Thursday, May 18, 2017

AN UNFINISHED STORY

I had become a regular to the city park. Not that I was an early riser and fond of morning walk but that my blood sugar had shot up in spite of insulin jabs twice a day. My physician had therefore suggested ‘morning walk’ at least five days a week.
          “You must walk at least 5 kilometres every day. That is the only way to manage your sugar level.”
It was a Doctor’s order. Couldn’t be defied. I accepted it even if grudgingly. In implementing this regimen, my wife Malini played a major role. She would coax him out of bed at five in the morning and place my walking kit before me.
          “Have at least five rounds of the park, you lousy bum.”
          I started following the regimen reluctantly but gradually I started liking it. The lab tests were encouraging. My sugar level had come down; I was elated by the results.  

There were young, middle, past middle and old age people in the park. A few jogged, some walked briskly, others walked and some rambled leisurely; everyone to his own comfort level. Some of the ‘walkers’ listened to music with earphones plugged in; the elderly few had walking sticks to steady their walking.  
          A week later I noticed an elderly person walking with a middle age lady. They too were regular. The old man and the lady would take two rounds of the park. Then the old man would sit on a bench and read newspaper and the lady would plug in her earphones and start jogging. I observed that the lady took five to six rounds non-stop and every time she passed by the old man, she would whisper something to him. The old man would nod his head and gesture her to continue. I was curious to find out about the odd couple. One day I stopped by the old man and wished him. The latter simply nodded his head. 
“I am Professor Arvind, have started coming to the park recently.” I said extending my hand.
The old man stared at me and after a long awkward pause whispered, “Prof Ankit Shukla, years back taught Chemistry in Hindu College.”
“I taught History in Government College, Patiala. Have shifted to Delhi recently,”
Thereafter we two often met in the park; exchanged niceties but there was no word about the lady accompanying the old man. I deemed it proper to let the matter rest at that.
“Come over to my place sometime. We can chat over coffee,” the elderly professor suggested one day giving out his address to me.
Even though we belonged to different disciplines, we blended well. In short, we became good friends and at times we stealthily managed beer sessions.  We discussed world events, the contemporary scientific developments world over and local politics. We spoke on various matters including increasing number of divorces and modern cult of ‘live-in’ but never spoke about the lady who chaperoned Professor Shukla. I understood that he was cagey about it and I thought it proper to leave the matter to his judgement.
One afternoon when we were having beer, Professor Shukla became emotional.  It was the death anniversary of his wife. It is then that he started narrating his story to me.
II
I was the Head of Department of Chemistry of Hindu College. There I met Ananya, the lady you see with me in the park. She was newly appointed as lecturer and was doing her PhD under my guidance. Ananya was a diligent and conscientious tutor with commendable academic profile. Her students respected her, which you would appreciate was no mean testimonial for a young lecturer. I was also pleased to get laudable feedback from her peers.
I was a married person, happy with my wife and two grown up children. Life was smooth and normal. Ananya sometimes came to my place. She was quite friendly with my children but my wife Malini kept a distance from her.  AnAN UNFINISHED STORY

I had become a regular to the city park. Not that I was an early riser and fond of morning walk but that my blood sugar had shot up in spite of insulin jabs twice a day. My physician had therefore suggested ‘morning walk’ at least five days a week.
“You must walk at least 5 kilometres every day. That is the only way to manage your sugar level.” 
It was a Doctor’s order. Couldn’t be defied. I accepted it even if grudgingly. In implementing this regimen, my wife Malini played a major role. She would coax him out of bed at five in the morning and place my walking kit before me.
“Have at least five rounds of the park, you lousy bum.” 
I started following the regimen reluctantly but gradually I started liking it. The lab tests were encouraging. My sugar level had come down; I was elated by the results.  

