Aadhaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya?


Aadhaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya?

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

n my callow youth, I’ve had many flings. My passport was my first love; I remember holding on to it for dear life as I took my first flight abroad. When I turned 18, my driving licence, my gateway to make all my testosterone-fuelled Fast and Furious dreams come true, came into my life. This was followed by the voter ID card, definitive proof that I was now an adult worthy of electing the esteemed representatives of our country. Soon after I had a short, summer romance with the PAN card (although we were more like friends with benefits)

I don’t regret any of these relationships; they all did their bit for me, helped me grow into the person I am today, and I’m still friends with most of them. But they failed to complete me; I couldn’t see them as an integral part of my life. I wanted something more from my partner. And then on a fine winter morning in January 2009, I met Aadhaar.

It was love at first sight. I was awestruck the moment Aadhaar scanned my eyes. She was slender like Aishwarya Rai, had glossy white skin like Yami Gautam, was smart and way ahead of her time with a colourful display picture and biometric scanner. In those days of ugly black-and-white government ID photos and flimsy cards, Aadhar was like Tina to my Rahul. Kuch kuch hota hai, PAN, tum nahin samjhoge.


But before you think I am being shallow, let me tell you how deep my love was. I loved her for her intelligence and inner beauty. With her by my side, government welfare schemes and direct benefit transfers would be as easily accessible as giving a bribe and getting your work done at the Income Tax Department.

Aadhar’s parents, the Congress, and especially her father, Nandan Nilekani were extremely proud of her. They kept telling me about all her wonderful qualities and how she could change the life of any person she went out with. And they kept reiterating it 24X7, on TV, radio, Facebook, and Twitter. That’s when I knew I was in love.

Our first date was blissful. We connected and linked instantly, and she accompanied me everywhere, all the time. She had a special place in my wallet. And I wouldn’t miss a chance to tell my friends, relatives, cook, househelp, and the entire village about her. In fact, I even introduced her to the village cows and buffaloes. Everyone from foreign tourists to Bangladeshi residents were awed by her.

I was convinced that she was the missing piece in the puzzle of my life and so, I decided to marry her. Obviously, there was resistance from my parents as they belonged to a different caste, i.e. the BJP. They tried quite hard to convince me that she had certain issues and would ruin my life in the long run. But I was determined and their effort was in vain.

A lot of people started to say that Aadhaar had security issues. But if you ask me, she only had insecurity issues.

Nandan, Daddy Cool, played a key part in our marriage and convincing my parents, the BJP, of her charm and greatness. There was a change of heart, and the BJP became accepting of Aadhar after realising her potential. She got a royal welcome home and my parents spent like crazy on our pre-wedding shoot and advertising. In fact, she became like their daughter and they wished they had given birth to her.

But it spelt doom for our relationship.

Aadhar had changed. Or maybe, I had. But there was trouble in paradise. A lot of people started to say that she had security issues. But if you ask me, she only had insecurity issues. She started getting a bit controlling and wanted to know about every aspect of my life.

When we first started dating, she wasn’t the kind of person who’d want us to share Facebook passwords so that there would be “no secrets among us”. I don’t want anyone to know that I can’t spell Schwarzenegger without help from Google! Back then, all she cared about was my name and where I lived. But after our marriage, she wanted to know about my bank account, my insurance, SIM cards, airline tickets, mutual funds, post office, loo timings, every tiny detail.

Let’s agree that the key to a healthy relationship is separate bathrooms and some semblance of space between a couple. But there was just no privacy between us.

Every morning I wake up, I get a message for a new thing I must link Aadhaar with. Earlier, she was very polite and well mannered in her requests but now she’s just outright intimidating – setting deadlines and threatening me with consequences for missing them. There has been a complete communication breakdown and we don’t even get cosy anymore – I’m just busy keeping track of the deadlines.

If it weren’t awful enough that she has all my secrets, now all her friends know everything about me because her phone did not have a password. My embarrassing pictures and the fact that I am a heavy snorer is now public knowledge. All my deepest and most personal thoughts are so poorly secured, it’s like watching Arsenal defend at home this season.

When I raised some questions, she told me I don’t have the right to privacy, and this is all part of being in a committed relationship. I couldn’t see a way out of it, and finally approached the courts for a divorce. Every time the courts heard our case and made an observation, she would find a way to bypass it. It didn’t surprise me at all, I’d always known she was a tricky customer. Aadhar’s own parents had bailed on her.

As things stand today, like most relationships on Facebook, ours is complicated. I believe this is a love-hate relationship. She loves me, I hate her. Left to me, I would end our ties this very moment, but we all know there’s no getting rid of Aadhar.

It’s just like all those Black Mirror episodes: Everything starts out beautifully, but it’s obviously a trap. And then you die.