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Community Service

-One Future Friday in New Delhi

He was grumbling as he swept the floor 
of the Press Club of India’s bar. From where 
I sat, he looked vaguely and unpleasantly familiar, 
like a villain in an old TV serial, or a character 
from a childhood nightmare. I didn’t pay 
him much mind because the TV in the corner 
had started playing a story about next week’s 
big state visit. I was just a literary freelancer, 
but even I could tell this was important because 
all the political reporters had stopped drinking 
and were taking notes. Apparently, Greta 
Thunberg would be hosted by PM Zargar, 
along with Umar Khalid, Chandra Shekhar 
Azad and Devangana Kalita. They’d be taking 
the cycle path that ran along the newly cleaned 
Yamuna all the way to the Okhla Bird Sanctuary,
where the main ceremonies would happen. The 
political reporters started making calls right away—
most of them began with, ‘Hey, um, do you have 
a cycle I could borrow?’

I noticed the sweeper was now gently 
banging his head against a wall in the corner. 
I got a little worried, so I asked my friend
if we should do something about it.
‘Ah, you didn’t recognize him? That’s 
just Amit Shah—he’ll be fine. 
Of course he hates working here, 
but he knows better than most,
it sure beats Tihar Jail.’
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