Who stole our drains?

They were supposed to right there!

Ajaz A Baba
Srinagar, Publish Date: Aug 18 2018 11:43PM | Updated Date: Aug 18 2018 11:43PM

“Just imagine the robbery would never have come to light had it not been for Tuesday’s torrential rains!” my friend said.

“What robbery? Has there been a robbery? When? Where?” I was surprised for I hadn’t heard about any robbery.

“Why! Don’t you know?! Such a big robbery and you have no idea about it!”

“But when was it? What has been stolen?”

“Remember how it rained in torrents Tuesday last week?” my friend said in a tone of exaggerated patience, “Remember how the roads got flooded? Knee deep at places? Even thigh deep at some places?”

“Yes! Yes!” I said impatiently, irritated by his tone and his smug smile. “But you were talking about some robbery...”

“And you don’t see the connection?” he continued in the same irritating tone.

“No I don’t!” this was getting really exasperating.

“Well I don’t blame you. Most people didn’t. Besides the robbery has been hushed up for the time being,” he said.

“So as usual you are the only one who knows about it?” I said with undisguised sarcasm.

“More or less!” he shrugged his shoulders and I could see that my sarcasm did not even create even a tiny indentation on his thick skin. I should know better by now to expect that it would.

“Initially the matter did not strike my mind as well,” the expression of amazement on his face as he said this clearly described that to be a highly unusual occurrence, “though it didn’t take me long to reach this conclusion.”

“What the hell are you talking about?!” he really had me confused by his rigmarole.

“The robbery of course!” he said. Maybe the look on my face terrified him somewhat (I must admit that by now I was sizing up heavy objects in the room with the intention of throwing them at his head!) for he lifted his hands in a defensive gesture and said, “Wait Wait! I will explain. You see when it rained heavily on Tuesday...”

“God! How many times are you going to harp on Tuesday’s rainfall!” I interrupted him.

“Let me complete what I have to say! When it rained the roads got flooded.”

“So what’s strange about that? Don’t they always! When it rains roads will get flooded! That’s no new discovery,”

“Yes but it shouldn’t happen. You see there are drains and all the rainwater should flow into these! Or rather there were drains!” he said.

“Blocked probably!” I snapped.

“It is not that simple! The drains have been stolen!” he said in a loud whisper.

“Stolen! What do you mean? How can a drain be stolen?” I said.

“Why not! If one sets one mind to it one can steal anything! You can steal a glance, a look, you can steal a show or you can steal the spotlight.  You can steal a march on someone and you can even steal someone’s thunder so what is the big deal if somebody sets himself upon stealing a drain,” he said with a laugh. 

“But why do you suppose the drains have been stolen. Maybe they were never there in the first place!”

“What do you mean maybe they were never there in the first place! Of course they were! Don’t you remember a drain was constructed on the main road outside our lane only three months back?”

“Of course how can I forget that! They were at it for almost a whole year. I had to park my car a mile away and must have worn out several shoes as I slogged daily through the mess they created.”

“Precisely and where is it now? You saw how even this road got flooded. The water reached above my knees. Drains are being duly constructed and in fact there is a big department which is concerned with this job, the UEED. You know what UEED is don’t you?”

“UEED? Well...I guess it stands for the Underworld Engineering Department,” I hazarded a guess knowing that in all probability he himself wouldn’t know what the abbreviation stood for. Besides underworld seemed to fit in pretty well for it was about drains after all and they do lie somewhere below the surface don’t they.

“Right you are,” he gave me a patronising smile. “You see there is this whole department dedicated to the construction of drains. And construct them they do and quite assiduously too. At any time half of the roads in this place are dug up because a drain is being constructed. So the drains were very much there. Let me tell you that I even went so far as to check with the department itself whether the drains had existed. There were detailed reports in the files detailing the extent of the drains constructed and the money spent on constructing them. Look I even got photocopies of the statistics,” he said and handed me the photocopies.

I whistled upon seeing the extent of expenditure involved. It was obvious that crores and crores of rupees are spent on constructing drains every year. “Well if nothing else the drains do drain a lot of money and resources,” I said. 

“Yes the department works so hard to construct them and then somebody steals them! Such brazen robbery!” he said.

“Now who would do that?” I asked him.

He gave a tight-lipped ‘secretive’ smile, “It could be some large criminal network, an underworld mafia with underground workers to carry out this subterranean robbery. Or it could be some anti-national anarchist group. One can’t rule out the foreign hand too because of the sheer scale of the theft…”

“The naughty neighbour?’’

His smile became even more tight-lipped and ‘secretive’ and he just raised one eye-brow as a response to my question and then said, “Or China! Well in any case sooner or later the mysterious robbery case will be solved. Of course the department won’t let these robbers intimidate them and will continue to construct drains, valiantly pouring crores of rupees down these drains. Meanwhile let’s do our bit towards preventing the roads getting flooded.”

“Our bit?”

“Let’s pray that it doesn’t rain anymore!” he said laconically.

(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at snp_ajazbaba@yahoo.com)

 

 

 

 

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