There were young, middle, past middle and old age people in the park. A few jogged, some walked briskly, others walked and some rambled leisurely; everyone to his own comfort level. Some of the ‘walkers’ listened to music with earphones plugged in; the elderly few had walking sticks to steady their walking.  
A week later I noticed an elderly person walking with a middle age lady. They too were regular. The old man and the lady would take two rounds of the park. Then the old man would sit on a bench and read newspaper and the lady would plug in her earphones and start jogging. I observed that the lady took five to six rounds non-stop and every time she passed by the old man, she would whisper something to him. The old man would nod his head and gesture her to continue. I was curious to find out about the odd couple. One day I stopped by the old man and wished him. The latter simply nodded his head.  
“I am Professor Arvind, have started coming to the park recently.” I said extending my hand. 
The old man stared at me and after a long awkward pause whispered, “Prof Ankit Shukla, years back taught Chemistry in Hindu College.” 
“I taught History in Government College, Patiala. Have shifted to Delhi recently,”
Thereafter we two often met in the park; exchanged niceties but there was no word about the lady accompanying the old man. I deemed it proper to let the matter rest at that. 
“Come over to my place sometime. We can chat over coffee,” the elderly professor suggested one day giving out his address to me. 
Even though we belonged to different disciplines, we blended well. In short, we became good friends and at times we stealthily managed beer sessions.  We discussed world events, the contemporary scientific developments world over and local politics. We spoke on various matters including increasing number of divorces and modern cult of ‘live-in’ but never spoke about the lady who chaperoned Professor Shukla. I understood that he was cagey about it and I thought it proper to leave the matter to his judgement. 
One afternoon when we were having beer, Professor Shukla became emotional.  It was the death anniversary of his wife. It is then that he started narrating his story to me. 
II
I was the Head of Department of Chemistry of Hindu College. There I met Ananya, the lady you see with me in the park. She was newly appointed as lecturer and was doing her PhD under my guidance. Ananya was a diligent and conscientious tutor with commendable academic profile. Her students respected her, which you would appreciate was no mean testimonial for a young lecturer. I was also pleased to get laudable feedback from her peers.
I was a married person, happy with my wife and two grown up children. Life was smooth and normal. Ananya sometimes came to my place. She was quite friendly with my children but my wife Malini kept a distance from her.  Ananya used to spend some time with me in my ‘study’ discussing her thesis. My wife had some reservation about it. According to her, there should be a distinction between office and home but she never let Ananya know her mind. Ananya, whenever she came, always brought snacks, which I devoured wholesomely. This made my wife uncomfortable. 
“She is a fantastic cook. I will add in your credentials,” I used to pull Ananya’s leg on such occasions.  Soon she became a good friend of my daughter Sonakshi who was a middle level executive with a multinational. Those days we were looking for a suitable match for Sonakshi in marriage portals after she had made amply clear to us that she didn’t have anyone in mind. 
We selected few names and then made enquiries and finally we zeroed on two boys. One evening we were discussing the two options since Sonakshi was not able to make up her mind even though she had met both the boys and had been out with them. Ananya too was present there. 
“Both are nice, suave and well placed professionally. Both are from good families and both are handsome,” Sonakshi said, blushing a little. 
    “But I really can’t choose between the two,” Sonakshi continued and then suddenly turning towards Ananya she said, “Ananya! Tell me if you were in my place, what you would look for in them.”
Ananya’s reply was spontaneous. “Look! I will grade the guy who nears your father’s perfect ten.” 
I was embarrassed at Ananya’s compliment, rather unsettled; gaped at Sonakshi who bore a meaningful smile. And then I looked peevishly at my wife. She was looking at the ceiling, seemingly not amused. 
As mentioned earlier, Malini had some reservations over Ananya’s visit to my place. She even sometimes entered my ‘study’ when I was with Ananya. I noticed it but ignored it because my conscience was clear. I was just helping my student professionally. For me Ananya was just a junior, a young affable colleague. I had no inkling or intuition of what she felt about me. And yet to my utter dismay, I found Malini changed since that evening. She was glum and non-participative in our day to day talks. 

Ananya was tall, lithe and fair. She had long black hair reaching her curves.  She had told me that she was a basket ball player in her college days. That night I couldn’t sleep comfortably. I failed to wean my thoughts away from Ananya and I noticed a change even in Malini; not sleeping like she usually did. Normally, Malini would sleep like a log the moment she hit the bed. 
Till that evening I had never realized that Ananya was remarkably beautiful and attractive. Next morning when she came to my room during recess, I found she was not merely beautiful; she was awfully beautiful, charming and desirable. And then I remembered the previous evening’s episode. 
“You should have been careful. I am not sure what Sonakshi thinks about it but Malini is surely not pleased.”
Ananya suddenly became serious. I saw tears at the corner of her eyes. I was quick to realize that it could be another moment of embarrassment if anyone entered my room at that moment. 
“Please control yourself. Let’s not create a scene here too,” I spoke gruffly.
“Sorry sir. I am very sorry ... please forgive me,” she whispered and left the room. 

Ananya didn’t come to the college for a week. I was worried but couldn’t share my concern with anyone. I thought of ringing her; thought of going to her place but could not muster enough courage. I even thought of relinquishing to be her ‘guide’ but that would have hurt her. I didn’t want that. 
I had lost my sleep. 
Then one morning Ananya came to my room, wished me briefly and left the room leaving an envelope on my table. I didn’t have courage to open the envelope then and there even though I was quite inquisitive. I decided to open it during lunch hours. 
It was a short letter. It read:
Sir, 
It is not easy for me to justify what transpired that evening at your place. Equally difficult is to explain what I feel for you and why I should have developed these feelings. 
The fact is that I fell in love with you in our very first meeting when you were explaining the academic curriculum to me. I knew you were an elderly person with a family. I always knew it was absolute foolishness on my part but I couldn’t stop myself. The fact is that you are ensconced deep in my mind, heart and soul. I tried to reason it out with myself several times but have failed.  But now I assure you. Never shall I cause discomforting moments for you. 
Please forgive me, this one time.

Ananya

Ananya completed her PhD under my guidance. Then she had a change of job. She was appointed in the nearby Ramjas College. It was only chance meeting that we saw each other. I learnt from some of the colleagues that she was not interested in marriage and had told her parents accordingly. 

Professor Shukla had a long sip of beer and continued as I sat spellbound. 
Sonakshi got married and shifted to America with her husband. My son got a job in Australia. He married a local girl and settled there. 
I am not sure whether Malini forgave me. She never talked of that eventful evening and she never talked of Ananya with me even though Ananya came on the marriage ceremony of both our children; wishing them and presenting them exclusive gifts. There was a message in my wife’s silence. 

