A Shattering Experience

The Engineering College hostel had its own distinct identity.

Very often it looked like a ghostly galleon dry-docked in No-Man’s Land.

It was displaced and disjointed from the main habitat and populace by a beaten, mud track of almost a Kilometre. It was a track not oft trodden by most mortals.The forlorn mud track ran parallel to the National Highway 34 bisected by a canal which had no bridges and culverts across the hostel.

On the other side of the mud-track was barren land interspersed with trees, swamps, overgrown bushes and an abundance of stray dogs. This area thus was a haven for criminals, Illegal activities and hooch brewing.

The interests of these people were largely mutually exclusive to the interests of the hostellers and therefore the ecosystem ensured peaceful coexistence.

While the mud track was much avoided by civilians and locals the students never had an iota of fear while traversing this path, which they had to do daily to reach the hostel. There never had been any incident where a student had had any misfortune along this track.

At night this track looked like a ghostly ribbon of moonlight with patches of shadows of overgrown trees.

At the end of this track was the main gate of the hostel. A four-storey structure with rooms alongside each other creating in each floor a long corridor from one end to the other. Apart from the staircase and wash-room area, this corridor was lined by a half wall on one side and the rooms on the other side. It was thus like a large balcony stretching from one end to the other.The ends of the corridor in hostel parlance were typically called the wings.

There was such a corridor on each floor with wings at each end.

Each wing in each floor had wooden beds laid out where the “adda”(a gathering of people for casual discussions and chit chat ) would take place. It was here that students sat and smoked, drank, fought, debated and discussed topics ranging from the good looking daughter of the professor to nuclear science to every other topic under the sun. The wings were thus like the clubhouse of the hostel.

The corridor was, therefore, a place of hectic activity.It was here that the students often played cricket, badminton, football. Many a drunken brawl and fights took place on these corridors.It was here that students also practised running. Many health freaks also did their exercises on these corridors.

Very often you could see a drunk and tipsy student come out of the room and stutter and stumble along the corridor sometimes alone and sometimes cheered on by other students. At this corridor, many a time would be set up a temporary stage for skits and dramas and the audience would sit along the stairs with their beer bottles, cigarettes, grass etc and enjoy the skit.

The long straight expanse of the wing also allowed abuses and slangs to travel easily from one end to the another propagating the theory of sound waves.

These corridors were also used as dance floors with music blaring from the rooms and students dancing more in mayhem than in rhythm….

These corridors thus had many stories to tell. If only they could speak and yell, if only we could sleep on the corridor with our ears to the floor the corridors and its wings would unfold stories of decades.

This is about one such story.

It was a normal day.

However, there was excitement in the air since morning as a long drinking session was planned in the evening. While alcohol was commonly consumed at the hostel, parties of this type when the entire hostel was involved were few and far in between.

Such events happened when almost 80% of the drinking students agreed to participate and contribute.The teetotalers were in demand on such days as on their square shoulders lay the responsibility of managing a drunk gang.Also being students all ran on shoestring budgets and it was a common practice to mix the various varieties of drinks in one or more buckets and the so-called bartender of the day would then serve from these buckets into cups, glasses, earthen vessels, pots and/or any type of drinking container students could lay their hands to.

No money was called for as contribution but every student was told to bring a bottle of his choice of drink of a particular quantity. The bucket thus carried a medley of brands and liquors creating a huge secular melting pot.

The party started at around 9.00 PM. The bucket with the heady mixture was planted on the bed at the wing. Two bartenders including me were to serve the magic potion and students had already started lining up with their mugs, glasses, pots and containers of various shapes and sizes. The corridor was jam-packed as students collected their drinks and lined up all along the corridor. Once everyone had been served a peg the bell was sounded and was followed by a large chorus of cheers and the party was on its way.

With the progress of the clock deeper into the night the party gradually graduated to the next level when scattered conversations now gave way to a bit of dancing and singing and as the dancing picked up more and more students started joining in. The singing was out of tune and dancing was out of rhythm but none cared. The non-drinkers were getting busy as steady steps gave way to unsteadiness, the singing became a cacophony and once a while a loud chorus pierced the otherwise silent night. People faltering in their steps were being propped up against walls or were being seated on staircases but often fighting free to claim that they were not drunk.

