Friday, December 11, 2015

MY SHORT STORY ' TREISH TAMOUK OR CHAAI PAANI "


                                                                            

                               

 KASHMIR  .....AUTUMN VISITS  JHELUM BANKS 


To this photo , I am adding  My Short story TREISH TAMOUK or  CHAAI- PAANI set in   Kashmir of 1985.This is a work of pure  fiction . The names and characters appearing in this story  have no connection  whatsoever with any   person  either  living or dead.


                              ( TREISH TAMOUK    OR CHAAI-PAANI)

Today Executive Engineer Bhat    Sahib  was in his office and had   to sign some Bills .   Every employee  in the Division   knew the importance  of   his  signatures . For them , it was simply  movement   of funds . And when funds move , they also leave a trail of  some happiness for  every connected employee . If Greater and in good measurement , this happiness  is also  known  as commission else it is simply “Chaai Paani” or what is known as “Treish Tamouk”  in kashmiri .   Accordingly unusual  Smiles were   visible on every face   .The Contractors , the  Stenographer   , the  Store keeper,  Senior Assistant Ghulam Hassan ,  Junior Engineers ,   Office  Accountant  Moti Lal   and  Peon Nazir Ahmed .  The Canteen Contractor had his own  reasons to be  happy . Tea was ordered like water.  Five cups ,Seven Cups , Nine cups and fifteen  cups .  Tray loads of  Biscuits , Cigarettes , Butter Toasts and Cold drinks moved to the  rooms from the  office canteen.

To proceed further with this story  , I need to tell something more  about three persons . Peon  Nazir Ahmed ,  Junior Assistant Farooq Ahmed and Driver Pal Singh.

 Office peon  Nazir Ahmed was almost illiterate but sharp and submissive . He   always kept the  official stamp  of  the Executive Engineer in his coat  pocket. For this,  he would   wear a  multi  pocket  coarse cotton coat even during summers . Once a document or some  paper was signed by  Bhat  Sahib , every one  looked for Nazir Ahmed   who would carefully bring the Stamp out of his coat Pocket  , Look up towards the person and   smilingly  say,.

“ Kyaa Saa Treish Tamoukk Chhunnaa “

“ Don’t you want to give me Something  for Tea and Cigarettes or Chaai Paani ”

Perhaps Bhat   Sahib  too  knew what  Peon Nazir was doing with his official stamp. But then he had some  purpose in ignoring and overlooking it.   And then he  also  knew that even if Nazir affixed  his official stamp on any paper , it  had no value   .The value addition accrued only if he had  put his signatures .

Nazir Ahmed  would always  rush to attend  Bell calls of  Bhat  Sahib . Apart from  carrying  files , Nazir  Ahmed was supposed to   filter  people inside Bhat  sahib’s room.

As and when some  A Class contractors like Ali Mohd Khanday , Noor ud Din Tantray , Mohd. Sultan Bhat, Bansi lal  Peshin or Sardar  Kikar Singh would come to the office , Nazir Ahmed  would show  due respect to them. He would stand up and offer his Salaam and Good wishes . For this simple act , a hundred rupee note would be thrust in his coat  pocket. Sometimes the   contractors would  ask him,

“ How is Sahib’s mood ? “

To this Nazir would generally say ,

“  Please go In . Do you need to ask such things ?“

 Now and then, Nazir  Ahmed   would also  visit  Bhat  Sahib’s  residence   and help his wife in   dusting off  furniture ,  buying  vegetables and groceries   from the market.     Quite often , Nazir Ahmed  would  also be sent to supervise the construction of the family’s  New house at Bagh e Mehtaab Colony. This arrangement brought some domestic  comfort to Bhat  Sahib  and made him free from some of his routine family duties .
Nazir Ahmed had also  managed to get his step brother appointed as daily wager in the Division . This step brother  actually served as domestic help in the house  of Assistant Engineer of the Sub Division.


