Public Strike3 mins 212 3 mins 212
It was already 7 in the morning on Sunday, and the newspaper had not arrived yet. Spoorthi's dad would not start his day without a cup of coffee and newspaper by the side. Ranga came to deliver the newspaper and was huffing and puffing. Spoorthi's dad inquired what happened. Ranga apologized for late delivery and informed that few of the roads were blocked on the way which needed to take a different route today.
Spoorthi's father sat down in veranda with the fresh filter coffee and started to read the newspaper. He suddenly screamed."These Idiots have nothing better to do in life." Worried by this unusual scream Spoorthi, her mother, and Krishna the pet cat all came out to the verandah. Spoorthi's dad was visibly upset, he was talking to himself angrily and engrossed in the news he was reading. Spoorthi's mother asked him what was the matter. A very old statue of the founder of the town Mr. Ramalingam which was outside the town hall had been vandalized. He had huge respect for the founder as he had got financial help from the founder's family to complete his studies. Mr. Ramalingam was known for his charity work and supporting the local community employment. Now Spoorthi's father also realized why Ranga was delayed.
The town also had few industrialists who did not approve of Mr. Ramalingam and wanted to bring people from other places for cheap labor. This often created conflicts within groups that followed the founder and the industrialists. The news article indicated that one of industrialist was behind the vandalism. The followers of the founder had called for a public strike asking for the Mayor to take action against the culprits.
Spoorthi's quarters were a little away from the center of the town and hence the people were busy in their normal routine not knowing what had happened. Slowly the news spread out and the situation started to change. The street hawkers hurriedly moved home, few shops closed down and a few adventurous shop owners kept it open. Spoorthi stayed indoors and very curious to know what was happening outside but feared that she will be scolded by father if she went out. She peered through the window, almost popped her head out of the gaps in the window grill. The street looked empty as if it was middle of the night and only stray dogs were to be seen. It was windy and howled as it swept away the dry leaves from the ground forming a miny twister. The telephone rang in midst of this silence and it was a call from the Home Guard office, Spoorthi's dad had opted to serve a couple of years ago and now was time for support as auxiliary to police in a sensitive situation.
As soon as Spoorthi's father left home, she immediately sprung up and asked her mother if she could go out and play. Mother was busy preparing for the lunch and she knew Spoorthi would not give up easily. She told Spoorthi to stay within the compound of the quarters. Spoorthi went out and called out for her friends for a game of hopscotch. They searched and found a flat, smooth piece of stone, as they drew the squares for the hopscotch game with a piece of chalk it made loud squeaky sounds which echoed in the silent neighborhood. As they were playing, they heard people shouting at a distance. The sound grew louder gradually. It was clear that the people who were shouting were headed towards Spoorthi's quarters. Spoorthi and her friends ran and hid under the staircase of the quarters, closed their eyes tightly hoping that the people would pass without noticing them. They heard footsteps close by and rustling through the dry leaves. It was as if someone was looking for them, Spoorthi even though she was scared she opened one of the eyes gently to check. A hand stood out right in front of her face as she opened the eyes, it was making a gesture to grab hands and to come out. She somehow trusted and grabbed the hand and came out in open. It was Ranga who stood there with his bicycle parked behind and some banners on the carrier of the bicycle. He quickly asked her if she and friends wanted to go in the rally, it would be fun and also they will get laddu if they went with him till the town hall. Spoorthi and her friends looked at each other on the proposal from Ranga. They could imagine the yellow sugary softball of laddu in their hands and mouth-watering. They all gave a unanimous nod, Ranga gave each of the girls a banner to hold, he told them to raise the banner and repeat after him as they walk to the town hall. All excited they joined Ranga and waited behind him, soon they crossed the gates of the quarters and with hundreds of people who were shouting slogans. The girls jumped and hopped enjoyed the attention they got from the rest of the crowd. The passing by protesters pinched on Spoorthi's cheek looking at the leader of the cute little battalion. As the crowd turned around the corner of the road they approached a traffic circle, the traffic circle had many folks dressed in khaki uniform, few police. The rally stopped and the girls came forward to see what happened. Among the men guarding the circle one figure looked familiar, Spoorthi leaned to check to her surprise it was her father holding a big lathi and wearing a green helmet. He had come as a home guard to maintain peace in the city amid the protest. A shiver ran through Spoorthi's body as she let out a scream and ran back to the quarters, her friends followed. They reached the quarters in no time. They looked behind to confirm Spoorthi's dad had not noticed. Spoorthi and friends laughed heartily at their adventure. Just then Spoorthi's mother called her to come home, she ran inside and hugged her mother tightly...