I retired from teaching and shifted to the present flat. We were a lonely couple and unfortunately, I became a loner after Malini suddenly died of pneumonia couple of years later.  
After the funeral Ananya came to my place with other colleagues and expressed condolence.  Ananya stayed back as others left. Quietly, she started taking care of the house and of the mourners.  My children reached two days after the cremation. Ananya took care of them and their children. We hardly spoke.

 My children returned after a month. My daughter wanted me to accompany her but I was so attached to the place and the memories associated with it that I didn’t want to leave. Moreover, I wanted to retain my freedom. 
Professor Shukla paused, looked at the sky; there was a lump in his throat. A little later he continued. 

Ananya has hired a flat next door and has been taking care of me since then. She starts her day by dragging me out of bed and taking me to the park. She makes my breakfast and leaves instructions with the maid for the day. On certain evenings she comes and takes dinner with me before going to her place. 
I tell her repeatedly to find a suitable match and get married but she simply ignores me.

That is the end of our unfinished story. Professor Shukla said smiling feebly. 
It was a melancholic smile of an anguished soul. 

 “It is sheer madness. You saw how she comes to me after completing each round and asks me if I were ok,” Professor Shukla managed to say with lot of efforts, wiping the tears that had welled up in his eyes..  

I was virtually shaken. I had no words. We looked at each other in silence and as I got up to leave, Professor Shukla whispered. 
“You know Professor! Her extreme devotion really pains me.  It hurts me that her life has become an unfinished story because of me.” 


anya used to spend some time with me in my ‘study’ discussing her thesis. My wife had some reservation about it. According to her, there should be a distinction between office and home but she never let Ananya know her mind. Ananya, whenever she came, always brought snacks, which I devoured wholesomely. This made my wife uncomfortable.
“She is a fantastic cook. I will add in your credentials,” I used to pull Ananya’s leg on such occasions.  Soon she became a good friend of my daughter Sonakshi who was a middle level executive with a multinational. Those days we were looking for a suitable match for Sonakshi in marriage portals after she had made amply clear to us that she didn’t have anyone in mind.
We selected few names and then made enquiries and finally we zeroed on two boys. One evening we were discussing the two options since Sonakshi was not able to make up her mind even though she had met both the boys and had been out with them. Ananya too was present there.
“Both are nice, suave and well placed professionally. Both are from good families and both are handsome,” Sonakshi said, blushing a little.
    “But I really can’t choose between the two,” Sonakshi continued and then suddenly turning towards Ananya she said, “Ananya! Tell me if you were in my place, what you would look for in them.”
Ananya’s reply was spontaneous. “Look! I will grade the guy who nears your father’s perfect ten.”
I was embarrassed at Ananya’s compliment, rather unsettled; gaped at Sonakshi who bore a meaningful smile. And then I looked peevishly at my wife. She was looking at the ceiling, seemingly not amused.
As mentioned earlier, Malini had some reservations over Ananya’s visit to my place. She even sometimes entered my ‘study’ when I was with Ananya. I noticed it but ignored it because my conscience was clear. I was just helping my student professionally. For me Ananya was just a junior, a young affable colleague. I had no inkling or intuition of what she felt about me. And yet to my utter dismay, I found Malini changed since that evening. She was glum and non-participative in our day to day talks.

Ananya was tall, lithe and fair. She had long black hair reaching her curves.  She had told me that she was a basket ball player in her college days. That night I couldn’t sleep comfortably. I failed to wean my thoughts away from Ananya and I noticed a change even in Malini; not sleeping like she usually did. Normally, Malini would sleep like a log the moment she hit the bed.
Till that evening I had never realized that Ananya was remarkably beautiful and attractive. Next morning when she came to my room during recess, I found she was not merely beautiful; she was awfully beautiful, charming and desirable. And then I remembered the previous evening’s episode.
“You should have been careful. I am not sure what Sonakshi thinks about it but Malini is surely not pleased.”
Ananya suddenly became serious. I saw tears at the corner of her eyes. I was quick to realize that it could be another moment of embarrassment if anyone entered my room at that moment.
“Please control yourself. Let’s not create a scene here too,” I spoke gruffly.
“Sorry sir. I am very sorry ... please forgive me,” she whispered and left the room.

Ananya didn’t come to the college for a week. I was worried but couldn’t share my concern with anyone. I thought of ringing her; thought of going to her place but could not muster enough courage. I even thought of relinquishing to be her ‘guide’ but that would have hurt her. I didn’t want that.
I had lost my sleep.
Then one morning Ananya came to my room, wished me briefly and left the room leaving an envelope on my table. I didn’t have courage to open the envelope then and there even though I was quite inquisitive. I decided to open it during lunch hours.
It was a short letter. It read:
Sir,
It is not easy for me to justify what transpired that evening at your place. Equally difficult is to explain what I feel for you and why I should have developed these feelings.
The fact is that I fell in love with you in our very first meeting when you were explaining the academic curriculum to me. I knew you were an elderly person with a family. I always knew it was absolute foolishness on my part but I couldn’t stop myself. The fact is that you are ensconced deep in my mind, heart and soul. I tried to reason it out with myself several times but have failed.  But now I assure you. Never shall I cause discomforting moments for you.
Please forgive me, this one time.

Ananya

Ananya completed her PhD under my guidance. Then she had a change of job. She was appointed in the nearby Ramjas College. It was only chance meeting that we saw each other. I learnt from some of the colleagues that she was not interested in marriage and had told her parents accordingly.

