Chapter 33 - An Appointment to Meet with Girlee

The Prime Minister of Tawa – 33

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Judy decided to meet Girlee out of curiosity. Girlee had been trying to meet with Mash for many weeks, but Mash had resolutely decided to ignore her.

‘Do you mind if I meet her?’ Judy asked Mash one morning when she heard him instruct Kamel over the phone to fob Girlee off yet again.

‘I don’t think you will have anything in common with her. She is painful, irritating and a big bore.’

‘Surely Mash, things couldn’t possibly get more boring than this!’

‘Suit yourself. What time do you want to see this b……….?’

‘Mash! Mind your language. Just because you don’t like her, you don’t have to be so damn ….’

‘There you go. Even you are being profane. Has Heather left for school?’

“Yes, she has. Can you ask Girlee to come here at five in the evening? You are unlikely to come back at five o’clock, are you?’

‘Honey I can’t. You know I would if I could. There’s so much going on that …’

‘In that case I hope you wouldn’t mind if I had this activist woman over and gave her a cup of tea?’

‘Let me tell Kamel,’ Mash muttered and picked up the phone.

‘Did you know her very well when you were at school?’

‘No. Not very well. The boys sat on the right side of the class and the girls to the left. I do remember her very well. She was quite chirpy. Asked a lot of questions in class. None of us really liked her. I didn’t, at any rate.’

‘I guess she tried to talk to you and you cut her off.’

‘No. She never tried to talk to me and I never cut her off. Judy, I don’t think you can even imagine how we used to be in those days. Boys and girls never mixed. Not at school anyway.’

‘Tell me, why haven’t you been in touch with more people? I mean, you met Urush because I got to know Barbara. Why aren’t you in touch with more of your classmates? Surely there must be many people you know in Hepara? You lived here till you were fifteen!’

‘I’m sure there are. And once in a while I do have people walk over to me and say – Hey we used to know each other very well! – and I treat them like dirt.’ I don’t think you would ever understand.

Judy was silent for a minute. Then she said, ‘I think you could try and explain. You owe it to me, Mash.’

‘It’s like this,’ Mash stiffened his shoulders and started to explain. ‘After General Naranin took over, he did not have much opposition. The TFP made a few token protests and then folded up. Until the Americans withdrew from Yalee, General Naranin’s regime was quite stable. It was only after that that Horan and Peelee and other started to organise protests.’

‘What has that to do with you ignoring the people you knew?’

‘Well, everyone who stayed back is, in a sense, a collaborator. Each and every one of them! I mean, no one seems to hate General Naranin. Except the Seedas. And maybe the communists! Each and everyone has at least something good to say about General Naranin. Either they think he crushed the Seedas or they tell me that the crime rate was much lower during Naranin’s time than it is now.’

‘So, you‘ve decided to hate everyone you knew?’ Judy had a small smile on her face.’

‘You think I’m being paranoid, do you? Look at this. Horan took three years to repeal that stupid law which Kemon’s government passed. The one which imposes a limitation period for criminal offences. And he did that after the Hepara Herald ran a full-page editorial wondering whether the government was asleep. And why did they let General Naranin leave the country in the first place? They should have held him back and tried him. Why did they give an assurance to the Swiss government that General Naranin would not face any charges and he was not a fugitive from Tawan justice? They made it so easy for him to settle down in Switzerland and so difficult to get him extradited.’

‘Is that what you want? To extradite him to face trial here?’

‘Obviously, I want to hang that bastard.’

‘Is that why you came back?’

‘Of course. Well no. But now that I am here, I do want to get my revenge.’

‘So, why don’t you do it?’

‘I can’t. Not yet. The army will not stand for it. Before I try to get that bastard back, I need to get the economy in decent shape. After people start thinking that I can give them a decent deal, I can take the risk of upsetting the army.’

‘So, when will that happen?’

‘Now that I have a peace deal – hopefully Bendron Corp will want to invest in this country. Others should follow. Then we privatise everything which Naranin nationalised. After that hey! I will be ready to talk business with Naranin.’

‘And how long will all this take?’

‘I don’t know honey. I really don’t know. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that timetables and plans have little meaning here.’

‘So, you are going to be really busy?’

‘I will be. Yes, I will be.’

‘In which case, I might as well find something to do while you do so many important things, which you may not even be able to discuss with me.’

‘Judy. Please understand. There are things you just can’t understand!’

‘Try me. Go on. Try me. Let’s see if I understand.’

‘Judy please.’

‘What makes you think I just want to sit around and attend receptions and smile at the King’s sister’s second daughter when she tells me how she prefers Monte Carlo to Las Vegas?’

‘Come on. You don’t have to do that too often.’

‘No I don’t. But that seems to be the only thing I do. Other than Barbara, I don’t even know anyone out here. And on top of that you get upset if I say that I would like to meet this Girlee.’

‘Girlee is different. She is a human rights activist. She is trouble on two legs.’

‘What trouble Mash? What sort of trouble do you anticipate?’

‘Well, there are so many areas where Tawan laws are backward. People like Girlee lobby for change.’

‘So what’s wrong with that?’

‘Nothing except that I have enough on my plate. I do not want to pile on… Oh! You just wouldn’t understand.’

‘Don’t tell me that. Don’t ever tell me that I won’t understand Mash,’ Judy screamed. After a few seconds she quietened down and said, ‘Try me Mash. Go on. Indulge me. Tell me why changing a few laws is such a bad thing.’

‘It isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that, every change requires me to overcome some resistance from somewhere. And I just cannot fight too many fires at the same time.’ Mash hugged Judy and held her to him for a few seconds. ‘Honey I’m so sorry. I am being an absolute shit. Listen. You should meet this Girlee and listen to all that she has to say. Most probably she will say that we ought to have better treatment of under-trials, or that homosexuality should be de-criminalised or that we ought to do something to improve the conviction rate in case of offences against women. She will be one hundred percent right. We do need to do something about all this. But, not at this moment! Not today when I need to speak with Ted Hoffman and ask him what else I need to do to get Bendrop Corp to invest in Tawa.  Do you understand honey? I’m sure you do.

Judy was silent and looked thoughtful. Mash released her from his hug and walked off.

To be Continued


More by :  Vinod Joseph

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