Time kept ticking and everyone was oblivious to it. The party had crossed the midnight threshold as it was 1 AM. By that time quite a few had to be carried away to their rooms as they were drunk. Some of them who put up the drunken man’s fight were taken to the washroom and dunked ( this was a common word in the hostel for the therapy which meant pouring a bucket of cold water over a drunken guy to bring him back to his senses ) and towelled and sent to their rooms.

As the crowd thinned the group got more closeted.

 Antakshri was started. A great game being played by a drunken group added a wonderful twist to the game. Lyrics were either forgotten or made up, rules were forgotten and reminded, the process and sequence were lost and reorganized.A few more students gradually fell off and went to sleep on the corridor itself.

At around 5 AM with the hint of break of dawn, somebody suggested cricket on the corridor. The idea was immediately lapped up and a group of around 25 still left on the corridor cheered and agreed. Search for a bat proved futile so it was suggested that a T – Square be used as a bat. My room was near to where I was. I rushed in, grabbed my T Square and came out and amidst cheers befitting an opening batsman took to the so-called crease at the end of the corridor. While I stood, took my stance, stared bleary eyes at the bowler’s end and winked and winked again to get my vision clear, focused to keep myself steady, the umpire lifted his hands in the air and walked down to me.

Drunken fielders had lined up on either side of the corridor. The umpire called and told me that since a ball could not be found an empty beer bottle was being used as the ball and the umpire felt that it was his duty to inform me. I nodded my head, looked confident and told the umpire to go back and give me a middle stump guard. I was expecting the beer bottle to skid through on the cemented pitch and a middle stump guard would allow me to deflect it on to the leg side.

I saw the bowler running in, the beer bottle glistening in his hand from the first rays of the sun, I opened my eyes wide and focused. The bowler’s arms went up in the air and the ball was delivered. I looked at a delivery short of good length, went on the back foot, lifted my bat, heard the sharp swish of something racing across my right cheeks and ears followed by a loud bang and a shattering sound. I felt some fragments hitting me.

I was in a stupor. I remember the students rushing towards me, shaken out of their drunken reverie, lifting me and carrying me to the room and laying me on the bed. They were touching various parts of my body and asking me if I was hurt. I was dazed but felt I was in one piece and said so. Someone shouted he is fine and it’s okay and so on.

The beer bottle had skidded across the floor and shattered with a bang against the corridor end wall. Splinters of glass flying off in different directions dawning in the realization as to how foolish and dangerous the idea was. Anyone and most of all me could have been gravely injured.

I heard guys shouting at the guy who had given the idea of using the beer bottle as a ball and the guy defending back saying if his idea was foolish why had the others accepted it. A truce was reached with the realization that all were drunk and high and the mental faculties were not at their best when the decision was made.

Everybody slowly left to their rooms. I moved on the bed into what I thought was a comfortable sleeping position. My head was heavy and I was feeling dizzy. The drink or the cricket which was to blame I knew not. I folded my hands in prayer to thank the almighty and perhaps succumbed to slumber in that position.

I was taken to the police station and the policemen were all drinking beer from the bottle and laughing at me sarcastically, I was in the courtroom and the judge held out a beer bottle as evidence and asked me if this was the one and before I could reply he said cheers and started drinking, I was in front of the Principal of the college and before I could say anything he had slapped me hard making me wake up with a start.I looked at my wrist watch beside the pillow. It was 11.30 AM.

I got down from the bed, walked out of the room, into the corridor which was littered with empty bottles of various kinds, reached the staircase. My eyes were riveted at the Notice Board at the landing of the staircase which said:

NO STUDENT OF THIS HOSTEL IS ALLOWED TO PLAY CRICKET ON THE CORRIDORS WITH BOTTLES OF ANY KIND.

THOSE WHO ARE STILL NOT IN THEIR SENSES AND UNABLE TO UNDERSTAND THIS DIKTAT MAY GET IN TOUCH WITH THOSE WHO ARE.

By Order.

Mistaken Identity

Ghosal da pulled a chair in front of me and settled down on it with his big frame. He always made the chair creak and this was no exception.

He had a big and secretive smile on his face.