 The other person worth mentioning is junior Assistant Farooq Ahmed . Farooq  was appointed on compassionate grounds after his father died in a road accident . He was studying  in S P college  when the tragedy struck the family. Initially  he found himself a misfit in the office.  He disliked peon Nazir Ahmed  and the Storekeeper. He knew what Nazir Ahmed  did with  the official  stamp of  the  Executive Engineer . He also knew  about an instance when  the storekeeper had sold  half a  Truckload  of cement  meant for the Government  store  to some outsiders in connivance with the concerned Junior Engineer .  He also  disliked the way some employees   always demanded “CHAAI  PAANI “ or “ Teish Tamouk “ from  contractors as and when they visited the office .    But then he respected office Accountant  Moti lal  whom he never saw  asking for money from the contractors . Moti lal would bring his  tea in  a Thermos Flask.  To Farooq Ahmed  , Moti Lal had  told  that the   canteen tea was only  “Treish  Tamouk” or “ CHAAI   PAANI “ as the payments were made by Contractors . He also taught Farooq the Art of drafting letters . Quite often he would advise Farooq to  complete his Graduation  as private candidate  and then  try  for some better job in Banks , Insurance Companies , AG’s office  or Post Office  .  Office Accountant Moti Lal was skilled in handling Audit Parties from AG’s office. His written  communication skills, especially letter drafting,  earned him a  respectable  place in the office  . In fact he had  a ready reply for any Audit Para  or objection . Had  Moti Lal  not provided a fatherly support to Farooq  in the office , he would have left the job. But then Farooq also knew that he had no other  alternative  and leaving this  job would mean starvation for his family .

  Driver Pal Singh is the third person whom I want to introduce to you.  He was official driver of Bhat sahib . Unless Bhat sahib had to proceed on some Tour or go to Direction office , Pal  Singh  would be  busy with family work of Bhat sahib. Sometimes dropping children to school. Sometimes bringing them back from their school. Sometimes carrying Mrs Bhat to market for shopping . Sometimes taking Mrs Bhat to her parental home . Some times taking her to  relations and  quite often bringing and dropping guests in the Bhat household. That made him quite popular with most of the relations of Bhat sahib.

When  there was no work in Bhat Sahib’s house  ,   Pal singh would sit in the office and complete the official  Log Book  of the vehicle or go to work shop for repairs  of the  official vehicle   .   On this Log Book work of Pal Singh , Senior Assistant Ghulam Hassan and Storekeeper would comment ,

“ Pal Singh , You have also to die one day  . Remember that also. “

In fact Senior Assistant Ghulam Hassan had once  seen Pal Singh selling a Gallon full of  Petrol   to the office  Canteen contractor . It was also believed by some employees in the office that Canteen Contractor was regularly  buying Petrol from Pal Singh  for his second hand scooter .

Senior Assistant Ghulam Hassan and the store keeper would generally  gossip with Pal Singh  and   say,

“  Pal Singh you are a  perfect   Government Driver .  You can siphon away   petrol from even moving vehicles .  Why do you always  keep that 3 feet long rubber pipe and the plastic Mug in your  vehicle? Where from  have  you   managed your  fake date of Birth certificate .  You do not   look like a young boy of 26 years .  If you go to some Doctor  , He will  easily prove    that your   Biological age is  above 40 years .  Every body from  this office shall  have retired and  died but you  shall be still  serving and siphoning Petrol from Newer and Newer Models of  Government Vehicles .”


Pal Singh was a cool driver who   always cared for the safety of the  people he was carrying in the vehicle . He was also friendly and smiling that made him an affable and liked individual .Inspite of what senior Assistant Ghulam Hassan were saying about Pal Singh , he had kept the official vehicle in perfect condition.



