Sunday, August 30, 2009
While returning home, I was thinking about Fakir. My friend Fakir - whose corpse was burning behind at the crematorium. For those with raising eyebrows; Fakir was Muslim but he preferred fire to soil. To him there was no difference between Lord Shiva and Allah.
Fakir happened to be a very simple guy. Very simple, indeed. As his name suggests, the guy never had any greed whatsoever for any earthly possession. It was always music and writing that would tug at his heartstrings.
My association with Fakir was for long. Pretty long. If I say correctly, it was for no fewer than 37 years. Yes, we were kind of born together.
Fakir lost his mother quite early. Then his father. He made himself almost on his own. The only asset my dead friend inherited from his departed parents was a heart – that was simply matchless, priceless and very true, for sure.
Unfortunate, that the fire in the pyre won’t spare this heart unlike his naval.
Honestly, I have never seen anyone like Fakir – who just used to believe in the power of love and honesty.
Fakir was a very good singer in fact. And that was the quality, which attracted and then attached Rani to him.
The two fell in love in a flash, crossing each other’s path for the first time in life. Of course, there were love and passion between them, so was their conflict of education, upbringing and culture. The formation of their respective beliefs, principles and morals was not in conjunction at all to say the least.
But they were in love. Madly. (Or should I say badly and sadly, as Fakir is no more.)
The drift between Rani and Fakir started when Fakir visited Rani’s place to meet her parents. Rani’s family members, precisely her mother, made sure that Fakir got humiliated, hassled and heckled by them like anything.
Why so? Because Rani’s parents were moneyed unlike Fakir – to whom money never counted.
From there, many dramas took the stage one after another at Rani’s place, so that Rani dumped Fakir.
Many tags such as Satan, Hypnotizer, Urchin, and the like were assigned to Fakir as the easy and prompt descriptors of him. The poor guy never knew or understood what his fault was.
He kept asking Rani about it. He cried. He lost his temper on this issue. He lost his sleep. He almost lost himself.
Still, Rani said nothing.
Days were flying off. There were ups and downs in their relationship. However, they managed to cling onto the side of their rocking boat in order to stay together in the sea of their emotions that had become quite turbulent by then.
Intelligent Fakir asked Rani to help herself slip into the life-jacket and leave him. For, the guy realized Rani was actually keener to harbor inside a safe cocoon than fighting against the odd tides by being beside Fakir.
But, Rani said nothing.
Instead, Rani hanged around. She insisted they tied up the knot in a hurry. She literally forced Fakir to perform the event. In the midst of a high current situation, their marriage was solemnized.
Immediately after the wedding, Rani went back to her place for a few days leaving behind a promise that she would come back. Soon.
Fakir found another job to get himself indulged in. That was counting days for Rani’s arrival.
Fakir was happy. Very happy. He thought, honestly, that Rani also turned happy as a result of their marriage. Thus, to add respect, amplification and shine to their happiness, Fakir began to acknowledge Rani as his wife. In private as well as in public.
And to share his happiness with all and sundry, he never felt like taking any permission from his wife Rani.
So, Rani said nothing.
On the contrary, the poor chap was accused of bringing insult and disrespect to Rani because Fakir told and exposed the truth to the world that Rani became his wife.
Fakir lost his speech. His eyes went blurred. His heart was almost chocked. And he didn’t know what to do next. The guy fell sick. Seriously.
He kept trying to reach Rani. Everyday, in every second.
Though, Rani said nothing.
After that episode, suddenly, two guys from Rani’s place came to Fakir. One of them literally challenged Fakir by saying what the hell Fakir could do in case Rani didn’t turn up.
Fakir did nothing but gave the petty person a walkover with a plate of sweets.
Following their visit an eye-wash reception was arranged to accept Fakir as a mere compromise, as if thrown upon Rani and her RICH family. To prove this point and instill more pain into Fakir’s injury, Rani’s father made sure that Fakir’s late mother’s name got dropped off the invitation card.
Fakir got upset. Terribly upset. He asked for a proper clarification from Rani.
Yet, Rani said nothing.
Rani’s family reached at Fakir’s city to organize the party. As planned, they visited Fakir’s siblings just a day before the event. And pursuing her ulterior motive, Rani’s mother left no stone unturned to perform a well calculated rudali-show or sobbing drama to express her helplessness on conceding Fakir as Rani’s husband.