He suddenly leaned forward, leading to his big belly pushing against my desk, and whispered.

“Minakshi, the name is Minakshi,” he said. “The new girl in the procurement department. “Have you seen her?”

I did not look up at Ghosal da and in the same posture told him that I had a lot of work at the office and was really not interested in some girl who had joined some department in our office.

“Shut your work up” whispered Ghosal da a little irritatingly and with displeasure laced in his whisper.

“To become double from single you need to look up and around a bit”. he shot back.

Suddenly with an expression of “Oh God” Ghosal da made a mammoth leap from the chair he was sitting on, his belly swivelling and creating waves like a jelly.

“Come Madam Come, I heard you joined today”. I am Sandipan Ghosal and this is ……..”

The newcomer damsel stunned both of us and most of all Ghosal da by saying “ I know him, he is PM”. How are you PM?”

I felt all the oceans of the world swirling in my stomach, my vision appeared a bit blurred, my mind was blank and just as I was about to pinch myself I heard the sweet voice again.

“I am sorry, I should not disturb you like this during work”. “If it is fine with you, can we not have lunch together?”

“ I will drop by to call you.” “Ok, Take Care”.

I shook my head sideways first and then I shook my head up and down with the intention of saying yes while I watched Ghosal da looking at me with red eyes and I though muttering some of the choicest abuses meant for me albeit with bated breath.

Having settled down on my chair and having come out of the trance a bit I tried to dig into my memory. There was the frock wearing Rimi in our locality, there was Manisha at whom I used to look through the corner of my eye while going to college. I ran my memory thorough my locality, school, college, co commuters, sisters of friends and friends of sisters. I thought of all the girls I had met, tried to scribble their names in my mind, scanned through far and near relatives, even tried a google search but could not recall knowing this beautiful and attractive looking girl even remotely.

My reverie of almost three hours was suddenly shattered by the familiar sweet voice “Come, let’s go”.

I had been in this office for long 8 years but this was the first time that I reacted like the rat following the pied piper of Hamlin as I moved towards the canteen.

Enough was enough I decided. It was now time to act smart.

With this thought, some strength returned to me and I came out with the question in my mind.

“Look do you or rather do I know you”. “Am I supposed to know you”.

She looked at me directly with her beautiful kohl-lined eyes and said: “you should”.

I was now observing her.

She was smiling and I could see that when she smiled a lovely dimple came upon her cheeks. Her eyes were deep and attractive, she had lovely flowing long hairs, she had an elegant taste in terms of her dress sense and her makeup.

“ I had heard that you had looked at my photo for a full ten mins and had said No to even considering marriage with me” she had continued while I was observing her.

I had read of a word Flabbergasted in my childhood and today I could feel what it actually meant. I had said no to such a beauty? When? How?

Yes for matrimonial alliances I have been seeing photos of prospective brides but how did I say no to this damsel.

Minakshi kept talking.

“ Amaresh uncle who stays at Topsia is a very good friend of your father”. “ Is it not”. “Had he not gone to your house with the photo of a girl”.

I was agape. I could recall a dishevelled, darkish photo but… I said Yes.

“That was me” continued Minakshi.

“My parents were after my life for my marriage but I was not ready. I wanted another year for myself. My mother wanted to send a very nice picture of me but I had smartly changed it with my Aadhar Card Picture”

I was sitting stunned and bamboozled and staring at the girl of my dreams…

Story Credit: Whatsapp Forward

MEN ARE HUMANS TOO

Good Read.
Breaks myths and stereotypes.

Candles Online

A day such as International Men’s Day makes us stop on our steps and give a deep thought to men. Women do need that extra bit of attention because all the world over, be it in developed or developing nations, they are the oppressed lot – in different but many ways. However, men are calling out too – their voices being doused by the stereotypes and mutilated by the rigid societal frameworks that have defined gender roles.

The theme for International Men’s Day 2019 – ‘Making a difference for men and boys’ made me think whether any difference is needed for men and boys, and if so how can we (men and women) contribute towards it. Some stereotypes definitely need to be revisited to be modified.

#Men are supposed to be strong

What does ‘strong’ mean exactly? Well, in the context of men, ‘strong’ means physically, emotionally, financially and socially…

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Inertia of Motion

Local Train

This is a story of physics.

