The pandemic looming over, Quickgun Murugan wanted to turn crisis into an opportunity to boost the Queen’s popularity. With claims of Tongualee’s corporate experience he chose the later as the Crisis Spokesman. Tongualee was only glad to grab the offer with both hands, but that it will be a skyrocketing success even he didn’t imagine in his wildest dreams.
Now the Queen has a fetish, and Quickgun Murugan keeps adding fuel to this fire. For all those in the know, the Queen’s penchant for being FIRST in the land is well known. So even to counter Corona, even before the Sultanate could do so, the Queen closed most cities and towns, school and colleges, shops and markets with a curfew-like lockdown telling people to stay home to beat the deadly pandemic. The Queen had been hailed as the great warrior, the mighty saviour of her subjects during many natural disasters—supercyclones, mega floods and so on. So, she seemed equally confident of her team of commanders relinquishing the pandemic again.
With Tongualee’s Golden Tongue, the queen tried to send out messages to her populace about her apparently strict action. The suave Tongualee left no stone unturned to capitalize on this Godsent chance and tried to address the press every afternoon with half an hour of pep-talk about what the Queen was doing to fight this public enemy no. 1. Now coming from a career of corporate, he had ample amounts of smooth and glib talk which he leveraged to the max.
The first few days went very nicely indeed. The subjects, many of which were probably experiencing such prolonged lockdowns for the first time ever, pounced at the juicy information bits thrown about by Tongualee. He was a respected professional, and was fluent in the local tongue, something which even the Queen, after long years on the throne, not very fluid with. And the Queen’s propaganda machinery was prompt enough to broadcast Tongualee’s speeches on all sorts of media.
Tongualee knew his terrain well. He understood the subjects and tried to bring in local context as much as possible. So, the first few days he spoke about how the lockdowns were even seen in local temple rituals, about the quiet village life of subjects, about their peace loving, law abiding manner and so on. People were all praise for his speeches form the very first few days. Very soon there were whispering demands from the public that he should be made the next Regent.
Quickgun Murugan, sharp as ever, noticed the development and Tongualee was immediately ordered to dilute his speeches down. Often sharing the dais with some other minion or health expert to cut back his screen time. But his self-styled mannerisms to assume guardianship in all matters of health & safety soon annoyed the media persons who thought of it as official meddling. No wonder there were no briefings to media one to one from then on, it was all shared on official channels in the name of public safety. Nobody questions the Queen, alright?
From week to week the well-oiled propaganda machinery ran full-scale to instill the gravity and urgency of situation into the public’s mind. A curfew was in place, police were sent regularly to shut down tea and Guthka shops (including Ghania’s)…in their overzealousness police beat up errant customers of these shops with lathis. Sad to say, one constable’s lathis also hit my waist. I was very sore for days. Markets were shut down citing distancing causing untold misery to vendors/customers alike. The full might of the Queen’s forces were in display in the name of Corona management.
And the guidelines…they seemed to be shifting, from one week to another. While the Govt claimed to track everyone coming in via flights, it skipped those by trains and buses…and a month afterwards, said the later would be included too. There were no test kits available in large no.s, but the minions made the public hoodwinked that they are doing a great service by just pushing returnees to state under quarantine. For about a month, they tried to keep the affected numbers in lower two digits by hook, book or crook. Even if one died of Corona, they cited some past ailment to refuse to add to their tally.
Meanwhile, Quickgun Murugan got super busy flying across the state in Queen’s chopper and signing deals with private hospitals to open Corona hospitals with state partnership. Naysayers accused of huge kickbacks in the deals, but who cares as long as they were signed quickly and in supreme public interest?
(TO CONCLUDE NEXT WEEK)