It was back then, in the late 1990’s when I developed a strong hatred towards floaters and chappals. Even now, my blood boils as people walk across the platform wearing chappals. It is like a black hole in my pocket where everything is perennially lost. I am a shoe-polisher, if that is what you call me. In my head I am a shoe artist. These chappals don’t really understand what it means to be a shoe. Those laces twirling over each other, gradually transforming into a knot. The sturdy sole is the soul of a shoe. Shoes talk to me.
At 9 P.M., I was off to the Shiva Mandir to perform my daily ritual. Yes, I steal Chappals. You can call it my way of dealing with ‘this’ problem. I steal them, mutilate them and perform their last rites. The burning smell of rubber is divine. The station was bustling with people, when a young man in his thirties walked up to me. As I began polishing his shoes, his face turned red. He shouted ‘Chidambaram, Chidambaram’ as tears rolled out of his eyes. He cried ‘democracy is dying, democracy is dying’, as he tossed a five rupee coin and left.
I thought about it for a while and then I left to perform my daily rituals at the Mandir. I stopped by at an electronic store. My gaze fell on the television flashing news about the very same man, Harvinder Singh. He was shown hurling a shoe at Chidambaram at some press conference. I was thrilled. I was a part of a movement, a revolution. I jumped at that very instant. It felt like the ‘fragrance’ of burning rubber.
Today, I slept under a flyover and wondered what has gone wrong. By polishing shoes, I was serving the elites. And by burning Chappals, I am destroying the bourgeoisie. My mental state reached an equilibrium. No chappals were lost from the Shiva Mandir that night.