 Inside the  office , it appeared that Every one  worked  for commission .  Commission for Allotment of  work. Commission for identification of work on Ground ( Nishaan Dehi )  . Commission for preparation of Bills , Commission  for  supervising work  , Commission payable   to JE , Commission payable  to AE , Commission  payable  to  Executive Engineer . No one in the office  knew how Superintending  Engineer, Chief Engineer and the Minister concerned got their commissions.  Employees  would gossip  that   the Executive Engineer himself  paid the commission to   Superintending Engineer who in turn paid it to  Chief Engineer though none had seen it. Some said that Contractors directly paid commission to Superintending Engineer . Some employees were also  curious  to know  how and what amount the  Chief engineer actually paid to the Minister . The  contractors also  paid  commission at the  treasury for  Encashment of  their  bills. 

 This Commission  is like Tea ,  Drinking Water or  Cigarette. At any point of time most  of us have   offered it to others  and some of us have surely  accepted it as well .  Let me forget the receivers for a moment but surely you can not live without offering it to others  . Nothing will move without it. .  If unsettled  commission withholds bill of a contractor  , it gets  released by  Commission only whatever  argument the contractor may put forth . And most of the contractors had learnt to adjust with this commission.
 .
This commission business had unleashed a grand secularism , tolerance and  compatibility amongst employees   in offices  which even the leaders  had failed to bring forth anywhere  in the society outside  .  This “Commission “ by nature was  possibly irreligious as it changed hands and owners . It’s   omnipresent and omnipotent quality makes  it    truly  Secular . Its handlers can  be Hindus , Muslims ,  Sikhs , Buddhists and Christians  who receive or  pass it on to others  without an iota of   ill will .For a section of society , it has become the  Vital    Oxygen or  Morning Fresh air to be inhaled deep for healthy lungs and proper  Blood circulation.  Keep your doors and windows shut  , locked and impenetrable, it shall still make a forced  entry  from some crack ,chink or create and  Invent one  if it does not exist

 Inside the office one would hear a different language and codes .Words like Measurement Book , Tender,  Pooling , Site inspection ,WDC Bill ,  Audit Party, Drawing Disbursing  ,Direction Office , Original  work , Earth work , Culvert , Breast wall, Retaining wall, Voucher ,SRO, Rate Schedule  and Treasury  came up  repeatedly during any official discussion .  The employees often discussed that the Boss made some coded entries  in his diary while allotting work to contractors .The stenographer had seen the Boss writing CP and NCP in his diary. He had also seen the pages of the diary where Bhat sahib would   enter date , name of the contractor , amount of work and then write CP or NCP.   The Store keeper ,Senior Assistant     had heard about CP and NCP  entries in the diary of Bhat  sahib but had no knowledge about  what these words   actually meant.  They thought that office Accountant  Moti Lal  knew what CP or NCP meant but had been  cleverly avoiding any discussion on the subject. And senior assistant Ghulam Hassan would often  say to the  store keeper,

“ This  Moti lal needs  darkness to accept “Treish Tamouk “ or Chaai Pani . He is a Shrewd man but I respect him for his  gentle and helpful  nature. “

  And one day   the store keeper said   that he had cracked the coded words of Bhat sahib. According to him contractors were connected with various political parties and the  Department  had to follow the system of obliging politicians  .

 “CP is Communist Party   ” said  the Store keeper .

“ Where are Communists in Kashmir ? If they are they have no role to play in this tender Business  and Engineering Divisions . I think  CP is for  Congress Party   and NCP is for  National Conference Party   . What do you say store keeper sahib ? ”said  Ghulam Hassan senior Assistant .

At this point the store keeper dug out two cigarettes  from his pocket and offered one  to   Ghulam Hassan before putting one under his lips .

“ That is most likely what it is . You are a genius Hassan Sahib ”said the store keeper.

Farooq too would hear these discussions   but never engaged himself in this gossip . Office Accountant  Moti lal too avoided any discussion on this issue.


