As the Babu, sharp as a ramrod and with roving eyes entered the Hospital, it looked like the premises are already smiling. The sweepers, never at hand to clean up the periphery or after the patients, had swept it spic n span, with bucketfuls of bleaching powder miraculously appearing and being sprinkled. The Babu, the burrah babu and the in-between babus straight went to the patient’s wards and started asking about the facilities there, whether they are getting the medicines right at pharmacy or outside and if the staff come to duty on time. Then they checked the x-ray machine rooms, ECG and the labs before heading to the Duty Room. Attendants were surprised to see the Duty Room open and abuzz with a doctor and two nurses who tried to give the impression of a good job. Then they went out to inspect the periphery and asked about the ambulance, but the ever-drunkard driver Keshua had put on a freshly ironed uniform and smiled with all his betel-stained teeth showing. But in his small wisdom, he had not forgotten to shine the vehicle with a full water & detergent wash. As his luck would have it, Murugan looked at his watch and did an about-turn. Keshu's job was saved by a whisker as the ambulance never fired up and patients routinely carried patients or dead bodies in trolleys, back of cycles, on makeshift stretchers and even on their shoulders.
They then headed to the Aaahar subsidized meal counter and decided to have lunch there. The Doctor in chief and CDMO taking it to be the ultimate lapse of their careers tried to manage the situation by almost begging on their knees and offering lunch at Circuit House or their own quarters instead, but the team was adamant. And after the frugal lunch, advising the CDMO and the collector to follow up on the lacking facilities and improve the healthcare they were air-borne again.
Finally, I also heaved relief. For me also it was the closest encounter with the 5-T devil; at least he was a known one now. But most of it struck as an eyewash and mere superficial with little changes on ground. The hospitals, schools and govt offices looked clean and working efficiently prior to the visit, went back to being the same slouchy places after the visit.
But this activity for sure fired some public imagination. For once, the Queen was seen as an able administrator looking after her people through her deputies making the flying trips. But there were criticism from the opposition as well. Some accused Murugan and posse of availing a Conch party car while on the tour thus making it all seem like party propaganda. There was a hue and cry when he suspended a CDMO on the disciplinary ground only for it to appear later the doctor had been punished for being close to a Lotus Party functionary. After there were loud protests, the suspension was promptly withdrawn. There were also admirers in secret: the Chapuda party senior Stara Sibirapati wanted the bureaucrat to visit his district again since more development works could happen that way. But there was severe criticism from Lady Avayavita, Murugan’s bete-noire who had now joined the Upper Sultanate from Lotus Party claiming, “it was all hogwash and nothing new.”
What’s more, a wild canard swept through the Queendom that, the Queen for the lack of a worthy inheritor has made Murugan the chosen one. What else could perhaps explain her complete trust in him, letting him fly in a heli and even seen several notches higher than his superiors? This was naivete’ of the voters, but Quickgan Murugan now knew that in his decade-old remote-controlling, had made powerful foes in the Queendom and Sultanate who will hound him the day Queen abdicates. Even being the de-facto ruler he would not be safe. Could it be then that he was humouring the Queen for a constitutional post like Lokaukt to save him from Doomsday???
Whatever be the ground situation, the Queen seems very happy about the progress report of 5-T reaching her. She has since increased the number of deptts under its purview and sanctioned more budget to it. But as the hearsay grows louder and stronger at Ghania teashop, 5-T is nothing but FIFTH TERM.