This is also a story of local train commute.

Many will and should relate to it.

Sealdah to Naihati and beyond is a lovely local train ride and I was almost a regular commuter during my days of stay at the town of Kancharapara.

The best option in those days for me of going to Kolkata ( Calcutta then )and back was by taking a local train from Kanchrapara and Sealdah and vice versa.

I always enjoyed these train journeys as they opened up a huge canvas in front of me. The multitude and diversity of people in the local trains always lured me.

My favourite position would always be making the journey standing at the door holding the center rod though many times in rush hours this was not possible.

The speeding of a local train and it’s slowing down as it approached a station always attracted me. Most of the time if you were a regular you would end up knowing many people and making friends. You would chat with them, play cards with them, gossip, etc, etc.

Even the vendors and hawkers would start getting to know you and if you were absent there would be inquiries the next day as to what happened and so on and so forth.

Every topic in the world found mention in these short journeys ranging from Nuclear Physics to cricket, football, street food, politics, governance, travel.

Stories, gossips, and tales you could revisit and restart the next day from where you left them.

The train journey almost engulfed you with its life and its stories.

 If you were a regular commuter you would also know the various stations en route, the changing landscape, where there would be maximum rush and where most people would get down, where the train would generally slow down, etc, etc, etc.

It was a Saturday morning when I boarded a local train from Sealdah.

I wanted to go to Jagaddal where I was to meet a friend.

Jagaddal was a relatively new station and not many local trains would stop there. The stations from Sealdah to Jagaddal in a sequence are as under:

Sealdah (Starting Station) 

  1. Bidhannagar (Earlier called Ultadanga and named after the Chief Minister Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy. The local train station for going to Salt Lake / Bidhan Nagar)
  2. Dum Dum (The area was home to the Dum Dum Arsenal, a British Royal Artillery armoury, where, in the early 1890s, Captain Neville Bertie-Clay developed a bullet with the jacket cut away at the tip to reveal its soft lead core (hollow-point bullet), known informally as a dum-dum, or more correctly as an expanding bullet. The previous name of Dumdum was “Domdoma”).
  3. Belgharia ( Once upon a time a big wholesale market for Fish, Jute, and vegetables )
  4. Agarpara
  5. Sodhpur (A station which always had huge rush and crowd. Also famous for the Khadi Prathistan where historic decisions with regard to freedom struggle were taken by Gandhiji and other great leaders like Subhas Chandra Bose.)
  6. Kharadha(The thousands of workers who had migrated here about a century ago from Bihar and Orissa form a large part of the populace and give it a distinctive colour )
  7. Titagarh(Famous for its railway wagon factory)
  8. Barrackpur (The station with a different architecture. Historically, the town was a military and administrative center under British rule and was the scene of several acts of rebellion against Britain during the 19th century. The oldest cantonment in India and the Police Training Academy in West Bengal are both located in Barrackpore.)
Barrackpore Railway Station

9. Palta
10. Icchapur (Famous for the ordnance factory)
11. Shyamnagar
(The name of Shyamngar came from a folk etymology of
Samne + Garh which in course of time changed to
Shyamnagar. During the rule of Raja Krishnachandra Roy of
Krishnanagar, the king gave the village called ‘Mulajore’
along with a title of RoyGunakar to his court
poet Bharatchandra Ray. In memory of Bharat Chandra Roy
Gunakar, there is an old and historic library named Bharat
Chandra Library. It is situated close to the railway
station. Relatives of Rabindranath Tagore had set up Mulajor
Kalibari at Shyamnagar ) 

Mulajor Kalibari

12. Jagaddal (This was where I was headed)

Jagaddal Railway Station

I boarded a “Kalyani Simanta” Local and gradually as the train moved on many known faces and known passengers started boarding the train at the various stations.

This being a Saturday the crowd was thinner and the “Adda” ( A typical Bengali term for discussions and chit-chats held in a group ) was better.

It was only during this “Adda” that I was told this train would not stop at Jagaddal and I would have to get down at an earlier or a later station and then move on to my destination on a different train. However, it also came to light that while the train passes the Jagaddal station it slows down considerably ( in respect to the people of Jagaddal an informal sort of arrangement till more trains were given halts at this relatively new station ) and one can alight from the running train without difficulty at all.