It was a practice in the office that every Friday the staff would go out for Prayers from 1 PM to 1.30 PM to a nearby mosque.  So   Bhat Sahib  , Senior Assistant Ghulam Hassan , Store keeper,   and   Peon Nazir Ahmed  and stenographer  would  leave the office on Fridays  .Else on all other days no one usually went out or observed any Lunch timings or Mid day  break from routine office work. Accountant Moti lal  Stayed in the office   . Though  Farooq despised  the company of  Senior Assistant Ghulam Hassan  , Store keeper and Nazir  Ahmed yet he had to join them  on all Fridays as Moti lal would ensure that  Farooq also went for Friday prayers .

“ You must join Friday prayers . God is always with you and shall  help you to shoulder your family  responsibilities . ”  Moti lal would often advise Farooq.

And one Friday the store keeper suggested to senior Assistant  Ghulam Hassan  for a change of the  Mosque   .Nazir  Ahmed had told them about some Non Kashmiri Imam at  another mosque who  read  impressive Khutba on social evils  after the prayers . 

Accordingly, That Friday ,  all of them went to the new mosque without any intimation to    Farooq Ahmed .  Having failed to locate  the store Keeper or the Stenographer  or   the Senior Assistant or even  Nazir Ahmed  in the mosque where they would normally go for Friday prayers  ,  Farooq returned to office early that day without attending  his prayers  . Knowing   that Moti Lal would not like his returning without  prayers , Farooq Ahmed  tiptoed to Moti lal’s room and looked for him from the window. To is surprise he saw the A Class Contractor Ali  Mohd Khanday sitting before Moti lal.

Ali Mohd  Khanday would sometimes come in his  car and quite often he would be seen coming in Matadors or Public Transport . That was usual with contractors in Kashmir .  Since Payments  were made to  them at irregular intervals , their spending and living style also turned  irregular. The Storekeeper , Senior Assistant Ghulam Hassan  , Stenographer and Nazir believed that   Ali  Mohd Khanday was  a rich man  whom they  nicknamed as  Lakhpati  . Certainly he had built a new house at Chhanapora Bye pass   but that was still  incomplete as his bills were pending in the Division. The second hand ambassador car purchased by him had been sold  to ease his liquidity crisis on account of non settlement of his  work completion bills . He had  also borrowed some money from a Bank at Clean overdraft Interest rates and the  recovery notices from the Bank had started coming to his residence.  He was in deep financial crisis .

“ I have discussed with Bhat   sahib about my pending  bills .Please  put up and draw at least two  WDC bill tomorrow . You know I need money badly. Please take personal interest and   get my bills cleared tomorrow. I forgot to bring the Walnuts this time. Next week I am going to Shopian and shall bring the special variety for Shivratri . Till then keep this  Please. This is a small packet of  New Currency Notes. You may need it for Shivratri. ” said Ali Mohd Khanday to Moti lal.

Moti lal looked at the new ten rupee notes   packet . He remembered how his wife Sarla ji    had  been demanding new currency notes  for ensuing Shivratri  . He too wanted to give new ten rupee notes  as KHARACH ( Pocket Money ) to his own children on  auspicious Shivratri day .

“ How happy Sarla ji  will be if I give this packet to her ?”

He immediately placed the ten rupee notes packet in his pocket and assured Ali Mohd Khanday that he shall do the needful on suggested lines .

Farooq Ahmed  had been listening to this conversation  from the window silently.  He felt Puzzled .Strange ideas came to his mind .

“ Is he the same Moti lal who talks of integrity and honesty ?  ”
“This office is a gang of thieves .”
“ At least I shall not be like them ”
“What do  these people think about themselves ? They think I do not know what is NC or NCP. ” and then he suddenly cried

“   I am clear . Wait you thieves . Wait You Mr Bhat  . Wait you Mr. Moti lal . Here I come .”

He now  rushed to Executive Engineer’s room and  Opened the table drawer which was unlocked . Taking  out  Bhat  sahib’s  diary  and  pen , he prefixed   alphabet N to CP written on some pages . In a fit of his anger ,  everything in Bhat sahib’s  diary was now NCP.
Listening to Farooq’s cry,  both Ali Mohd  Khanday and Moti lal came out of the room and saw him rushing towards the road.