Because she knew it for a fact, when Fakir would come back home and listen to it, he would blow off his mind’s fuse. And if it happened, she had a chance to call off the party by taking Rani in her confidence holding Fakir responsible for every mess.
Clever Fakir got it very clear. So, quite willingly he walked into their well laid out trap. He reacted strongly and vehemently to the ongoing fracas – as brought to him by Rani and her family and relatives.
As expected, they latched onto this provided spark of Fakir. A big fire ball was created by blowing off naked lies, manipulated stories and fabricated tales simply out of proportion, in tandem with Fakir’s residual wrath and frustration
The reception got cancelled.
And, Rani said nothing.
She along with her family went back home. Prior to that, she asserted that she was INSECURE with her husband Fakir.
Got to be! If a husband always wants his wife beside him how can a wife be secure?! LOL.
A few days were spent.
Then a letter of false allegation greeted Fakir. He was charged of executing unbearable mental and physical torture on Rani. He was blamed to bring insult and disrespect to Rani’s parents and family members and relatives.
This letter entailed the Petition for dissolution of their marriage on mutual consent.
Each paper was duly signed by Rani.
Nevertheless, Rani said nothing.
Fakir signed on the papers. Arranged an advocate for Rani. And gave the green signal for the legal proceedings.
Rani was elated. So were her family members and all other relatives. Seeing them happy Fakir also felt good. Quite relieved.
To celebrate his peace, he called me up. I went to his place. We talked. We sang. We boozed. We enjoyed, together. Whole night.
At dawn Fakir had to catch some sleep. So had I.
We slept. After a few hours I woke up. But Fakir kept sleeping…
In the evening the hearse car came.
The pyre was all set to welcome my friend Fakir.
I said, “Goodbye!”
Rani said nothing.
After all, Fakir too said nothing.
The moral of the story is: "Say nothing to feign humble and live long!"
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Yesterday, when I walked off Sarda Plywood’s office at Park Street, it was 3.30 PM, sharp. Immediately, I hailed a cab and the cabby obliged. I had to reach Gariahat, soon. So, without wasting a split second, I got settled (you may read nestled) inside the vehicle.
Then only I noticed the cabby. The guy was in his early 50s, I guessed. Slender. Having grey hair. And also realized, in a short while, that he was on a higher plank too.
Firstly, thanks to the smell of the country liquor he must have consumed at lunch and secondly, owing to his worldly expression of commonsense and life’s experience.
Actually, the incident took place while we reached the intersection just under the Park Circus flyover. A young, quite hardy, and self-employed beggar knocked on the windowpane close to my seat in the rear to draw my attention. He was begging in the name of Lokenath Baba, as if the BABA instructed him only to beg from people minus doing any work in order to worship the BABA as a devotee.
Facing the beggar (or should I say the bugger) and his petty efforts to make a few quick bucks, I, obviously, became very disgusted. Though I didn’t utter a single word but my facial expression was changed. So was my body language. Towards annoyance, of course.
The cabby, on the rear view mirror, I’m sure, witnessed that change on me. Hence, he opened his mouth to talk. For the first time, in fact, since I boarded his cab.
The first thing he said was that we, the Indians, especially the Kolkatans were losing on our workability and self-dignity rather thick and fast.
Frankly, I was taken aback. Those types of word, and that too, from a so called “illiterate” cabby… well, kind of a shockwave to me. However, those words helped me erase my beggar-bugging irritation and, instantly, I turned pretty curious to know why he said so.
So, I enquired and he explained, “Sir, foreigners love to see beggars in our country, especially begging on roads. Thus, they are the major contributors or donors of such an easy-money to our young brigade – who don’t have the requisite education to understand what’s good to earn and what’s not. Plus, those moneyed men of our own nation also patronize this begging spree, so that they too can exploit and pick those uneducated and idle brains as and when required.”
I was stunned! Yes, I was truly stunned! Was I listening to a cabby? Was I? I didn’t know. And, inevitably, my next question to the guy at the wheel was, “How could you utter such things? Who told you these?”