Professor Shukla had a long sip of beer and continued as I sat spellbound.
Sonakshi got married and shifted to America with her husband. My son got a job in Australia. He married a local girl and settled there.
I am not sure whether Malini forgave me. She never talked of that eventful evening and she never talked of Ananya with me even though Ananya came on the marriage ceremony of both our children; wishing them and presenting them exclusive gifts. There was a message in my wife’s silence.

I retired from teaching and shifted to the present flat. We were a lonely couple and unfortunately, I became a loner after Malini suddenly died of pneumonia couple of years later.  
After the funeral Ananya came to my place with other colleagues and expressed condolence.  Ananya stayed back as others left. Quietly, she started taking care of the house and of the mourners.  My children reached two days after the cremation. Ananya took care of them and their children. We hardly spoke.

 My children returned after a month. My daughter wanted me to accompany her but I was so attached to the place and the memories associated with it that I didn’t want to leave. Moreover, I wanted to retain my freedom.
Professor Shukla paused, looked at the sky; there was a lump in his throat. A little later he continued.

Ananya has hired a flat next door and has been taking care of me since then. She starts her day by dragging me out of bed and taking me to the park. She makes my breakfast and leaves instructions with the maid for the day. On certain evenings she comes and takes dinner with me before going to her place.
I tell her repeatedly to find a suitable match and get married but she simply ignores me.

That is the end of our unfinished story. Professor Shukla said smiling feebly.
It was a melancholic smile of an anguished soul.

 “It is sheer madness. You saw how she comes to me after completing each round and asks me if I were ok,” Professor Shukla managed to say with lot of efforts, wiping the tears that had welled up in his eyes..  

I was virtually shaken. I had no words. We looked at each other in silence and as I got up to leave, Professor Shukla whispered.
“You know Professor! Her extreme devotion really pains me.  It hurts me that her life has become an unfinished story because of me.”



