The thing about statues is that they command attention, instantly. One may go anywhere and if confronted with one, usually stops to stare at it. And if one is a history buff, then one may read with great delight the plaque that is often affixed to the statue.
What a thrill it gives when one finds that a particular statue dates back a hundred years or it was built to commemorate a certain historical event.
At the Fort Museum in Chennai, there is a life-size statue of Lord Cornwallis with the scene of Tipu Sultan’s sons being taken away as hostages by the British, depicted below. Or, like how in one of R K Narayan’s stories, a lowly villager makes a tidy sum after having mistakenly ‘sold’ a statue to a foreigner.
During a visit to Amsterdam two decades back, I remember being tickled pink by the Statue-of-No-liberty, depicting an office-goer with a briefcase in one hand and a flame held aloft in the other. Another instant recall is Brazil’s ‘Christ the Redeemer’.
Former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and a self-professed champion of Dalits, Mayawati’s statues dot the state. The current government’s tribute to the ‘Iron Man’ of India is no less an accomplishment.
But these are lofty tales. Has anyone heard of a statue of a postman? But the khaki-clad, satchel-carrying dispenser of communication was actually awarded a statue. The postal employees and people of Belgaum joined hands to erect a postman’s statue, which was inaugurated two months back. The idea for the same was not born in the rarefied environs of some highly-placed bureaucrat, but rather as a result of casual banter between a few colleagues working in the Belgaum GPO. One among them said he wanted to give something back to the department. What a noble thought! Soon, a local idol maker was given the task of designing and building the statue.
But, apparently, this is not the first and the only ode to the humble postman. Anche Basappa’s (Postman Basappa) statue lies in front of KARP Mounted Police Headquarters in Mysuru and is over a 100 years old. He apparently ran from place to place delivering mails back then. No wonder he was accorded a statue!