Pat came his reply, “None, sir. Whatever I told you was my hard earned experience. Because I have seen places and people. I have been driving for 22 years. Earlier, I used to drive trucks and travelled to Delhi, Mumbai, and Siliguri, and almost all parts of Assam and Punjab… and now for the last three years, I have been driving taxi at Kolkata.”
I pushed his words down, in a great hurry, through the gullet of my mind. There was no time to digest though, as we reached Gariahat.
Later on, in the evening, when I was strolling around the lake, I was actually trying to digest what I heard from that cabby.
I really wonder, if a cabby in our country can think so and reflect such a truth, as a matter of fact, off the rear view mirror, then why can’t the majority of our leaders, politicians, industrialists, intellectuals, social, motivational and management gurus can’t do the same for the millions of followers whom they lead everyday, everywhere, and every time!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The day began with a bright sun. The sky was pristine blue. There was serenity in the air and peace all around.
I woke up quite early on that day. The clock was ticking at 6.30 only. On my way to the balcony, I peeped into her room. I thought she was sleeping. So I tiptoed close to her bed. Frankly, I had no intention to disturb and break her sleep. The room was dark enough to balk my vision. It was tough for me to get a better view of her through the mosquito net. So after a while, I resigned and reached the balcony.
I was feeling an immerging sense of tranquility inside me. The feeling was intensifying because of the environment, which happened to be so clear and clean that early morning.
Breakfast was over by 9.30. As a result the gush of deep thoughts started to toss my mind into the whirlpool of idleness. What to do next and what not to… happened to be a million dollar question to me that time, because I was jobless in those days.
All of a sudden the phone rang at around 11.00 am. There was none near the cradle. So I had to go and attend the call. Bingo! It was for me only. A sweet female voice checked on me whether I was game to visit their office for an interview at 3.30-4.00 pm. The position was: Junior Copywriter.
Honestly, I was no insane to give it a miss. Thus, pat came my reply, “Yes, I’m coming on dot!”
I got ready rather in a hurry. Before I left, I again went to her room. She was wide awake then. Lying in her bed, nonchalantly, she was looking at the ceiling with a vacant and visionless stare. Incoherently, she was feeling the lump on her forehead and trying to move her unmovable and motionless right foot… of course, in vain.
Metastatic Carcinoma i.e. “cancer at last stage” was forcing her and her indomitable spirit to succumb to death. However, she was reluctant to surrender so easily, hence there was always a continuing fight between pain and perseverance.
And I was a mere spectator of this grueling battle… bout after bout… everyday, every night, offering NO relief to her thanks to my joblessness and helplessness.
I used to realise that no more she was able to counter the pain. Her ability to punch back was diminishing, gradually. Despite, she couldn’t feel like giving in because she had a worry, a big worry, about me and my future.
Anyway, I reached for the interview. The bullies took off, immediately, in their most sophisticated guise. And why not, after all admen would hardly get such a soft and non-English speaking target like me for their fun-crunch! Therefore those guys’ suave humiliation and intimidation was jolly well acceptable – as if their guidance provided me with, honourably.
Somehow I managed to survive and got selected for the final round – scheduled to be held after two weeks. I was elated. Precisely, relieved.
I walked off the interviewer’s office. Looked up at the sky. And found unlike the morning it was cloudy and heavy. It was about to rain cats and dogs.
I had to return home soon. I had to convey the good news to her.
But how? Before I perched onto a bus, the sky opened up. Torrential shower engulfed the vicinity. I tugged myself under a shade competing with a few dogs, roadside. I was praying to god, “Please let me go home fast,” as I had to see the smile on her face, courtesy my first ever success in job market.
After almost one and half hours, the rain ceased a bit. I boarded a bus. Then took an auto. And was reaching home almost running through the lane with a heart full of happiness and smiling galore.
I reached home. But felt an uncanny lull in the surroundings. A few people were standing underneath our house. I asked them, “What happened?” None said anything. I chose to waste no time. Rushed to the staircase. Climbed up to the door in a flash. Then gate crashed.
I saw that she was lying in her bed with an angelic smile on her face. There was no sign of pain. She was rather resting in heavenly peace. Perhaps god conveyed the good news to her on behalf of me.
5th August, exactly at 5 pm, that’s how she left me forever.
And she was my MOTHER.