Thursday, May 11, 2017

MANUSMRITI PART- II

She had been working in my house for nearly a year. I understand my wife had a long talk with her during her first meeting before my wife engaged her. I remember it was a long interview followed by my wife’s talking to her previous employer; asking her all that can be asked about a female household help - the kaamwali. The new Kaamwali had a son by the name of Nandu so my wife started calling her ‘Nandu ki Amma’. That was her identity in our house. My son and daughter called her by that name and so did I even though over a period we had learnt that her name was Rajani. In any case, I never had any occasion to talk to Rajani. First, I used to leave my house in the morning before she came and I returned home late in the evening much after she had left. Besides, I considered it prudent not to get into trifles since our house hold ran on my wife’s dictate. My wife was happy with Rajani’s work and that is what mattered.
“Rajani is punctual and quick in uptake. She has learnt my likes and dislikes in a very short span. She knows,  I like floors and cupboards shining bright.  She knows, we like coffee in the morning and children like hot milk with Horlicks and that we like lesser use of edible oil and condiments,” my wife had mentioned on a Sunday morning while she was in an expansive mood after a delicious idli-dosa breakfast prepared by Rajani.
Rajani must be in her mid-forties - that was my guess. I had noticed her long jet black hair curling over her hind side and that she was tall, fair and voluptuous. Truthfully, I knew she had an exciting profile but I never crossed the safety line.
It was the eve of Holi festival. My wife had asked Rajani to come early and help her in making some snacks for the guests. Rajani didn’t come early; even her normal reporting time had gone past. My wife was annoyed even though my daughter had extended her a helping hand.
“She shouldn’t have promised to come early or should have at least come on regular time. It is mid noon and there is no trace of her. I don’t like such irresponsible behavior,” grumbled my wife forgetting all the earlier homilies she delivered in her praise.  
Our guests came. There were snacks cooked by my wife and daughter overly supplemented by those brought by my son from the nearby confectioner. In fact, no one was eager in picking up the home made snacks, which riled my wife a trifle bit.  We played Holi and then the guests departed. We decided to close the festivities and go for a wash. My wife was unhappy and still grumbling.
“So much of this left over will go waste. If Nandu’s Amma were here, she could have taken it to her family. Of late, this woman is becoming difficult,” my wife growled as she started arranging the household.
And then there seemed to be some commotion at our gate. I saw Rajani running in and a man chasing her with a hockey stick in his hand. The burly man was followed by an elderly boy and a teen aged girl.Rajani ran inside without talking to us. We were flabbergasted. The man and his children stopped short of our court yard. The man was fuming. It was obvious that he was overly drunk.
“This woman has been avoiding me since yesterday; refuses to come to me at night. And she has been dying to come to you since day break,” he said staring at me. 
I got damned scared and hastily rushed towards my room. 
The man won’t stop. Coming close to me he shouted, “You and your wife have been tempting her with money and gifts and I know what that means - you have been seducing her.”
At that point Rajani came out. She had bruises all around and there was blood oozing from her mouth. She was shrieking and shouting.
“You are an inhuman beast.  You treat me as if I were an animal. You want me to act like a bitch; always in heat. I don’t want to stay with you anymore.”
Then turning towards me she cried, “Sahib! See, how badly he has beaten me with the hockey stick. He is butcher, a demon.”
The brute jumped towards Rajani swinging the hockey stick but my son came in between. That made him furious.
“You think this old foggy will keep you? He will use you and kick your ass when he is tired of you. I know these bastards. They want a new woman every other day.”
I was furious at the accusation and I didn’t want to take it lying down. I asked my son to take out the car. “I am going to take Rajani to the police station. This scoundrel should not get scot free.”
I was emboldened when my wife joined me instantly. “Yes.  These rascals should not be left unpunished,” she said with a determined look.
We went to the police station and narrated the whole story to theSub Inspector on duty. Initially, the SI was quite reluctant to register a case.
Sahib! I know these people. They will fight one day and be friends the next day. It is a daily affair for these women to be thrashed by their husbands. In fact, they are proud of it in a funnier way. It is the sign of masculinity in men - to thrash their women once in a while.”
“Stop yapping. Record a FIR or else I will report the matter to your superior,” I snapped.
The SI knew I was in the media and lack of diligence could land him introuble. A FIR and Rajani’s statement was recorded and then she was sent to the government hospital for a medical check-up and I insisted that her husband was also tested for excessive intake of alcohol.
We returned to my place minus Rajani’s husband who was detained by the SI in the police station.
“We will get the medical report and present him before the city magistrate tomorrow morning,” the SI told me.
I was happy that the scoundrel will get good thrashing while in the police custody. My wife gave Rajani hot tea and snacks to eat. They were in conference while I took a shower and changed. It was agreed between them that Rajani will stay with her maternal uncle’s familywho lived nearby and continue working for us.
A week passed. I was busy like usual, moving in and out of the town. The case was taken up by the city magistrate and I got a court notice to be present in the court on the given date. I consulted Harsh, my school time friend, who was also the lawyer of my business concern. Harsh assured me that there was nothing to worry. You are supposed to strengthen the prosecution case.
 The court proceeding started. We were in for a shock. Rajani was narrating a different story.  I was getting out of my wits. I looked towards the SI and then Harsh in turn. Rajani’s version was miles away from the actual facts.
Rajani blamed me of harassing her sexually in the absence of my wife and that I had groped her several times. That I had often given her money to lieu of sexual favours and threatened her to remain quiet in the matter.
I was aghast to know that she had accused my wife as the one who abetted in the crime.
“Don’t you have any conscience? Aren’t you ashamed of accusing me and my wife of utter untruth,” I shouted.
I was admonished by the magistrate. “You will get enough opportunity to speak out your side of story. Please remain quiet or I will hold you liable for contempt of court.”
That was the first shock I ever got in my life; publically insulted and humiliated. After the court proceedings, we tried to speak to Rajani. She refused to talk to anyone of our family; not even to my wife. In fact, her husband never left her even for a moment. He forbade her to work in my house. She was virtually under house arrest.
After the above proceedings, I found even the SI shying away from me. “Sir! What can I do in the matter? It is between her and you. I am there to merely help in the investigation,
It was the biggest shock of my life. I was crestfallen, thoroughly depressed. I had till then led a pleasant proverbial happy go lucky life. Harsh said he will fight it out in the court but could never spell the future course of action though he had managed a bail for me.
Three days of utter agony and I don’t recollect the number of times and number of ways I thought of ending my life. And then on the fourth evening Harsh asked me to come to our club. “Rajani and her husband have agreed to talk you. The SI will also be there. We could discuss the case there without being disturbed,” This was Harsh, my close friend and lawyer.
“You see the case has turned topsy turvy. Instead of appreciating your help, Rajani has filed a complaint against you. That you molested her modesty several times and that you have been paying her money to keep quite.” That was the SI giving the prelude of the case diary that existed then.
“The FIR stands revised based on Rajani’s statement recorded before the magistrate. You may be in trouble and that too serious one.” That was the pith and substance of the case according to Harsh.
“But you know I am innocent. Never ever looked at the female. Never touched her.”
“That is your truth. The Law is an ass. A blind ass. And unfortunately, provisions’ of law relating to outraging the modesty of women have been made very stringent. Even her statement is enough to put you behind the bar. No additional evidence required.” This was SI again.
“What do you suggest?” I asked the SI.
“The bastard wants ten lakhs to withdraw the complaint,” the SI spoke in a casual way as if there was nothing unusual about it.
I would have fainted but for the presence of my son on my side.
“So- I have been trapped,” I managed to speak.
“Leave that to me and your lawyer. If you are agreeable to shell out the money, we will try to close the case taking the magistrate is with us. Incidentally, the bastard has demanded one lakh,” the SI added, wanting to give credibility to the deal.
“And how much you two bastards get out of it?” I asked Harsh, my life time buddy in utter frustration.
“Breach of Trust - between a lawyer and his client.” Harsh quipped. And then he whispered, I don’t mind having her ass for once.”
My son took the initiative. Next day he went to the SI and called Rajani and her husband there. Harsh was there to help him. The SI and Harsh had drafted a loan document signed by Rajani and her husband agreeing to have taken a loan of ten lakhs from my son. That was the guarantee SI, the law enforcing authority had arranged as safeguard if Rajani or her husband defied the agreement.
A fresh statement was recorded absolving me of all allegations. It stated that Rajani had got hurt during a street fight with unknown Holi revelers over some trifle issue. I was lucky to skip the jail.
Time passed.
We tried to forget the issue. My daughter was married off. My wife and my son and luckily for us, his wife too decided never to appoint any kaamwali. We decided to share the responsibilities between ourselves. I didn’t know where the fault lay. Was it in the changed social system heralding women’s lib or was it in our recently modified law, which had castigated the freedom of male members of the society?
We have to abide by Manusmriti Part II.  I tried to convince myself and my family. 
We wanted to shift from the present location but property matters being complex, couldn’t do so. One day, while buying fresh from vegetable market, I suddenly saw, Rajani squatting on the ground. There were filthy, oily rags wrapped around her knees and she was begging for alms. I was dismayed. My first reaction was that she must be out of job since everyone in our colony believed that she had cheated us; no one engaged her any more. Bad reputation spreads faster than the good one.
Our eyes met and then I hurriedly looked other way. I wanted to get away from the place. I dumped the bag in the boot of my car and came in front. I was perplexed.
Rajani hurriedly dragged herself in front of my car.
What could be her next ploy? I was worried.
As I opened the door of my car, she dragged closer and folded her hands in namastey.
“What do you want now? I don’t want to talk to you. Get away,” I could not keep my cool.
Sahib! Please forgive me. I know I have been very mean to you but please believe me it was the doing of my husband and the SI. They both schemed to trap you and extort money from you. My husband beat me mercilessly and threatened to kill me if I didn’t follow his orders.”
Sahib! The SI took two lakhs out of the money you gave and a lakh was given to the magistrate to withdraw the case. My husband squandered the remaining money within few months and then he wanted me to work for another rich family. He wanted to repeat the same story. The SI had taken him to one of his colleagues who was willing to be the part of next episode.  
“Sahib! I refused to be a party to another game plan and you see the result. He broke both my knees and has thrown me out. I am on the streets for last one week. I knew you come here to buy vegetables. I wanted to seek your forgiveness before I leave this town.”
Sahib! I couldn’t have left the town with so much of burden on my conscience. Please forgive me. I have been punished enough for my sins and I am willing to accept the remaining retribution.
“Where are you going now?”
“I don’t know. I pray for death but it doesn’t come so easily to a sinner like me. I want to go to Haridwar. They say mother Ganga accepts every sinner and forgives him.”
I was stupefied. I hated this woman for all her miss-doings. And here before me was a victim of male brutality; beaten and forced to commit one wrong after another.
“Rajani! I wish I could do something for you. Ironically, we are sailing in the same boat. You are the victim of the ancient social law and I am the victim of its modern version. The Manusmriti – the ancient law was blind towards women; berated the modesty of women and so is its new version- arrogantly belligerent towards men.”

