Wednesday, 31 August 2016

My wanderings - 40. Short Story No. 22. The Crime of Lambhodhar Bakaya

Lambhodhar was perhaps born in the beginning of twentieth century in a small two storey dilapidated house situated on a narrow  lane of Batyaar mohalla in Alikadal area opening towards river Jehlum  ghat adjacent to temple.  His father had a small kiryana shop in the same lane which was the only  source of his income to   support a large family. Lambhodhar was born after his mother had already given birth to five daughters one after another in succession with a desire to get a son. Although Lambhodhar was brought up with much pampering but dearth and  poverty hovered the household throughout his childhood and youth. When Lambhodhar completed Matriculation four of his sisters were already married. He wanted to do something innovative so that he can support his  family nicely. He got a Govt job  but after working in Govt for few years Lambhodhar renovated the shop of
his father and started the business on large scale with him. He also started money lending business. When the business picked up, Lambhodhar left the job and devoted himself wholeheartedly towards family business and money lending. He was very  eager to make money and status and therefore, he never looked back. In the meantime his last sister  got married and his parents were now eager to marry  Lambhodhar also. Lambhodhar was fortunate enough to marry a very wise and beautiful girl who became an inspiration for Lambhodhar to work harder and realise his dream of becoming a rich man with a status in society. He was now a perfect moneylender, who was well acquainted with the tricks of  his trade.He could make a large property and money. Only tregedy in his life was that his wife could not bear a child for him. He was however , advised by his well wishers to adopt a child but he was not interested in that.
As the business of Lambhodhar was expanding day by day,  he was not able to manage cash and pledged  jewellery as Banking system was not much in vouge those days. He was however,  carrying cash and jewellery to his home on daily basis and ensuring its custody in a safe kept thereat.There were only  one or two branches of Bank that too located far away near Amira Kadal during those days. Moreover, Lambhodhar was also skeptical  about the functioning of Banking system. He thought about it as a direct intrusion on his trade. But as he grew old,  one day on the advise of his well wisher , he was compelled to open a Bank account with the major amount of  his earnings I.e. Rupees one lakh, a huge amount those days. He also deposited some jewelleries in the  Bank in the form of  Bank Safe custody as lockers were not available those days. It was the jewellery  usurped by him  from  his defaulter borrowers. 
After depositing his prize possession,  Lambhodhar reached his residence feeling restless. He could not sleep the whole night. He was not sure about the safety of his valuables at bank. He considered Bank employees careless and incompetent to guard his valuables. He repented over his decision and cursed his well wisher who gave him this useless suggestion. He made it a point to guard his valuables himself also in addition to Bank staff. He started visiting the bank daily on foot from Alikadal  to Amirakadal after Banking hours to ensure that Main Gate of Bank was properly locked. In this exercise he used  to fondle the Lock with his hands. This exercise of Lambhodhar remained unnoticed for several days. But one day he reached the Bank earlier than usual. The Bank people were still loitering nearby after locking the Bank door. They noticed an old man fiddling with the Bank Lock. They became suspicious and caught hold of him and informed police. The Lambhodhar had to spent a full night at Police station. This incident left a deep impact over the nerves of Lambhodhar. He could not sleep the whole night he spent in the police station. The reality of life dawned upon him. Though he was not guilty but he felt the guilt taking possession of him. He was not guilty of tampering the lock of Bank but he felt guilty of tampering the lives of thousands of his clients who took loan from him and pledged their valuables for it, which they could not redeem later on even after paying to him heavily in terms of Intrest and service. They were the people of his society and community, even his relatives who were poor  and deseperate like his father. He in order to make a fast buck altered their  peaceful life by adding misery to it. He had lost  all business ethics and tampered with Intrest rates of accounts of his clients taking due advantage of their illiteracy and innocence. Now he wanted to redeem his guilt.
Next day when Branch Agent visited the Police Station, he was surprised to see Lambhodhar Bakaya, a valued customer of Bank as culprit. He sought apologies from Lambhodhar and arranged for his immediate release.
After his release, Lambhodhar Bakaya took back possession of his Jewellery items from Bank   and tried to locate their bona fide owners or their kiths and  kins by searching his own ledgers and was successful in returning the most of them.
Mr Bakaya never felt the need of making premature payment of his Fixed Deposit of Rupees one lakh, which was huge amount those days ,in his life time. It was only reinvested several times. But after the death of both Mrs Bakaya and Mr Bakaya in quick succession and after receiving no claim from anybody, Bank transferred the amount to Unclaimed Depositors account with due notice to Reserve Bank of India.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

