This article belongs to Sweet Grace column.


           You have felt often dejected and despaired and rejected by many people around you all because nobody knows you by name or your designation.  Right or not?


           No one respects you;  you go to the Public Distribution office and there the salespersons drive you mad telling you to come on the following day since several items have not arrived from the Head office; you go to the Corporation office to collect your certificate and the counter clerk there  tells you that the officer concerned is too busy and has not signed your valuable certificate and asks you nicely, "Could you after two months?"  You go to the railway reservation office and the booking clerk chides you for not mentioning the train Number and name on your reservation form.  "What do you think we are here for? To teach you the basics of rail travel?"  


         All the shopkeepers and particularly the Auto rickshaw drivers fleece you left right and center thinking that you have plenty of money to throw around and hence why shouldn't you be a little generous to them ?


        Often you might have also felt jealous at  seeing several VIPs and VVIPs whizzing past you at a tremendous speed in luxury cars on  city roads escorted by gun-totting security guards and cheered by thousands of  onlookers.  They don't have to wait in a Q for anything. Dozens of persons throng around them doing everything they demand. "How lucky and fortunate !" you  might say.


      Or, possibly you had wished that you were a retired  Chief Minister or a Minister of some portfolio or  an  ex-General from the Army,  when you see them go about in the midst of a platoon of Black cats or some variety of security personnel?


      Seeing and experiencing all these  you would have felt like screaming out, "Why can't I get justice and fair treatment in the  country of my birth? Why am I a neglected soul?" 


     True.  But cheer up, my friend.  In spite of it all, you are a very privileged man and much better off than those VIPs and VVIPs? Surprised?  Allow me to prove it to you.


      Did it ever occur to you, Pal, that the above people are a nervous lot?  They dare not show their face out all on their own.  Nor could they walk on a city road fearlessly by themselves like you and me?  They are deadly scared for their life.  They suffer from schizophrenia as well.  They are afraid that someone might kidnap them for a ransom.  Or,  some crank might shoot  at them and get them killed or totally decapacitated.  Next,  they could never sleep peacefully 8 hours a day.  When they do fall asleep they see  always some bad dreams, dreams of being tortured by some ruffians or go through some nightmare of falling into a deep trench and travel to the center of the earth.  They don't have the peace of mind you and I have and enjoy.


           Did you ever harbour a doubt that the soft drink you purchased from a roadside eatery or the vegetables from a vendor,  could contain some kind of poison?  Did you ever wonder that  the person walking towards you could be your enemy and would punch you in the stomach for no reason whatever?  Or, did you ever think that the person sitting to your left or right could pull out a knife and stab you mercilessly?


        Aren't you free to go where you like, sit or stand where you like?  No one would tell you, "Don't use this road, it is unsafe;  take the other one."  You  are at liberty to step into any restaurant, 5 star or no star, to have a cup of tea and drink that beverage confidently. You could walk into any shop and buy any stuff you want and like.


       Do remember that the VIPs and VVIPs  are not free to do any of the activities you and I could  do and have been doing all these days.  They are under constant surveillance by their own protectors.  They cannot visit any of their school time friends without permission from their bodyguards, nor sneak  into a  cinema theatre to see a Harry Potter movie nor eat any of their favourite dishes found displayed right before their very eyes.  They  won't be allowed  to exercise their free will, which is authorized to us in any democratic country, at any time.  I would say, they are well dressed prisoners surrounded by armed personnel even when they are asleep.  They don't even have the freedom an ordinary prisoner enjoys inside a conventional prison.


      To tell you the truth, I wouldn't like to change places with a VIP or VVIP.  I am happy where I am.  I consider myself an extraordinary OP par excellence with full personal freedom.


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                                                                   Sweet grace [Israel Jayakaran]