Democrazy Excerpt | The Media Circus
The Media Circus was at her doorstep! Her worst fears were coming true. She called up the Big Boss but he didn’t take her call. She called up the local police inspector but he too declined the call. She called up Adarsh and he didn’t answer either. His day was spent in meetings, so perhaps busy in one, she thought. He always called back as soon as his meetings ended.
Soon the main gate was blocked with all the vans parked outside. She noticed the journalists setting up their cameras, like a battalion of soldiers preparing for an ambush on an enemy position. They checked their equipment, some of them relieved themselves under the massive peepal tree right outside the gate, cigarettes were handed out and puffs of smoke filled the air. Madam watched the guard Ram Prasad look on helplessly as the crowd of media people forced the gate open and ran inside, cameras perched on the shoulders of cameramen, mikes in the hands of the journalists, everybody sprinting to be the first inside her office and be the one who ‘broke’ the news.
Madam adjusted the pallu of her sari, took a sip of water, wiped the sweat off her face, checked herself in her portable mirror and sat back in her executive chair to face the incoming onslaught of questions. She had done nothing wrong. She was confident that they would go back satisfied that she was nowhere at fault in the issue over Nafisa’s disappearance.
She heard them many seconds before they appeared, huffing and puffing their way through the long corridor leading to her office. Madam braced herself for impact as the army entered her fortress through the open door. They were face-to-face. Their faces lit up as they entered her well-equipped office. The cool air from the air-conditioner was a refreshing change from the heat that they had been braving outside. They were all sweating, panting and tired. Climate change had turned out to be a gamechanger. Earlier this year, it had snowed for the first time in 100 years in Indraprastha in June and now there was an oppressive heat wave in December.
‘Let me get some water and tea for all of you,’ she smiled graciously at the journalists.
‘Thank you, Madam,’ about half of them said in chorus. The others were too parched to even speak, panting from the exertion.
‘Let’s start after tea, okay?’
The battalion nodded.
Madam’s office was a spacious room where she occasionally conducted meetings with her entire staff. There were about a dozen chairs and a big carpet right next to Madam’s desk. The media persons made themselves comfortable in the room, happily enjoying their tea with Parle-G biscuits, sitting down wherever there was an opportunity.
Ten minutes later they were done and ready for battle. Madam observed the journalists get in the mood for questioning. Some were doing push-ups to get the adrenalin flowing, a few of the lady reporters tore at their hair and some others got their cameramen to slap them to get the blood pumping. A particularly enthusiastic young man actually started beating his head against a wall. The students and staff started gathering outside the office, curious to know what was going on in Madam’s office.
‘Alright Madam, ENOUGH. DON’T WASTE ANY MORE OF OUR TIME.’ The one who had been beating his head against the wall slammed his teacup into the floor and shouted. Everybody else also looked ready. The cameras were rolling like tanks about to crush enemy positions, while the mikes were all pointed in Madam’s direction like light machine guns, ready for fire.
‘Madam, are you not ashamed of yourself?’ He shouted at her.
‘A young girl, her entire life in front of her, came to you begging, pleading, asking that you admit her to your school, and you kicked her out? Are you a human or the devil?’
‘But, I never kicked…’ she was taken aback by the intensity of the onslaught.
A lady clad in a purple sari suddenly shouted, ‘You are a teacher. How could you do this to a budding life? It is women like you who are the real reason why India sees so many cases of rape, dowry deaths and cancer. You are the bane of humanity!’
The first journalist, the head-banger, spoke again. There was a small streak of blood running across his forehead but he didn’t seem to notice. ‘Madam, it just shames me to stand in this same office where you killed that young girl. My head already feels dizzy and it’s like my life is gradually getting sucked out of me.’
She pointed a finger at his head. ‘What nonsense are you saying? You need to go see a doctor.’
The journalist standing next to him took offense and shouted at Madam. ‘Madam, I will not allow you to insult one of my colleagues like this. You are the one who should see a doctor, you psychopathic killer of young girls. You are the reason why our daughters can’t go out to clubs in mini-skirts.’
‘Madam hai hai. Madam hai hai,’ she started shouting. The others also joined in.
Madam was now beginning to lose her patience. ‘Why did you people even come here if you didn’t want to listen to me? I am not feeling well. I need to go now.’
One of the lady journalists turned to her camera and said, ‘Dear viewers, as you can see this is the face of a killer. This is the face of a woman who forced a young innocent girl to commit suicide. Look at her closely. Look how she is trying to avoid our questions and run away, in a clear admission of her guilt. We just wonder how many more lives she has taken sitting in this plush air-conditioned office while the students of her school don’t even have water to drink.’