I took out a five hundred rupee note and gave it to her.  “Be God with you,” I whispered while getting into my car leaving behind the hapless woman, her hands folded in supplication. 


Thursday, April 27, 2017

A MALE DESCENDENT AND MOKSHA
(Eternal Liberation of Soul)


Rathore family was happy when Shakuntala was born as the first child of Rajbir Singh Rathore. After religious rituals and havan- a sacrificial oblation to the fire god, the family took the newly born to the village temple and prayed before the goddess for her good fortune and a male sibling after her.
Unfortunately, Rajbir Singh had four more girls after Shakuntala. He was disappointed and so was his octogenarian father, Choudhary Dharambir Singh Rathore.
Rajbir and his father wanted the family name to continue and that was possible only if Rajbir had a male descendent. Besides, the old patriarch also believed that to attain moksha – eternal liberation of soul, the last rites of a deceased ought to be performed by a male descendent. Choudhary Dharambir Singh therefore insisted that Rajbir married again and had a male child from his new wife. Rajbir was reluctant. All his daughters other than Shakuntala were happily settled and financially well off. Rajbir was grateful to god for it.

Unfortunately, Shakuntala’s husband, Shyam Singh turned out to be a habitual gambler and an alcoholic. He squandered his ancestral property, remained mostly idle and was dependent on his in-laws. Two years after her marriage, Shakuntala gave birth to a girl child. They named her Seema. Shakuntala, Shyam Singh and their daughter, Seema lived with Rajbir Singh in the ancestral haveli.

Seema grew tall, beautiful and a bright student. She wanted to be a nurse. After completion of her schooling, Choudhary Dharambir Singh got her a seat in the State Nursing Institute.

Rajbir was over fifty but constantly under pressure from his father to remarry. He finally yielded and married Anita, thirty years his junior. Even though the marriage rituals were hastened, the old bridegroom could not avoid scornful comments of the guests.
“At his age, he should have thought of marrying his granddaughter rather than getting married himself,” someone said derisively.
“This is just to ensure that the property remains within the family,” the other quipped.
“Perhaps he thinks a male child will ensure his moksha,” yet another guest mocked.
Rajbir and Choudhary Dharambir Singh were mute listeners.


A year later, Anita gave birth to a male child. Choudhary Dharambir Singh was overjoyed and wanted large scale celebrations on the occasion. Entire village was invited to a feast. Dharambir Singh ensured lavish supply of liquor to the guests. He wanted them to rejoice and to rejoice himself. “Let this be the all-time best,” he told his munimji, the manager. The child was named Rajbaran Singh Rathore.

Rajbaran was three when Choudhary Dharambir Singh left the earthly world after brief illness. In his dying moments, the Choudhary felt assured of a heavenly berth for he knew his son Rajbir was there to perform his last rites.


