The Significance of An Insignificant Man


The Significance of An Insignificant Man

Illustration: Shruti Yatam/Arré


arly one December morning in Delhi, my roommate and I found ourselves perpetuating the monkey man myth on the terrace of our Khirki Extension flat. We had been involved in several low-key brawls with a neighbour over a “racy” Pink Floyd poster, and the sudden appearance of unclaimed trash on our doorstep. As a result, we had been informed that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi had cut off our water supply for “maintenance”. So like any other two (mostly) honest, law-abiding citizens, driven by the desire to go number two, we decided to go steal our water from our neighbour. This involved standing on a terrace in sub-zero temperatures at 4 am, wearing nothing but a light cotton T-shirt so that we wouldn’t get soaked and die of pneumonia. As we passed buckets down in a line, we discussed with energy typical of Delhi boys, how we wouldn’t pay our water bills for the next few months at least. But as usual on the first of the next month, our landlord teleported to our doorstep, shiny gold tooth and all, and extorted ₹600 out of us.

Seven days into this water crisis, by which point my roommate had gone to live with a friend because he had had enough, and I got used to brushing my teeth with a 500ML Bisleri bottle, our water supply magically returned. We immediately went back to our old ways, showering every alternate day, and watering the herb garden when it looked like leaves were close to death. That month when the landlord appeared, things had changed. His gold tooth had turned silver, it seemed, as he morosely informed us that the new Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had decided we wouldn’t have to pay for water anymore. My roommate and I cheered so loud we almost risked getting into another brawl with the neighbour.