It was bound to come sooner or later. The wonder – the absolute, outrageous, impudent surprise of it all is that it has come so soon. The Games have barely limped to their pathetic conclusion – and those of us who are waiting for the post-Games reckoning are waiting but impatiently, inadequately consoled by the sound of the sharpening of the knives, the braiding of the hangman’s rope – or, most likely, the Japanese water torture of the promised Shunglu probe. And in the midst of this unfolding fiasco, this still-running disaster, the lovely Mr Arvinder Singh Lovely, Delhi’s Transport Minister, has made the suggestion that the insult of the Games lane, the closing off to the public of a significant part of the road which has been made with public money, be made permanent. This – as we were told in full-page ads paid for by us – was done with threats of a hefty fine or, worse, far worse, being exposed to the courtesies of a Delhi cop. The ineffable experience of crawling along patiently (but proudly, always proudly!) while sundry others flashing CWG insignia whizzed past in the CWG lane – an experience that so many of us chose to miss, could now become a permanent feature of the metro experience. I can’t wait!
It’s midnight: An aspiring model cooks up a batch of Fem Bleaching Cream; an actor rehearses his dialogues to the sounds of manic laughter, “Oh tell them all it is I who is God,”; a fourteen year old feigns sleep as his father looks on, wondering what has prompted his son to abandon his studies and look for work; a woman throws her abusive husband to the floor and whips him with his belt.
In the morning, a young man will awaken at the crack of dawn and walk down to the slaughterhouse; an empty street shall bear witness to a middle aged woman’s defiant declaration, “I will work. I don’t care what you think! I don’t care what the world thinks.” The muezzin will call the faithful to prayer. A bulldozer will plow through the heart of this twenty five year old settlement: clearing space for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, altering these lives forever.
In February 2006, the residents of Nangla Maanchi, a working class settlement of migrants in Delhi, were confronted by a signboard: “This land is the property of the government. It should be vacated.” By August that year, Nangla was bulldozed to make way for an “athlete’s village” to house this year’s Commonwealth Games.