I was skeptical.

While I was a regular commuter and I had seen many people alighting from running trains I had never tried the same myself. I always thought that I neither had the technical know-how to do so nor had the courage to execute such a feat.

Seeing me diffident a large crowd gathered around me to encourage me and tell me that the matter was very simple.

I only had to manage the “ Inertia of Motion Concept”, alight from the moving train and instead of just landing plumb and halting I just needed to run along with the train for some time.

Ah…… Aha………

This was something I understood having been a physics student. “ Inertia of Motion”.

Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion. This includes changes to the object’s speed, direction, or state of rest. Inertia is also defined as the tendency of objects to keep moving in a straight line at a constant velocity.

Some examples of inertia of motion are as follows: 

  1. A person trying to get down from a running bus falls forward.
  2. The fruits fall off due to the inertia of motion along the direction of the wind.
  3. The swirling of milk in glass continues even after the stirring is stopped.

I knew this. 

With the concept clear in my mind, thanks to physics, I could nail it.

I thus had to land and keep running so as not to fall. So my body, when on the train, is moving and if I alighted and just stopped my body would tend to suddenly stop from a situation of motion and I would fall.

I knew this, I had to alight in a running position and keep running for some time to prevent myself from falling down.

Having understood the concept I had to execute it when the station came and the train slowed down.

I had good support from the people in the train and numerous examples of people who had pulled it off numerous times even at much higher speeds.

So when the station came, the train slowed down and I was ready.

Under cue from a co-passenger, I jumped amidst shouts of “parbi/parbe/parben” ( You can do it ) and kept running. 

I half-closed my eyes. I had alighted, I had not fallen and I should keep running.

 I was focussed and in a zone. I could hear cheers, claps, and shouts of parben parben, etc. I kept running and running.

Suddenly few hands ( helping hands ) reached out to me from the train. I was in a daze. In reflex, I grasped one of the hands and felt a few more palms clasping on to me.

I felt a sudden jerk, one of my hands was on the handle of the train at the door, I was running and with a final heave and amidst a lot of claps and cheers I was pulled and hauled up and as I landed and opened my eyes I was in the train again. 

The train was gradually speeding up and the Jagaddal station was passing away and I was on the train.

People were cheering, patting me and saying “ see I said you could do it”.

When everything mellowed down and I had got a seat and could reflect a little I realized what had happened.

Following the laws of physics, I had alighted and started running. The coach from where I had alighted saw me succeed and went back to their own ways.

I kept running keeping the laws of physics in mind and in doing so I had reached the coach ahead and people at that coach thought that I was trying to catch the train. 

They cheered up and hailed me and finally I was back in the same train but in a coach ahead of the coach I was previously in….

I am yet to understand whether studying physics was a good idea at all.

As they say, many a time, “Ignorance is bliss “

Superstition Gets In Your Way!

Interesting read. Superstition follows everyone in life maybe comes through generations or even gets picked up through coincidences during real life events.

Sparky Jen "No Beating Around the Bush Allowed!"

Of course superstition can get in your way!

Stevie Wonder sings a song called “Superstition,”Superstition-stevie-wonder and in it he warns us that if we believe in things that we don’t understand, we’ll end up suffering in and around those things.

I used to spend 5 fear-filled minutes or more trying to figure out what to do with my pocketbook other than placing it on the floor. purse_on_floorWhy? Because I was raised to believe that putting my purse on the floor is unlucky.

I wasn’t supposed to understand it, just do it, whether the “how” made sense to me or not.

Some people call this an “old-wives tale,” but it’s really an unsubstantiated superstition.

Would you cringe if I told you that I put my wet open umbrella in my bathtub?

Or have owned a black cat named “Midnight?”black-cat

What about me walking under the ladder to pick up a dust…

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Sacchu Da –The Officer

Indore in the late 80s and early 90s was a quaint little town.

