The mobile shopkeeper at the cell phone shop nearly jumped out of his skin seeing the Aadhaar card in my hand, “Sir,” he whispered, “Put it back in your wallet!”

“Why?” I asked, “I’d like to link my Aadhaar with my cell phone number!”

“Ssshh!” whispered the same shopkeeper, looking at his other customers who were either buying SIM cards or buying new phones, “Sir, please don’t say that name too loudly here!”

“What name?” I asked, looking confused, as the shopkeeper pointed to my card, “Oh this, why not?”

“The Supreme Court has said it is not necessary!”

“That’s okay!” I said, “But I would like to link it!”

“Sir, but did you hear what the other lawyer said?”

“The Aadhaar lawyer?” I asked.

“No sir, the other lawyer opposing the Aadhaar lawyer! Okay let me put it in my own words sir, suppose you were to blow up a bridge or a train in the country….”

“Whoa! Whoa!” I shouted, “Do I look like a terrorist?”

“Sir, I only used the word suppose!“ said the shopkeeper as he found a readymade audience now of all the others in his shop, “So sir, you blow up the bridge and you run away and hide somewhere, and then after some days you want to purchase a TV!”

“Why should I purchase a TV after I’ve blown up a bridge?” I asked.

“In case you want to see whether the police are catching up with you or not!” explained a customer, as the others in the shop nodded in approval.The mobile shop owner looked gratefully at the customer and continued, “And when you purchase your TV you have to show your Aadhaar card, and within a day the police know where you are, your name, and wham-bamyou are behind bars!”

I looked at my Aadhaar card as the others in the shop looked at me, “Do you want to go to jail?” asked a college student as she looked at me sternly. “Do you know how terrible it is inside?”

“And terrorists, especially bridge blowers are treated mercilessly!” said the mobile shop owner as the others agreed. “Please keep your card sir!”

I took the card and put it back in my wallet and left the shop, I walked down to finish my next chore at the bank, the manager greeted me with a smile, then frowned as I pulled out my Aadhaar card, “Are you mad?” he whispered, “You want to link your card to your account?” I nodded. “If you don’t pay back a loan or you take letters of credit you don’t honour or are involved in a scam, do you know you may not be able to leave the country and land up in prison?” he asked angrily.

I left the bank, shivered as I stared at my Aadhaar card, and with tears of gratitude thanked all those who wanted to keep me out of jail..!

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