It all began rather innocently enough – the Adhaar, a new identity card. The Man from Madras Musings like everyone else, went, stood in queues, got himself photographed, had his fingerprints read and came away with a sense of quiet satisfaction. And then a few weeks later the card itself came, all shining and bright, with a photo of MMM looking like one of those people whose pictures you see at police stations and areas where the public congregate, with a WANTED or MISSING legend attached. MMM then filed it away and forgot all about it.

And then it began – the tortuous process of linking this Adhaar to just about everything. The gas registration was the first off the mark and MMM had his card linked, feeling all the while that he was contributing to nation-building. He began receiving calls asking him to surrender his gas subsidy and he did it willingly. After a few weeks came a call that he had to link his bank account(s) to the same Adhaar card. MMM did that too, though it must be admitted not so willingly, for the very thought of establishing contact with a bank fills MMM with a nameless horror. They have a tendency of coming right back at you with forms that you need to fill in and then sign in triplicate, apart from affixing yet another signature across your photograph. Somehow this last never works for MMM, the ink dries up the moment it touches the photo and all he gets is a scratch. But the linking did eventually go through.

Thereafter came calls from Mutual Funds – asking for MMM to link his Adhaar card to them, failing which, though it was not exactly specified, all hell would break loose. And so MMM obediently did the same. Now the cell phone company has woken up and is demanding the linking of MMM’s number to the Adhaar card.

MMM has now begun to live in daily terror of further demands for the linking of Adhaar. Will it become necessary to use the Adhaar to open the front door at chez MMM? What if the lights and fans do not switch on without the waving of the Adhaar in front of them? And from there to water closets demanding the flashing of the Adhaar may be but the next step.

Strangely, for a card that is to be perpetually in use, it is physically quite flimsy. -Compared to the hard and laminated driving licence and the initially laminated but now hard PAN card, the Adhaar is rather reedy. And because it has to be carried about on your person all the time, what with it being asked for at all kinds of places, it is unlikely to last long. MMM’s card is already frayed at the edges and -because it is also quite crinkled, MMM’s face as -depicted on it now has a rather debauched look about it. The worry as of now is how to make the card last as long as MMM does.

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