It was not a village, nor was it semi urban, it was urban + so to say where the shades and effects of large cities of India were trickling in more in the construction and physical developmental activity rather in the minds of people. The young Indorean was thus a fusion of the past and the present. An amalgamation of old values and neo spirit and neo thoughts. He/She replacing the typical Indori Hindi with punctuations of English, developing a greater liking for the cinema than their previous generation, going to pubs and bars, getting into a different dress sense, buying jazzy motor bikes, looking to date and become outward, study in convents, eat in restaurants on week ends and talk of the world.

Into this interesting city with its Chatris and Sarafas was born Sacchu da. Well not much about his childhood and early life need be recounted here as we are going to fast forward to the era when he was all of 59 years of age ( just a year shy of his retirement ) and an officer in National Insurance.

He was the quintessential clerk turned officer by long practice and by dint of seniority. He was the amalgamation of the Indore of the past and the present. He was the cantilever bridge with one end of his support in the past during his clerical days and the other end in the present age of his so called officer-shipAt that time he was an Assistant Manager which meant that he had been an officer for at least 12 to 13 years and cherished the officer-ship a great deal in the process realizing  that officers need to behave and carry themselves in a different way as compared to clerks and so called other lesser mortals and had thus imbibed certain styles of behaviour and demeanour which Sacchu da thought to be officer likeFor example his hair would be neatly dyed black, his shoes would have a perfect shine, his shirt and pant would be well pressed and ironed, he would call for his tea only at pre-defined intervals and that too by ringing the bell on his table by thumping on it thrice, Bellrefuse to sign documents  which he thought were unworthy of an officer of his calibre, maintain a straight serious face,speak in English most of the time and carry his punctuality to the T,  dictate letters loudly ,largely to indicate his command over English,  instead of writing them ( which was the common practice then and very Un Officer like according to him ) thereby causing people to stop work and listen and suppress their laughter as his English did not really follow the queen’s lineage, pull out his fork and spoon to have his lunch alone during office hours, ask officer like questions on matter brought to his table, use a pencil to underline things which need not have been underlined, look up around him, once in a while,  with a condescending eye to the large group on non officers in front of him  and so on and so forth.

He always felt that one should look and behave like an officer. To the others , of course, he became a character straight out of a comic book and thus was the joke of the office and many a jokes about him circulated in office even leaning to his propensity of trying to make passes at young girls ( Because Sacchu da was an officer carrying a distinct pedigree, young at heart and thought he looked very young too ) and asking them out for dates. Of course the girls always thought of him as their uncle and played along adding to the fun, frolic and leg pulling that kept happening behind him and subtly in front of him.

He was fun for us too.

Himanshu, Neeraj,Vinay, Surender,Myself, Vijay, Ram, Terrence, Sandip would often talk about him and would often have a laugh or two at his expense. Himanshu many a times would go and sit with Sacchu da and engage him in English and thereby making a stage for us to watch a comedy in action. Sacchu da however liked us perhaps more because he thought we were Direct Officers and thereby to some extent up his alley and league. He had a subtle disdain for the clerical cadre and so by default we were in his so called good books.

Therefore when Sacchu Da’s daughter was to get married we – meaning Himanshu, Neeraj, Myself, Vinay , Sandip got invited. He gave the wedding card to Himanshu, neatly wrote the names of all of us on the envelope and requested us all to come for the wedding.

Now wedding those days for us ( we were all bachelors then ) was more about good food for free at somebody else’s expense and we looked at this marriage no differently. On the day of the marriage we decided to go together on our two wheelers. The plan was to have a nice meal, quickly eat and leave and catch up with some movie playing at the night show. Surender, a movie buff, was with us that day and though not invited he decided to join us and crash into the marriage as well ( not a very uncommon practice with us bachelors during those days ). On reaching the marriage venue we parked our scooters outside only to be told by Neeraj that courtsey demanded that we should all contribute , put the contribution in the envelope and hand over to the bride. Well this was met with some resistance because that would put a cost to our free food but Neeraj prevailed upon us and lo and behold we were rushing to the nearby stationery store to buy an envelope. That done there was a loud debate on how much to contribute beginning with Rs 10/-. It was eventually decided that we contribute Rs 250/- each ( Not too bad an amount in those days ). The amount of Rs 1250/- was neatly put in the envelope ( Surender was gate crashing so ethically no contribution was taken from him but only after extracting a promise from him that after the movie he would treat us to ice cream because he was about to get some good free food at our expense ). All neatly organised thus we entered the marriage venue. It was at once decided that we should immediately go to the dias/stage handover the envelope to the bride, quickly have food and disappear.

