Happy Ending

“So finally this is the happy ending we were looking for!” said Swami, in an especially exuberant mood today, as we met for coffee this weekend. Swami’s smile knew no bounds today. “I wonder what took them so long!” he exclaimed.

My broker friend, Jigneshbhai, obviously realized that the reason for Swami’s impish glee was that the Rajya Sabha had finally cleared the constitutional amendment needed to bring in the ‘one country, one tax’ GST regime, and that too unanimously.

And today, even my broker friend, was happy. “Indeed it is a momentous step, a happy one” he remarked making Swami smile. “Politics was why it took so long” he added.

Swami looked at me almost as if to say that, for once, your broker friend has agreed with me. And he seemed to agree with Jigneshbhai too. But today Swami was in a happy, almost filmy, mood.

“You are right. But all sides did ‘Give Some Take Some’ I guess” Swami said, coming up with a new full form of GST.

“But you have to give it to our PM. Kabhi kabhi jeetne ke liye kuch haarna bhi padta hai. Aur haarkar jeetne waale ko baazigar kehte hai!” Swami was in a truly jubilant mood today, which had turned filmy for some reason.

Jigneshbhai gave a surprised smile on hearing the dialogue from Swami.

“But it is the start, not the end,” he proclaimed. “It is not the happy ending, it is the muhurat shot!”

Even my broker friend wasn’t to be left behind in this trading of filmy dialogues today. “The producers and the cast are all set, but the entire film has to be shot still.” They were now speaking only in filmy metaphors.

But he was right, I thought. I had read in the papers that this thing they had done in parliament of clearing a constitutional amendment was only an enabling start.

The states had to now bring their own GST law, and at least 15 states needed to pass it. And then separate GST bills for central and state taxes had to be brought back to parliament, and finally a GST council of finance ministers had to set the tax rate. All this just to get the law started on paper.

Later of course, the bureaucracy – also consisting of former, presumably disgruntled, central excise, octroi and state tax departments, who would then have nothing to do and little avenue for under the table money – had to implement it with utmost sincerity – using a new IT system that was being built.

When all of this is done, it would probably be a happy ending.

But Swami had the habit of celebrating early. And he wasn’t ready to take doses of my broker friend’s realism today.

“So are you saying this is not going to happen?” he questioned, now with the smile gone away.

“Chances are bright that the film will be completed” Jigneshbhai remarked, still in filmy-speak. “But we will have to wait for that to see if it is a happy ending. You know how various stars develop tantrums or sometimes the producer runs out of money!” My broker friend seemed to have taken the filmy thing really seriously today.

But Swami had already declared it – ‘The GST film’ so to speak – a hit. So he had a frown on his face on hearing this from Jigneshbhai. But he was not the one whose enthusiasm could be cowed down today.

Kehte hain agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaho toh poori kayanath use tumse milane ki koshish me lag jaati hai” he finally remarked continuing his SRK dialogue sessions. “Everyone wants this so badly now, that it is going to happen. So don’t worry, this will be done!” Swami continued with a splendid show of confidence.

Well, it was true that there was reason to think of the possibilities of the future, given the leap of faith that our politicians seemed to have taken two days back. But it was equally true that, with time, those tenuous equations change, and there could be obstacles that could put GST on the back-burner again.

So while I was thinking about what was right – Swami’s unbridled happiness, or my broker friend’s cautious hope – the wealthy old man in the sprawling bungalow, who always spoke cryptically walked up to our table.

It looked like the filmy virus of our conversations that he had been listening to, had caught him as well, as he left us wondering with a dialogue of his own.

“Hamari filmon ki tarah hamaari zindagi mein bhi, end tak sab kuch theek hi ho jaata hai.. Happies Ending.. Aur agar theek na ho toh woh the end nahi..Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!”

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