Rajbir Singh was now old with indifferent health. Anita, the second wife of Rajbir Sigh became the de facto head of the family, which owned a large tract of land and several buildings. But her task of managing the estate was getting difficult with rising demur from Shakuntala and her mother, the first wife of Rajbir Singh..

Soon trouble brewed within the family and finally came to surface with the three women coming at loggerheads over the controlling of the property. Shyam Singh, who never liked Anita, instigated Shakuntala to ask for her share of the property.
Anita opposed the move vehemently.
“You are no longer a part of Rathore family. In fact, you are lucky that you have not been thrown out of the haveli, she shouted at Shakuntala.

Rajbir was a hapless onlooker. He tried to pacify the two camps but his voice was lost in the din.

A week later, Anita asked Shakuntala to leave the haveli and shift to an adjoining house. “I have told the estate manager to give you two thousand rupees every month to run your household. That is the best you can expect from Rathore family.” She added contemptuously.

“You can’t do that to me. Daughters too have equal right over father’s property. I will take you to the court of law,” Shakuntala protested though she knew she needed someone to assist her in the matter and that her husband was thoroughly incompetent and unreliable.

The family finally split. Shakuntala shifted to the small house given to her by Anita along with Shyam Singh. Seema was still in the Nursing Institute.

Rajbir Singh was sad to see his daughter go but could not withstand Anita’s vehemence.

Seema after successful completion of her training joined the District Hospital. She shifted to a staff quarter of the hospital. Rajbir spent most of his evenings with Seema who had kept herself aloof from the family feud.

Young Rajbaran was the most cared and valued person of Rathore family. Anita took care of him personally and engaged a pair of security guards to protect him whenever he went out of the haveli.

Rajbaran was growing impudent for he got whatever he demanded. He was insolent towards his teachers and misbehaved with his friends. He had acquired the reputation of a rowdy and a bully having no interest in his studies. He always had plentiful of money, which he spent recklessly on his cronies.

Anita was a worried mother realizing that Rajbaran was becoming ill-tempered, arrogant and perfidious.  He would never give fair account of monies given to him; instead he would raise tantrums if persisted. Despite all his angularities, Anita had no heart to deny him anything. Her woes peaked when Rajbaran demanded a sports car. Anita’s appeal and counselling by aging Rajbir Singh were of no avail.

Rajbaran got a car even before he was eligible for a driving licence. Rash driving became his passion. Soon he dropped out of school, joined a political outfit and formed a gang of his own.  He spent most of his time away from home, caring least about his ancestral estate. His mother’s fervent appeals to share her burden in managing the estate didn’t impact him.

Soon Rajbaran was known for his notoriety. The money his mother gave him was not enough to meet his demands. One day he called the estate manager and asked him to remit half of the estate revenues in to his bank account.
The manager was dumbfounded; Anita was deeply distressed but Rajbaran had his way. “You shouldn’t forget. Soon I am going to inherit this property and your future will rest in my hands,” he scolded the manager in front of his mother.

One day the estate manager told Anita that Rajbaran was spending a lot of money on a woman of ill-repute.  Anita was dismayed when she learnt that the woman was several years senior to Rajbaran and had a son from her previous husband. She was desperate to wean Rajbaran away from his new found love but failed. No pleas, no entreaties and no adulations worked.
“Son, think over it again. Your marrying this woman will sully the name of the family. I will find you a beautiful bride,” Anita implored.  

Rajbaran was a possessed man; he ignored his mother’s en5A MALE DESCENDENT AND MOKSHA
(Eternal Liberation of Soul)


Rathore family was happy when Shakuntala was born as the first child of Rajbir Singh Rathore. After religious rituals and havan- a sacrificial oblation to the fire god, the family took the newly born to the village temple and prayed before the goddess for her good fortune and a male sibling after her.
Unfortunately, Rajbir Singh had four more girls after Shakuntala. He was disappointed and so was his octogenarian father, Choudhary Dharambir Singh Rathore.
Rajbir and his father wanted the family name to continue and that was possible only if Rajbir had a male descendent. Besides, the old patriarch also believed that to attain moksha – eternal liberation of soul, the last rites of a deceased ought to be performed by a male descendent. Choudhary Dharambir Singh therefore insisted that Rajbir married again and had a male child from his new wife. Rajbir was reluctant. All his daughters other than Shakuntala were happily settled and financially well off. Rajbir was grateful to god for it.

Unfortunately, Shakuntala’s husband, Shyam Singh turned to be a habitual gambler and an alcoholic. He squandered his ancestral property, remained mostly idle and was dependent on his in-laws. Two years after her marriage, Shakuntala gave birth to a girl child. They named her Seema. Shakuntala, Shyam Singh and their daughter, Seema lived with Rajbir Singh in the ancestral haveli.

Seema grew tall, beautiful and a bright student. She wanted to be a nurse. After completion of her schooling, Choudhary Dharambir Singh got her a seat in the State Nursing Institute.

Rajbir was over fifty but constantly under pressure from his father to remarry. He finally yielded and married Anita, thirty years his junior. Even though the marriage rituals were hastened, the old bridegroom could not avoid scornful comments of the guests.
“At his age, he should have thought of marrying his granddaughter rather than getting married himself,” someone said derisively.
“This is just to ensure that the property remains within the family,” the other quipped.
“Perhaps he thinks a male child will ensure his moksha,” yet another guest mocked.
Rajbir and Choudhary Dharambir Singh were mute listeners.