However to our dismay the bride and the groom were not at the dias / stage at that point of time as the marriage rituals had begun. We thus thought we should show our face to sacchu da ( as proof that we had come ) exchange some pleasantries with him, have our food and scamper. Sacchu was thus located , he was awfully busy though which made our task easier, he seemed happy to see us ( though we thought he was calculating how much we would have contributed ), urged us to enjoy the food ( we did not need this encouragement as we were self motivated to this end ). In turn we spoke highly about the arrangements and how beautiful the couple looked ( though we had not seen them yet ) and so on and immediately on disengagement from him rushed for the food. The food was lavish, with a good spread and felt sumptuous. Once done we quickly decided to go up to the stage, present the envelope and leave. On reaching the stage we observed that the couple were still not there.

In that moment an idea stuck us. we have had our food which was the objective, the night show movie would begin soon so why not just leave without the contribution. Such a consensus was easily achieved so we barged out of the marriage venue. Once outside each one was returned his contribution amidst joy and laughter and we happily went to the movie feeling proud of our accomplishment of the day.

The next day in office when we assembled and talked together we were feeling a bit guilty, had a bit of a discussion around it and finally came to the conclusion that Sacchu da could never find out that we had not contributed anything. There were so many people invited and non contribution of five people would hardly be noticed. In any case Sacchu da was on leave for the week.

We all got busy with our work as the week rolled by  Sacchu da and the marriage were forgotten and in fact we did not even realize when Sacchu da had joined back. In any case we had a feeling of guilt so we were probably generally avoiding any face to face contact with him too.

However on fine day Himanshu came around to each one of us in turns and told us to meet him outside the office. Not understanding what the issue was we rushed out of the office to meet Himanshau at a Pan Wallah across the road. It was then that Himanshu told us that Sacchu da had called him to thank him and us for attending the marriage. However Sacchu da with a blunt face had also asked Himanshu that while he was tallying and checking  the various gifts and contributions made by  various invitees during the marriage  he couldn’t find any gift or contribution from us which made him wonder whether our contribution/gift had got stolen/lost.

We were speechless and silent and asked Himanshu what he had replied to which Himanshu said that he quietly admitted that we had not made any contribution and without looking at Sacchu Da’s face had left from his seat.

Till date we accuse Himansu of telling the truth. He could have just said that we did contribute, might have got lost. Himanshu however feels that on that day, sitting in front of Sacchu da the officer the truth is the only thing he could think of……

I dont know whether Sacchu da had another son or daughter. I dont know when they got married. However, I am sure we were not invited….

We had not behaved like An Officer and A Gentleman and Sacchu da for sure would have taken serious offence to such an Un Officer like behaviour on our part.

Mother Oh Mother

My Mother never understood mathematics.

When I asked for one bread she gave me two.

When I asked for Rupees 20 to go out with friends she gave me 50.

My Mother never understood English.

When I told her “ I hate you”,

She loved me more.

My Mother was a liar.

When she did not eat she said she did.

Even when she was hungry she saved my favourite foods for me.

My Mother was Foolish.

Throughout her life she toiled in the kitchen

And kept bothering about our likes and dislikes.

My Mother was a Thief.

She stole money from my father’s wallet to give to me.

She pilfered my favourite eats from picnics she attended.

My Mother was Shameless.

I told her many times not to touch my things

But she kept organising my untidy and unkempt room.

My Mother had no common sense.

Whenever she saw food less on my plate she would fill it up.

Even after I ate a lot she thought I was hungry.

My Mother was careless.

She hid her pains and niggles and never took her medicines.

But she turned the world upside down calling doctors and hospitals even if I coughed a little.

My Mother was un smart.

She never wore costly dresses and never spent on herself.

She only thought of making me smart.

My Mother was selfish.

She could sacrifice everything on earth for her husband and her children.

My Mother was perhaps the worst person in the world.

That is why we children gave her so much trouble.

That is why we never cared for her much…

She was Mom just Mom.

(A Compilation and Translation from an unknown source)