By Shevlin Sebastian
Whenever I went to the vegetable market at Palarivattom in Kochi, I would go past a pothole.
One day it said, "Should you avoid potholes all the time?"
"My scooter is new," I said, as I nearly fell off my two-wheeler in shock to see a talking pothole. "So, I have to be careful."
"Sometimes, a jerk is good for your back and for your life," it said.
"Very true indeed, but not for my scooter," I said.
The pothole smiled and said, "My name is Prince." Then he told me the story behind its name. Every year, there was a competition among potholes in Kochi about which would be the deepest and the largest. The competition, judged by three retired potholes, always ended on October 31, after the monsoon season was over.
”There was a pothole on M.G. Road, opposite the Formost shop, which was bigger than me,” said Prince. “So, that pothole has been crowned king, but, as the runner-up, I get to be called Prince."
"Prince Charming, indeed!" I said. But I immediately noticed that there were some pointed stones on the rim of the pothole.
"You have some rough edges," I said.
Prince laughed and said, "Potholes are like people. Those who have rough edges, are warm inside, while those who show outwardly that they are warm, are cold inside."
"Very interesting,” I said. “Tell me more."
"Contractor Mad Man Mani gave me a box of chocolate gravel to encourage me to become bigger and deeper,” said Prince. “I asked him for a P(othole)-Pod, so that I could listen to some good music, but he said it was very expensive."
"It seems to me that in India nobody is exempt from being bribed," I said.
Prince laughed and said, "The whole system is corrupt, so, what can an individual pothole like me do? I am helpless."
"You are helpless now, later you will say you are hapless and the situation in the country will become hopeless," I said.
"Ha, ha," said Prince.
I looked at my watch and said, "Goodbye, I have to go."
My busy life went on. But, whenever I went to Palarivattom, I would stop and have a chat with Prince.
But, last Monday, I got a shock. The pothole had vanished under a covering of tar and gravel. I knocked on the tar, and shouted, "Prince, are you there?"
"Yes!" said a voice, which seemed to come from far away.
"What happened?" I said.
"Now that the rainy season is over, the potholes are being filled up," Prince said. "I will be resting for six months. Contractor Mani has promised me the road will break up in June."
"Does he keep his word?” I asked.
“Always,” said Prince. “The engineers and the supervisors of the Cochin Corporation are happy with Mani because he delivers a broken road on schedule.”
“So, I will see you in June, same time, same hole," I said. "In the meantime, best wishes for a Happy New Year!"
"Same to you and three cheers!" said Prince.
(Permission to reproduce this article has to be obtained from The New Indian Express, Kochi)