My Wanderings - 39. Short Story No 21 The Dilemma of a Diplomat

Omkar Nath Kaul, popularly known as O.N.Kaul was a well known personality  in diplomatic circles and also famous  beyond  corridors and hierarchy of external affairs ministry of the country. He was even posted on senior positions  in many embassies of India located in various foreign  countries .  He started his career from a humble background. His father was a primary school teacher with a large family to support. Omkar was third child amongst the family of four  brothers and three sisters. His father was not able to provide all his children a better future but Omkar was an exception. He was extraordinarily intelligent and by the dint  of his  hard work  and patorn age  of some  community members already established  in New Delhi,  he  could  realise his dream of qualifying IFS, unlike his other siblings who had to remain contended with the circumstances and to eat a humble pie.
Omkar also got a wife from an affluent family who was a little arrogant right from beginning and  hardly tried to maintain relations with her in-laws. Omkar mostly remained posted outside his native state and
even in foreign countries. Therefore, in a rush to create  his  resourcefulness   in higher circles, he could not also keep much track of his roots. In earlier years of his career some old acquaintances and  relations visited him to seek some help from him in the alien environs of capital then, but after observing indifferent attitude of Omkar and his wife, they hardly visited him thereafter. In the meantime he remained busy in making his career and building  resources . He learned the tricks of his trade and achieved excellence in International laws and techniques associated with it. He was consulted   even by his seniors often and  accompanied them  when ever there were bilateral treaties or negotiations with other countries.  It was by virtue of his resourcefulness  and using his good offices ,he also managed to purchase a huge property comprising of few apartments in New Delhi and a farm house near Shimla. His children, a son and a daughter also got the opportunity of  getting better education earlier in India and later on in foreign countries. They also got married as per their choice and  settled  there
Mr Kaul after retirement from active service could not reconcile with  retired life and therefore, joined again some MNC on very senior position after completing the necessary time  gap between the two jobs  giving due cognisance to law. In the mean time his wife died   due to heart ailment. After the death of his wife, his health deteriorated tremendously and  he was advised by Doctors to take due care of his health if he wanted to live more. Finally he decided to leave the job and live in serene atmosphere of his farm house near Shimla despite  of the fact that both his son and daughter advised him to join them at  their places.
He however, employed a local lad of the village in the age group of early twenties to look after himself and his farm house. His name was Mohan and being a country lad, he was very simple and full of dreams as per his age. He worked very sincerely and proved very helpful to Mr.Kaul. Mr Kaul liked his company very much. After few years the health of Mr. Kaul deteriorated further. His body became very weak and frail and he was not able to move with out the  help  of Mohan.His body muscles became very thin  and his skin appeared loosely dangling from his fragile bones. He was in possession of everything,  nature's bounty as well as all the materialistic gadgets. But his  personal faculties failed him to enjoy the same. He could not enjoy a bite of apple from his farm because of his weak teeth. He could not enjoy the chirp of birds or buzz of early breeze because he was hard of hearing now. A little cool air would ache his bones to the hilt. All the money and property amassed so far, appeared to him of little value as compared to good health, which he had taken for granted through out his active career. He sometimes envied the good health of Mohan, which he considered the real wealth now. He desired to live a poor man's life with good health and youth. He sometimes conceived to barter all his fortunes with Mohan against his healthy body and young age .  It would have been a good bargain. He was perhaps in dilemma.  He could reminisce that almost all his wishes of youthful days had been realised but against a huge cost that he had to pay for it in terms of his health and age. He wished now to un realise his dreams and get his health and youth back.   But  on the other hand Mohan was full of dreams. He wanted to make money and property in his life. He also wanted to make name  and  fortune like  Mr Kaul, who was his ideal.  He was also taking his good health and youth for granted.
One day Mohan said to Mr Kaul, 'sir I have heard that you are having very Good connection in New Delhi, can't you recommend me for a Govt. job'
Mr Kaul was stunned by this question of Mohan. He could most easily adjust him somewhere but he felt helpless in his absence.  He most sincerely wanted to help Mohan, but his mere existence was in peril with out him. Therefore, he could not reply him properly. This question of Mohan haunted Mr. Kaul for several days and finally he took a decision . He sent for his lawyer and changed his will and transferred the  property rights of Farm House to Mohan after his death.
Mohan most loyally worked with Mr Kaul till his death. Then Mohan changed the farm house into a Guest house as per the dictates of Mr. Kaul, which became a source of livelihood for him afterwards.
Any reader going to Shimla can still enquire about the Omkar Guest House, which is  fifty kms away from it towards north.