In June 2022, I unwillingly and with deep resentment met a villain I had never given much thought to.
Summers and transformers are not the best of friends. Summer intoxicates the transformers and changes them into antagonists, the merciless decepticons. I pointedly accuse the electric power transformers, staring wickedly at their human prey in gullies. In my country, the power transformers that manipulate the flow of electric current from one circuit to another (as per Wikipedia) have so much accessibility that they mix openly with the populace from a four-legged, sometimes even a two-legged iron structure painted black. From what I have seen, they manipulate much more than just the flow of electricity. You will find them wielding devastating powers. The anarchists!
It takes them only seconds to turn life into black and blue! First, it turns them into a bright burning orange, then shades of red, yellow, crimson, orange, and so on. Finally, a mass of charred black flesh that once used to be a beautiful young girl is what remains. I do not have the guts to exaggerate a death, bearing testimony to the hideous deeds of transformers.
The girl with large kohl-lined eyes seldom accompanied her mother to work. The mother never let her do chores at any house where she worked. She allowed her to use her hard-earned money for tailoring and beautician courses. That fateful day, the girl decided to come to my home with her mother and idled outside.
After leaving in the afternoon, the mother stepped outside the colony’s iron gate towards the grazing cows. The child walked ahead. The mother called out to her to wait, and she stopped. Merely a distance of hundred steps lay between them! The girl, by this time, was right under the transformer, devoid of a boundary that could keep pedestrians at bay. It had no sand beneath, installed shamelessly naked and close to civilisation.
On this sweltering day, the road was deserted. The transformer caved in and burst. A few seconds were enough for it to devour the little girl! The electric current caught her unawares as it erupted in a heated fury. She stood rooted like a stone, hands folded under the open transformer. Boiling oil (I shivered for several nights when told the degrees) ran onto her head and face, eyes, shoulders, chest, legs, and toes. The mother looked up and rushed towards the daughter but was pushed away by the fire blazing around and the electric shock. Her screams went unheard in the peak of summer as the patch had no houses or shops, and no one passed by for what must have been like ages for the two.
Finally, when the transformer lets go of its poor victim, the girl fell to the ground, calling out to her mother, “Water! water!” A few people stopped by and wrapped what was left of the body in clothes. She was carried to hospital. In place of the kohl-lined eyes were gaping holes. She died late that night, her last cry still, “Water! Ma, water!” But where to pour water into? Such was the state.
The mother stopped working since then. She received compensation, I am told, and while visiting us sometimes, she chokes, “I wish she hadn’t followed me that day to work.” “Yes,” I say, “or perhaps you had finished and left a few minutes earlier… or later. Possibly she would be alive.”
The transformer stories cannot end like this. They have formed an army of lakhs throughout the country, basking proudly at the busiest roads, intersections, parking spaces, neighbourhoods, schools, malls, and theatres. You can also find them near parks, ATMs, food trucks, and bus stops like ornaments to the most crowded gullies of our land that now boast a vast network of well-maintained highways, mighty world-class airports, and bullet trains in the pipeline. But in stark contrast, we have deadly transformers, loose dangling wires, uncovered drains, open wells, and hazardous chemicals on the loose.
In this adorable country that boasts of the world’s humblest lessons on non-violence and love, the vanity of the transformers is abominable. I look forward to them being safely tucked away from sight. If this makes you look down upon my impracticality and insanity, perhaps you can recommend that they be entrusted to scrutiny and restricted by walls. Keep a safe distance till then, for the intense summer heat of my country shall activate the evil within this passive manipulator of electric currents.