Today early morning (which is close to 7 am), I open the main door to pick up the morning newspaper. As I bend to pick up the strewn pages of the two papers, a horde of men enter my street.
I pick up the paper and look at these people. I am sure it was quite a sight for them to see this person standing there in pajamas and t-shirt, hair dishevelled and holding a bunch of crumpled newspaper pages.
There were roughly around 20 of them, all wearing different colours and hence not looking like a team. However, there was a sense of hurriedness about them which made me look at them. There was hardly anyone up and about on the street. Seeing me, their eyes lit up and they came towards my gate.
“You speak Kannada?”, he asked.
“Yes”, I answered in my trying-to-be-neutral accent. I added a “Sir” for added effect.
“Good. I want to inform you that this area is now falling under the ABC constituency”, he said in pure and impeccable English. After that, he added a smile.
I had just woken up so I tried to register what it meant for me.
“Okay, nice to know sir”, I offered.
“So, welcome to this constituency”, he held out his hand over my gate and continued to smile. I shook his hand gratefully and said I am glad to be welcomed.
All the other people smiled with some sort of satisfaction, as though the day’s work was done.
I turned back with the newspapers in my hand to go back inside. One of the guys in that crowd lingered at my gate and called me back with a whisper.
“He is also the candidate for our party”, he spoke slowly, tilting his head towards the person who spoke to me and was now walking away.
“Oh, nice”, I again offered.
“His name is Mr. DEF and of course you know our party”, he smiled and pointed at the banner he was carrying.
I smiled and returned inside. Some of the people were clapping as the party leader returned into the group of people standing in the middle of the street. They turned around and went back in the direction from where they came. It was as though they wanted to talk about the new leader to someone, anyone.
The Mrs. and I stop by at a restaurant to have breakfast on our way to work. We have our fare of dosas and coffee and I suddenly notice an elderly gentleman sitting opposite our table. I instantly recognize that face, and walk up to him.
“Sir”, I interrupt his conversation and tell him my name.
“I am from your school sir, passed out more than 10 years ago from there”, I tell to my former principal.
He looks up, smiles at me and as soon as he heard I was an alumnus, holds my hand and leads me to sit next to him.
“I am an old man now and my memory is no longer very good. But I am very pleased to meet you”
“Thank you sir. It has been more than a decade since I passed from the school”, I continued.
“Tell me. After 10 years, are you a happy man?”, he asked with the customary smile with which he greeted anyone who approached him back then.
“Yes sir”, I tell him. He remembered my father’s name. I tell him he is no more.
“Very sorry to hear that. Are you married?”
“Yes sir”, and I introduce my wife to him. I found adding the ‘sir’ bit a lot more appropriate and reverent than the sir I had used earlier in the morning.
“Good. It was very nice meeting you”, the old familiar smile on his face said.
We return back to our table and head off to our respective work places. What I take away with me is a feeling of having met someone who had significantly impacted my life, maybe in an indirect way, and I had an air of gratefulness around me.
I had used “sir” to address two different kind of people – one was a political leader who had the potential to influence my life and the other was a teacher who had already left his impact on me. The word used was the same, but the feelings were entirely different.