Sunday, 5 March 2017

My Wanderings - 50 Short Story No. 32. Brothers Karihaloo

The present story revolves  round  my memory lane reflecting  back the early years of Nineteen sixty , when I was a little child and my father was transferred to small hemlet of Khrew , nineteen Kms away  from Srinagar city as In- charge of allopathic dispensary. Actually my father was the first incumbent of Allopathic Dispensary which was earlier an  Ayurvedic one. It was a beautiful village of springs and brooks spread all over the area. The small brooks flowed in the compounds and even through the ground  floors of inhabitants. The water of springs  was relatively warm in winter season as  white cloud like  vapours hovering over the streams were most conspicuous  in cold climate . The nature had bestowed the village with all natural resources which were sufficient to live a  luxurious life for all living beings around  but man's greed had devised ways  to divide it unequally so as to marginalise few.                   The Dispensary was located in a nice two storey building , the upper storey of which was Doctors residence ,where we lived. Adjacent  to Dispensary  compound there was a big chunk of land in the shape of farm  along with a  three storey house constructed beyond the other end of it belonging to one sh. Prakash Ram Karihaloo and on its opposite   periphery, which was just besides  hospital building, there was a kucha one room hutment surrounded by a small piece of land just enough for kitchen garden. The inhabitant of the hutment was Raghav Ram Karihaloo who was  younger brother  of  Prakash Ram. Although both the brothers were having  amazing   similarity in their physical  appearances but were  miraculously apart as per their temperanment was concerned. Prakash Ram was  introvert type of person and appeared to be most cunning while as Raghav Ram was extrovert and an honest person. Both the brothers were at daggers  drawn , living in their seperate houses and no body had seen them talking or meeting ever. Prakash Ram had married once but his wife  died much earlier with out delivering a baby while as Raghav Ram was a chronic bachelor. After the death of their parents Prakash Ram had taken no pains to marry or settle his younger sibling .                                                                       Actually they had some dispute over the ancestral land, major chunk of  which Prakash Ram had usurped while Raghav Ram was young boy and had confined the later to a  small portion of it on the periphery. The land case was lying pending in the High court at  Srinagar which would come up for hearing after a lapse of six months or a year and was always  postponed for next dates.
Prakash Ram was like a selfish giant and never allowed anyone  to trespass his fortress. He would watch from the window of  top floor  of his house and  shriek like a wild cat whenever children tried to enter his orchard for fun. He would become mad and hurl all the lofty abuses on the children who even by chance happen to cross over  his orchard. Once I entered his garden for plucking  flowers. He sprang like a leopard from somewhere , caught hold of  me and started beating me voilently.    Luckily my father came out from Dispensary and gave him a bit of mind.
Raghav Ram on the other hand was a very social person. He used to visit us occasionally for a courtesy call. He played with us sometimes and used to take care of all the children living near by.
Once during our stay Prakash Ram fell seriously ill. There was no body to look after him. My father was the only Doctor available  in the whole area. Therefore, he attended him and even advised  his younger Brother Raghav Ram to look after him. Raghav Ram most meticulously followed the instructions of my father and helped his brother in the time of distress. Prakash Ram was pleased to see his brother Raghav Ram serving him day and night.  One day he confided to Raghav Ram  that he wanted to  leave  all this hatred and dispute and live a peaceful life henceforth , to which his younger brother most readily agreed. They even agreed to compromise mutually and abandon court case .
But only after Prakash Ram regained his health fully, he began to show his true colours and started behaving cunningly again. They  started living  in their seperate houses and left talking to each other once more.
In the mean time my father was transferred from the village  and we left the place for good.
It was after a long time, when I was a little grown up ,  I had a chance to visit the same village  again in connection with paying obiscance   to Mata Jwala Devi,  whose temple was located on a hillock thereat. It was a yearly Mela of Ashad chaturdashi. After paying my obiscance at  Mata,s shrine,  I thought of paying a visit to my old abode where I had spent few years of my childhood.
The hospital was shifted to some spacious building and some one had purchased it's old building . The hutment of Raghav Ram was in dilapidated condition and closed. I then ventured to peep through the orchard of Prakash Ram. There was hustle and bustle both  in the building and orchard. The people from far off places who had visited the shrine were preparing meals and resting all over the place. I could also see Raghav Ram helping the visitors most sincerely.
It took Raghav Ram a long time to recognise me because I was grown up now. Replying to my enquiry regarding Prakash Ram he said, "Prakash Ram  passed away few years back.
Actually when court decided the case in my favour, my brother felt very desperate and aghast and died the same night due to heart attack. Now being the lone surviving hear of  whole property  l am looking after it
After my death it will go to shrine board as per my registered will."
He further told me that men may come and men may  go but properties remain to dispute the relations for ever. I feel very sorry for my brother who guarded this property throughout his life and never compromised to part with inch of it and left the whole within a wink of eye.

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