  For about a week thereafter , no one knew  the whereabouts of  Farooq. He  never   reported to the office for his duties   . When Farooq did not turn up,   Moti lal sent  Peon Nazir  to his residence where Farooq’s mother informed him that the boy had fallen a  victim to some   Black Magic (Tassaruff) done by some relatives. She suspected her traditional rival Mokhta  (her late husband’s sister) as having brought this misery to her family.   When Peon Nazir   met   Farooq  he found him  Dumb  disoriented and lost .

“He does not Talk. Some one has stolen his speech. That day when he returned from his office he cried loudly and spoke in English. We were all terrified  with his behavior. He has not been eating since then. He keeps going up and down these staircases and rarely sleeps. Do you know any good Peer  sahib ? Help me out Brother . This  widow is in grave trouble . ” Farooq’s Mother  said   to Peon  Nazir   .

And then Ali Mohd  Khanday also was not seen for about a week . When he visited the office he met Moti lal and informed  him that he had to go to Jammu  to meet the minister as  the name of his daughter   did not figure in the list of teachers cleared by government . .He sought to know about his bills and Moti lal advised him to meet Bhat  sahib directly.

“ Jenab. My bills are pending . I need money badly .I have to make various  payments  . I am in grave financial trouble ” said Ali Mohd Khanday to Executive Engineer .

“ When did I say that bills shall not be cleared ?” said Executive Engineer  Bhat  sahib

“What is the delay then ? I have paid the full commission demanded by you .” said Ali Mohd. Khanday.

“ Hold on ! Do you think I tell lies ? Look !  These Papers speak. See against your bills I have written NCP ”said Bhat  sahib.

“ But that day you wrote CP. If I pay the entire commission  how it can be noted  as  NCP| or  No Commission  Paid . It was CP or  Commission Paid previously . How on earth shall I pay rupees 65000/= more ? Bhat sahib i do not   have a hundred rupee note in my pocket.” Said Ali Mohd Khanday.

“ Then why have you come here ? ” said Bhat sahib.

After this discussion , Ali Mohd Khanday kept silent but his  face turned red. He went to the  toilet of Bhat sahib’s room. When he came out he was without his shoes. Possibly he had kept the shoes inside the toilet. He picked up the water glass from Bhat   sahib’s table and threw it on ground .  Opening the  door of Bhat  sahib’s room violently  he rushed  down stairs . There he removed his trousers and threw them on ground and laughed loudly.  Again he Went up the office stairs  and came rushing down. He tore open his shirt  after he  drank water from the public tap on the road.

When driver  Pal Singh approached him and tried to  persuade him to come upstairs , he violently pushed him aside  crying,

 “  Sher e kashmir Ka Kyaa Irshaad . Hindu, Muslim  Sikh Ittehaad .CP Murdabad  .NCP Murdabad . Treasury Bill Hai Hai . Teacher list Hai Hai. All Jammu And Kashmir   Zindabad  .Aadhi Roti Khaayegaa  Gandhi Ji Ko Laayegaa. Gandhi ji  Zindabaad .  ”

He kept looking towards the sky and repeating these lines.

From the Balcony of the office building  , Moti Lal , Stenographer , Store keeper   and Senior Assistant Ghulam Hassan  looked at each other in surprise and  Nazir Ahmed  silently kept Executive Engineer’s  Stamp back in his coat pocket.


( Autar Mota )

                                    
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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

3 comments:

  1. never ever in my worst nightmares i imagine Biography dhoondtey huwey i wil find some good piece of work.. I love it.. Read it two times.. Reading fictious stories bt inspiring ones is my fav hobby..

    ReplyDelete
  2. never ever in my worst nightmares i imagine Biography dhoondtey huwey i wil find some good piece of work.. I love it.. Read it two times.. Reading fictious stories bt inspiring ones is my fav hobby..

    ReplyDelete