The famous Bollywood actor was in a foreign land, intently looking at a board in front of the Russian embassy. He was trying to figure out the script. The alphabets looked somewhat familiar but at the same time weird. And he wondered what the words on the giant board meant.
People went past him. But none of them recognized who he was. In this foreign state, this superstar was just another man, just another tourist from a third world country. The actor was loving this freedom. Unlike his country, there was no one in this nation, to pester him — neither the journalists nor the crazy paparazzi. He was delighted that he could finally roam free.
It’s tough to be a celebrity, he thought. Too much fame is bad. Thank God nobody knows me here.
Lost in thoughts the actor hadn’t noticed the Russian guard, who was walking towards him.
“What are you doing here, sir?” the suspicious guard shouted at the actor.
The celebrity was taken aback. “Me? Are you talking to me?” he asked.
“Yes, sir.” The guard stopped, for he was quite close to his subject now. “May I know why you are staring at the building?” he asked.
“Oh. It’s nothing.” The actor chuckled. “I was trying to figure out the script.”
“Which country are you from, sir?” the stern guard queried in a grave voice.
“May I see your passport?”
Although reluctant, the actor handed the security personnel his passport. With a face still sombre, the guard went through the small booklet. He looked at the photo on the document and then at the celebrity’s face. A couple of seconds later, he handed over the passport to the actor.
“You need to come with me,” said the guard. “We will be needing a photocopy of your passport.”
“But why?” the superstar protested. “What have I done?”
“Nothing, sir. Just a standard precautionary measure.”
The actor had had enough. Signs of exasperation appeared on his face.
Me? he thought. He is ordering me?
“Do you know who I am?” the actor bellowed, at last. “Do you know who I am?” he repeated.
The young achiever, whose name was included in the Forbes list of 30 Under 30, was standing in a queue, outside the club with his date. It was Saturday. A much-needed relief from the just passed hectic weekdays. The CEO laughed, and so did his new girlfriend. Club 14 was the best club in the city, after all. It was a place which was much sought after by couples during the weekends. And there they were, the two of them, waiting to make the most out of the time.
“Have you read 1984?” the CEO asked all of a sudden. “The famous dystopian novel by George Orwell?”
He wanted to impress the woman. Yes, she was impressed by his money, success, and by his social status. But she also needed to know that he was an intellectual. A thinking man.
“Yeah, I have heard a lot about it,” she responded.
“What a fantastic book,” the young CEO exclaimed. “I finished it just yesterday. Orwell is a master storyteller. A visionary, in fact.”
“Yes, journalists seem to love him. His name is everywhere. Thanks to online news, websites and articles.”
“That’s because the world, the politics of today, seem like an extension of his story.”
“Yeah.” Nodded the young lady. “We are living in Orwellian times, they say.”
The young man realized that there was no point continuing the discussion. The girl was well read and exceptionally smart. Talking further about Orwell would only result in harm, he thought. So he decided to change the topic of conversation.
“You know we could have partied at my mansion,” he said. “Or on my new yacht. But partying with normal middle-class people is a different fun, altogether. It’s good to be rich, but we must not forget our roots.”
“Aye-aye.” The girl teased him with a salute.
The queue moved at a snail’s speed. Nevertheless, the young man of importance didn’t crib or fret. Yes, it had been a long time. Waiting like an ordinary man outside the club. But he must show to this girl that he is a humble person, he thought.
At last, the couple stood in front, waiting for their turn. But to their horror, the bouncer placed the belt barrier before the door.
“Sorry, we are jam-packed,” he announced. “You have to wait.”
The people in queue roared loudly in protest.
This is bad, the young CEO reflected. What an impression would it make?
“What?” he yelled at the muscular man. “Do you know for how long we have been waiting?”
“I know, sir,” the bouncer defended himself. “I apologize,” he said making a sorry face. “The orders came from above. I can’t help it.”
“Do you know who I am?” the exasperated CEO yelled. “Do you know who I am?” he echoed.
It had been fifteen minutes when the politician’s plane had landed on the runway of the small airport of that little town. He was there in order to campaign for a woman candidate, who was representing his party in the upcoming elections. As he descended the staircase, he waved his hand and reciprocated the greetings of his fellow party members, who had come to receive him. One minute later, he sat in the bulletproof car that was meant just for him. The car drove off and ten other cars escorted that bulletproof vehicle. Five cars in front and five cars behind. There was no way the security of this important man could be breached.
The cars sped on the empty roads. There was no one, no other vehicle. Which was, of course, an everyday affair, whenever some VIP arrived in that small town. The police always harassed the common man and blocked and diverted the traffic.
Inside the car, a party member accompanied the politician, and discussed with him the tactics, the party was pursuing for the upcoming elections.
“Sir, our recent strategy of portraying you as a common man has worked wonders.”
“Yes, sir.” The minion shook his head in agreement. “People are able to relate to you. A poor man rising to such heights by his sheer willpower, work, and devotion.”
“We have to continue along the same path. The approval ratings are at an all-time high. Thanks to your intense and moving speeches, we have captured the imagination of the poor folk.
The politician clapped with joy. “Keep me informed of every new development,” he ordered.
“Definitely, sir.” Nodded the unctuous man.
All of a sudden the cars came to a screeching halt.
“What is it?” the politician asked. “Why we have stopped in the middle of nowhere?”
The party member got out of the car. “I’ll check it out,” he assured.
Two minutes later, he returned.
“What is it?” the politician asked again.
“A cop has stopped our motorcade.”
The leader rolled down the car window. “Why?” he grimaced.
“He is letting the firefighting engines through, first. A building not far from here is ablaze.”
“How could he?”
“I know, sir. We tried reasoning with him, but he is adamant.”
“Note down his name! Does he not know who I am?”
Up in the sky, a giant ball of fire could be seen tearing through space and approaching the pale blue sphere known as Earth. The actor, the young CEO, the politician, and the rest of the people looked at the firmament with their mouths agape. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing. They couldn’t believe that it was their last day. And in that instant, though dumbstruck and stupefied, they all realized who they really were.