were brought to the tap tank at the corner of the park just as the gray light of dawn was being punctured by the first red glow of the morning. The daily washing of the beasts had to be gone through with, no matter what the day. On this day white-dhotied men seemed to be moving in even larger numbers than usual, their scarves and towels about their shoulders like flags of the Order of the Bath, indicating a ritual celebrated every morning about this time, Lines of shrouded sleeping bodies on the sidewalks and in each doorway began to come to life. The sleep of the night was over, and the movement of the day had started,
The sidewalk population of Calcutta was now in motion the crowded-in dwellers in tenements called charuls had begun to stretch, scratch themselves, and clean their teeth by rubbing them with sticks. There was no talking, little sound except the hacking and spitting that inaugurates the day, as if the night had to be cleared from the throat where it had stuck in the rough misty coolness of the morning, Little sound could be heard except the distant temple bells ringing to awaken the gods and the occasional morning song of some worshiper on his way to do puja by offering milk or sweets to the gods. Even the pi-dogs, lean and bony, straggly mongrels that they were had not yet mustered up energy to fight, as if waiting for clearer light to detect the decaying garbage or leaves dropped by the late-night walker after he had eaten his khana.
Half-naked bodies were huddled together at the same tap with the buffaloes. As with one hand, each splashed water again and again over his glistening body, the other hand embarrassingly pulled free the thin cotton loincloth that stuck to the hips. This produced a rhythmic movement, a kind of dance by the men at the small tank.

Calcutta was waking up to election day, not just any election day, but the first election day of a free country. The washing men at the tap would vote as free men, and the owners of buffaloes might even take advantage of the franchise to express the wish of all water buffaloes and their owners more taps and more tanks for bathing and washing.

The night before, the men who carried the red flags had promised this, this, and much more at a meeting on Dharamtala Street. The meeting had been held in the park that the British had named Wellington Square. The men had said that a vote for the Party would bring a place to live, more room, houses, buildings, and roofs over their heads. A vote for the Party would mean food, enough to sustain the body, not just enough to keep it alive. A vote for change would mean a job for every man. The millions would be housed, clothed, fed, given jobs, and, most important of all, given something to live for, to beget and raise still more children who would be guaranteed a chance to live in the free world of a workers' paradise.

This was no distant dream. Elect the candidate for the party and the day after the election would bring a new dawn. Miraculously taps would pour forth their water, houses would be provided to live in, and there would be work for every man. "The day of oppression, Comrades, is over," the speakers had shouted. "The day of the Western capitalist exploiter is past." The listeners had been told that the day of the imperialistic government extending the right hand to the Western Bloc and the left to the Eastern Bloc was gone. The day after tomorrow, the day after the election would be the new day.

Congress as a governing body had failed, the Communists claimed again and again. After four years of feeble effort, the conditions under which more than three hundred million people lived had not been changed. Gandhi's India was the victim of exploitation by the native imperialists- the Tatas, the Carnegie of India, and the wealthy Birlas. "Arise, Comrades, throw off the yoke of oppression," the speakers in the park had said. "The day of deliverance is at hand, in your hand, in the ballot that you will put in the box at the polling booth. You can vote for your future, it is yours to choose. The day after tomorrow will be different!"

Like a Gatling gun, the staccato sounds of the loudspeaker had filled the park. The blaring noise of lorries, some filled with Congress Party followers and others with the henchmen of independent parties, had not drowned out the blatant promises. They came like shots fired against the vulnerable body politic of the nation.

The Revolution was here! "Comrades, arise!" As simple as that! Put the ballot in the right box, Pandora's box, and make a wish, and it would happen like magic. Magic is like the marvelous effect of the compound of rubies, pearls, and diamonds for brain troubles and rejuvenations advertised in the papers. The formula could be bought at a price. It was guaranteed to bring faith and hope to ten thousand million souls, worshipers of promises and believers in ap- peasement for both gods and men, whose food more often than not was grass.

On this momentous morning, the figure of an eighteen-year-old boy became rigid as he looked from the corner to the center of the park. He put his clean dhoti around his apron-fashion, guaranteeing in one gesture the natural modesty that all Indians feel. His wet loincloth slipped to the street. There before him were the park, the poles where the floodlights had been, the empty platform where the speaker had stood and on which afterward some fifty home- less bodies had slept to dream of the coming day. Day after tomorrow! Today, the day on which he was bathing, was the tomorrow-election day, the day of decision.

Nihar rubbed his thin legs harder, splashed more water on his lean body, and wrapped a scarf around his abundant black hair, which had fallen wet and greasy onto his face as he stooped to rub his feet. The park had become the place of promises, promises of reform by the Congress Party, of revolutionary change by the Communists.

Independence was to have brought Utopia. Yet the boy knew that Utopia had not come with independence. The speakers at school prize-distribution days and college con- vocations had all spoken of social responsibility, of the concern of the individual for his state, and of personal responsibility in a democracy. Democracy, the Welfare State had been the big words, the mighty words with which to fashion dreams. Yet they remained words, words

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