A year later, Anita gave birth to a male child. Choudhary Dharambir Singh was overjoyed and wanted large scale celebrations on the occasion. Entire village was invited to a feast. Dharambir Singh ensured lavish supply of liquor to the guests. He wanted them to rejoice and to rejoice himself. “Let this be the all-time best,” he told his munimji, the manager. The child was named Rajbaran Singh Rathore.

Rajbaran was three when Choudhary Dharambir Singh left the earthly world after brief illness. In his dying moments, the Choudhary felt assured of a heavenly berth for he knew his son Rajbir was there to perform his last rites.


Rajbir Singh was now old with indifferent health. Anita, the second wife of Rajbir Sigh became the de facto head of the family, which owned a large tract of land and several buildings. But her task of managing the estate was getting difficult with rising demur from Shakuntala and her mother, the first wife of Rajbir Singh..

Soon trouble brewed within the family and finally came to surface with the three women coming at loggerheads over the controlling of the property. Shyam Singh, who never liked Anita, instigated Shakuntala to ask for her share of the property.
Anita opposed the move vehemently.
“You are no longer a part of Rathore family. In fact, you are lucky that you have not been thrown out of the haveli, she shouted at Shakuntala.

Rajbir was a hapless onlooker. He tried to pacify the two camps but his voice was lost in the din.

A week later, Anita asked Shakuntala to leave the haveli and shift to an adjoining house. “I have told the estate manager to give you two thousand rupees every month to run your household. That is the best you can expect from Rathore family.” She added contemptuously.

“You can’t do that to me. Daughters too have equal right over father’s property. I will take you to the court of law,” Shakuntala protested though she knew she needed someone to assist her in the matter and that her husband was thoroughly incompetent and unreliable.

The family finally split. Shakuntala shifted to the small house given to her by Anita along with Shyam Singh. Seema was still in the Nursing Institute.

Rajbir Singh was sad to see his daughter go but could not withstand Anita’s vehemence.

Seema after successful completion of her training joined District Hospital. She shifted to a staff quarter of the hospital. Rajbir spent most of his evenings with Seema who had kept herself aloof from the family feud.

Young Rajbaran was the most cared and valued person of Rathore family. Anita took care of him personally and engaged a pair of security guards to protect him whenever he went out of the haveli.

Rajbaran was growing impudent for he got whatever he demanded. He was insolent towards his teachers and misbehaved with his friends. He had acquired the reputation of a rowdy and a bully having no interest in his studies. He always had plentiful of money, which he spent recklessly on his cronies.

Anita was a worried mother realizing that Rajbaran was becoming ill-tempered, arrogant and perfidious.  He would never give fair account of monies given to him; instead he would raise tantrums if persisted. Despite all his angularities, Anita had no heart to deny him anything. Her woes peaked when Rajbaran demanded a sports car. Anita’s appeal and counselling by aging Rajbir Singh were of no avail.

Rajbaran got a car even before he was eligible for a driving licence. Rash driving became his passion. Soon he dropped out of school, joined a political outfit and formed a gang of his own.  He spent most of his time away from home, caring least about his ancestral estate. His mother’s fervent appeals to share her burden in managing the estate didn’t impact him.

Soon Rajbaran was known for his notoriety. The money his mother gave him was not enough to meet his demands. One day he called the estate manager and asked him to remit half of the estate revenues in to his bank account.
The manager was dumbfounded; Anita was deeply distressed but Rajbaran had his way. “You shouldn’t forget. Soon I am going to inherit this property and your future will rest in my hands,” he scolded the manager in front of his mother.

One day the estate manager told Anita that Rajbaran was spending a lot of money on a woman of ill-repute.  Anita was dismayed when she learnt that the woman was several years senior to Rajbaran and had a son from her previous husband. She was desperate to wean away Rajbaran from his new found love but to no avail. No pleas, no entreaties and no adulations worked.
“Son, think over it again. Your marrying this woman will sully the name of the family. I will find you a beautiful bride,” Anita implored.  

Rajbaran was a possessed man; he ignored his mother’s entreaties.  
“I am going to marry her,” he was emphatic.

Rajbaran mortgaged a property with a local moneylender, married the woman clandestinely and moved away to another town without informing his mother.

When Rajbir came to know of it, he could not bear the shock; he suffered a paralytic attack and was totally immobilised. 

Seema was appalled to see the condition of her grandfather.
“I am taking him to my hospital. It will be easier for me to look after him there,” Seema told Anita who remained a mute onlooker as the former took away Rajbir Singh to the hospital.

Rajbir’s condition kept deteriorating.  Week later, the family was told by the doctors that the end was near. Anita sent couple of her men to locate Rajbaran and luckily they succeeded and returned with him.

Rajbir died the next day.

As Rajbaran was all set to light the pyre of his father, the family lawyer stepped forward and stopped him.
“Sir, you cannot do that,” the lawyer told him politely.
Rajbaran, all family friends and relatives gathered at the cremation ground were shocked.
 Anita was furious. “Don’t you know he is the only male descendent of the deceased? How can you deny him performing his religious obligation?” She shouted at the lawyer.
“Madam, the deceased has named a different person to perform his last rites,” the lawyer replied while opening the will.

Everyone was astonished for the will read: My last rites should be performed by Seema, my granddaughter.treaties.