When might is right, or rather left

A tale of two bars

It was a college typical of Kerala, the first fully literate state in India (where the Leftist Marxist Party is currently in power). Students here had strong points of view, which inevitably meant belonging to some political party in this highly politicised state.

Therein lay the danger. Because being literate didn’t mean the people of Kerala were more broad-minded. They were just more knowledgeable about their political philosophies, and infinitely more intolerant of anyone who didn’t follow their beliefs.

Everything was volatile in the college campus, just as it was outside in real life, with violence always lurking barely below the surface, waiting to emerge at the flick of a finger. And the herd mentality ruled. No question of one-on-one battles. It was more likely to be ten-on-one.

In other words, might was right.

Not belonging to a political party at college made one easy to be picked on. But there were still a good many students who wanted nothing to do with politics, and just wanted to have a good time.

One of these was the college karate enthusiast. He stayed away from the political groups, and would instead spend long hours, every day after classes, practising his karate. Like many of the students at the college, he stayed in the campus in the massive hostel.

As part of his strength training exercises, the kid had suspended a iron crowbar across the corridor outside his room where he could perform pull-ups and other gymnastics exercises to supplement his karate exercises. This had been noticed by the leftist student political group, and a couple of days later, they quietly appropriated the bar.

Being a hostel, everyone knew who had taken bar. The Left is a powerful political party in Kerala with a predilection for violence against anyone crossing their part, and they happened to be the ruling party in the state at the moment. Their student wing in the college was a fledgling with just a few students, but there was no way a student without any political allegiance could go up against them.

In a way, it was a perfect reflection of the actual world outside the campus in Kerala.

The kid ignored the missing bar, found himself a goal post to swing from, and the incident was forgotten.

Time passed and it was time for the college festival of art and drama. Officially, booze was prohibited on the campus, but that didn’t stop some enterprising students from organising a bar in one of the hostel rooms. Soon there were long queues in front of the bar, the liquor began flowing, and festivities started in in earnest.

However the leftist party’s scout sniffed a rat, and alerted his leader, who took it upon himself to officiously inform the college principal.

A raid quickly followed, and the bar was shut down. The principal had to make an example, and chose the inmates of the hostel room where the bar was hosted. They were suspended from the college, and would end up losing an academic year. One of these students had ties to a rival political party, and now there was bad blood within the campus.

A few days later, accusations were made, words were exchanged, and fists began flying. Soon there were mini battles happening all over the campus.

It was then that the karate kid came across the Leftist Party student leader lurking around the hostel corridors with a lead pipe in his hand. He had come off the worse in a previous encounter, and seemed to have armed himself this time around. But carrying such a weapon was likely to lead someone getting seriously hurt.

So the karate kid quickly wrestled the bar out of the leader’s hand, saying, “You’d better leave before they catch you.”

The leader protested, “Why are you doing this? I have never harmed you.”

The karate kid asked, “What about the bar?”

The leader looked nonplussed, “But you don’t even drink.”

As the karate kid walked away, he replied, “I wasn’t talking about that bar.”

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