semolina, we often ask why the government does not keep its promises.

Trying to find an answer to that is such a great leveller! Women, in their kitty groups, men in their boys’ nights-out, and seniors in their satsangs, all attempt finding a way to make the government more accountable. But, we all face one brick wall or another. We end up like that mad mason who has built walls all around himself.

While wading through waist-deep rainwater on a road or while being showered with toxic foam bubbling out of a nearby lake, and on seeing a bridge come crumbling like it were made of semolina, we often ask why the government does not keep its promises.

Trying to find an answer to that is such a great leveller! Women, in their kitty groups, men in their boys’ nights-out, and seniors in their satsangs, all attempt finding a way to make the government more accountable. But, we all face one brick wall or another. We end up like that mad mason who has built walls all around himself.

Why can’t we just walk up to the elected representative and say, ‘You promised, didn’t you?’ Like they’d say, Tumhe meri saugandh in the old movies?

Just those three magical words, tumhe meri saugandh made sure the director had enough content for a full-length feature film. In a movie I saw, the hero had, on the day of his wedding, inadvertently, killed a guy and vamoosed before the policemen came. He was declared a fugitive. He scaled the wall one night to meet his wife, ensured he had a son installed in her womb and then left, asking her not to EVER tell anyone about his visit. He just said, Tumhe meri saugandh.

So, for the next three hours, she went around ruining her life and the lives of half a dozen people because she was under the saugandh. Her growing belly gave her mother-in-law a heart attack. The rest of the folk beat her up. However, despite all the ill-treatment: all the pushing, shoving and beating, she kept mum about the guy’s whereabouts who had, by now, bought himself a fake beard and sadhu-clothes. He stayed in a temple and by virtue of his new clothes and fake facial hair, he was safe. But, the missus was being beaten up almost everyday. Like it were a Hobby Class being offered in the village — ‘Free time on your hands? Come beat the fugitive’s wife. No entry fee.’

Most of her entry in scenes was now, by way of hurtling in, flying in, crashing in. And, landing on a stone. On a bush. On a pressure cooker. When she was not bleeding from her forehead from these falls, she repeatedly banged her head on the kitchen granite-top to make it bleed. To prove that she was pure.  

Finally, with her four-year old in tow, she stayed as an outcast, on the banks of the river. After some more head banging and injuries, there was a happy ending when the hero ditched his fake beard and told the truth.
I am impressed with the power of these three words. Is there any way I can lay my hands on the secret formula behind making these three words as potent as they were in the sixties? Can I then go to my MLA and ask him to fix stuff by putting him under the saugandh spell?  I would love to see him banging his head against every gnarled electric pole, every pothole, every broken road median. Who knows, he may even drown himself in the foamy lake!

I might need a fake beard then, I guess.

(Bestselling author Rachna Singh is a sit-down comedienne) 

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