The Chief Chaddis smirked, stroking his little beard menacingly. This was the moment he and his fellow Chaddis had waited for and chewed so much cud over.
They had finally got their prey – the Black Sheep, now trapped in a corner from where he could not escape. The Black Sheep, popularly known as Beep Beep to his friends, had a long record of bleating his mind about everything around him – from politics to philosophy. He was quite fearless (very unusual for sheep) and didn’t bother to count how many sensitive hooves he stepped on.
Till recently Beep Beep had gotten away lightly for his acts of defiance and even insolence against those in power. But now, he had been pronounced guilty for saying the Supreme Goat, was corrupt and even worse, ‘was pulling wool over the eyes of the public’.
This was too much, casting aspersions on the integrity of the final interpreter of the law in the land! In the world of four-legged ruminants, pulling wool was almost as big an abuse as being called a grass-thief.
What Beep Beep had done was treason really, the Chaddis cried in unison. If they let him go this time there would be a revolt by the flock in the entire country. Imagine a nation full of discontent goats, cows, donkeys, sheep and rams – the holy cowboys running the country would be crushed under a billion stampeding feet.
The only institution that stood between the politicians and the public was the once hallowed (now hollowed) institution of the Supreme Goat. With their ornate robes, pompous airs, flowery pronouncements, they were able to create the grand illusion that attaining justice was possible for everyone. Attainable, of course, by waiting in a very long queue for years, follow lots of procedure, at great expense and after patiently bleating one’s case before the boring Chaddis.
And yet, there were many who believed this was still better than having an arbitrary bunch of religious fanatics issue edicts on what was legal and what was not. Not that the Supreme Goat and its stable of Chaddis were immune to such looney decrees. In fact, just a few months prior, they had decided – based on intense pressure from the rams – a contentious case to decide the exact spot where one of their ancestors, the Great Ram, was born.
Thanks to their ability to mobilise millions of rams on the streets, the case was decided – without any basis in law, evidence or reason –in favour of the rambunctious mob. And yet the Supreme Goat – even Beep Beep believed this – remained the last veneer of democratic process left amidst the ruins of all other national institutions.
For example, the country’s electoral system was a total sham, subverted by a combination of a biased election commission, rigged voting machines and false flag operations meant to influence voter emotions. This was buttressed by braying media networks shouting down every opinion that went against what the regime wanted the public to hear. And then there were the private armies and street thugs to terrorize anyone, who didn’t agree that their Supreme Leader – a big bull of the highest order – was the best thing that the country had produced since the invention of zero.
“We ruminants are product of the stable and believe in stability. You have attempted to destablize the nation through your wild and irresponsible statements” said the Chief Chaddis, glaring at Beep Beep, who stood defiantly, almost enjoying the trial.
“Your Honour, my intention was to insult you personally and not the institution itself. I sincerely regret not conveying that clearly” said Beep Beep, adding, ‘Your Honour, if you had only covered your face….”.
“Don’t use the term ‘honour’. We are not in the United States” said the Chief Chaddis testily, glaring at Beep.
“Oh! I completely forgot, all honour left this country a while ago” said Beep Beep, evoking some mirth in the galleries.
“Silence! Harbouring a sense of humour is also alien to our national tradition and not different from harbouring a criminal”, one of the Chaddis on the bench said sternly. “Have you ever come across a single funny episode in any of our national epics?”
“No, I have not your Lardship… may I call you Lardship, since you are so full of it? But, when the entire nation is ruled by a bad joke, why aren’t you taking suo moto cognizance?” said Beep Beep to more laughter in the audience.
“Enough! Let us proceed with the sentencing. We have heard enough anti-national talk for today” said the Chief Chaddis, dismissing everyone from the room so that all the Chaddis could decide the quantum of punishment for Beep Beep.
As everyone departed, the Chief Chaddis whispered to his fellow Chaddis, “Quick, light up the grass, I need to calm my nerves. Every time I see or hear this bleating heart liberal my blood pressure shoots up”.
“Good idea. Grass is what we ruminants survive on and it’s good for rumination too. A few puffs will help decide this vexing issue’, said the fellow Chaddi.
Very soon the room was filled with the pungent smell of the special green stuff, that had come straight from the Himalayan mountainside. The Chief Chaddis and his colleagues were on a roll, as they first rolled the joints, then their eyes and finally their bodies on the floor.
Not long after, the crowd waiting outside got wind of what was going on, as the fumes wafted down the corridors of the temple of justice. The small gaggle of Beep Beep supporters predictably smelt a conspiracy but a loud bleat of ‘Jai Ho!’ went up amidst the cheerleaders of the regime assembled there.
As per the traditional texts of the holy cowboys, this was a signal that the Lardships were directly in touch with the Divine Upstairs, which would tell them how to proceed further. If they obeyed they would be rewarded very well and if not, they would be thrown down a deep one. The slaughterhouse too was an ominous option for the most obstinate.
When the sentence was finally pronounced later that day, many were at a loss for words, but no one was really surprised. The Supreme Goat was just plain mutton after all and justice in the country was cooked.
Satya Sagar is a journalist and public health worker who can be reached at email@example.com