Saturday, September 30, 2017


                                                      THE PUSH INTO THE RIVER 

‘Listen attentively. I am sending my family to a safer place as I feel insecure living in this part of the city with my family. There is a threat to my life because of my official duties. I have been advised to shift to a secured zone immediately and live in an atmosphere of security. I shall not be living in this house any more. I want you to be the caretaker of this house till things normalize. You need not spend the nights in this house, but do come here every day and see to it that this lawn is maintained and that everything is okay. 
Also, look for the letters from the post office and the courier service. I am expecting some journals and letters. If any such mail is delivered, give me a ring from the landline telephone which is inside. Keep these keys with you. I will retain one set of keys with me. And I shall pay you one thousand and five hundred rupees a month for this job. Fine!’
Okay, sir. Don’t worry. It is my responsibility now,’ said the caretaker.
I had the last look at my house before asking my driver to move. I had shifted to the new security zone created for the government officials.

One lazy Sunday afternoon, while I was sitting in the lawn of my quarters and reading a newspaper, the guards on duty informed me that someone wanted to see me. I desired to know the identity of the person and the purpose of his visit. I was informed that the person was the 
caretaker of my house and that he had some private work with me.

‘Is everything fine? Sit down and tell me what brings you here this moment.’
 ‘Sir, your house is fine. No worry on that front. A tragedy struck me.’
‘What happened? What tragedy?’
 ‘Sir, my son drowned in the river. He was a young boy of 
14 years. I am ruined.’
‘That is a real tragedy. I can understand your feelings. So sad!’
I dug out two five hundred rupee notes from my pocket and handed them over to the caretaker. 

‘Keep this small amount. This is nothing. My sympathies are with you. Have courage and faith. Everything will be fine.’ 
He accepted the money reluctantly but added, ‘Sir, I want to say something. I need help. I was unwilling to come to you but many people told me that I should seek your help. “
‘What help? Please tell me.’
 ‘Sir! Sir! it looks so odd but then you know my poverty. ’
‘Tell me plainly.’
‘Sir, I was told by many people that you can arrange some government assistance for me. Many people are getting compensation, Monetary assistance and government help. That is why I came to you.’
‘Look here, I don’t tell lies on such serious and tragic occasions. Since the boy fell into the river accidentally, seeking government relief or compensation has neither moral nor legal justification. Who told you all this?’
I dug out two more five hundred rupee notes from my pocket and handed them over to him. He got up to leave.
‘Sir, please keep one thing in mind. I am a poor man.’
The sun had hidden in clouds that had been gathering up over the sky. There appeared a sudden change in the weather. I went inside and asked the servant to prepare a cup of tea.

After that day, the caretaker kept visiting my office repeatedly. Sometimes he stepped inside the office room; sometimes he met me at the entry gate and sometimes he stopped my driver when I was about to leave for my duties. His visits not only annoyed but disturbed me as well. 

‘He is determined to seek something of great value from me. I will refer him to some other person who can easily say a convincing and firm ‘NO’ to him,’ I thought.
I would meet officers during our weekly review meetings. Most of us were friendly and helpful to each other as we faced common problems in turbulent days. I shared this problem with one top officer connected with the implementation of law and order in the insurgency ravaged . To my surprise, the caretaker stopped visiting me. And whenever he telephoned me, he did not mention his son’s drowning. As days passed, I forgot the issue altogether.

One day while I was returning from the office, I saw the caretaker driving a new motor bicycle. Surprised, I asked my driver as to whether he had seen who was driving the motor bicycle. 
‘Sir, why do you test me? You know it all. You have done it.’
‘What have I done?’ 
‘He got compensation in lieu of the drowning incident of his son. It was through your intervention that his compensation case was registered. He got a sum of rupees 2 lakh recently. Didn’t he tell you all this?’
His words shocked and surprised me. I had never said so to any officer nor recommended any compensation for him. In my heart, I also felt a little happy that the tragedy which I tried to compensate by mere two thousand rupees was now adequately compensated. But what intrigued me was how my name got linked with it. I was seriously puzzled.
As days passed I forgot this incident. Uncertainty of  life ruled our minds like a dictator those days. There were many other pressing things to remember like the family affairs, welfare of ailing parents, education of children , official duties and  meeting schedules. I had forgotten my house as well. The caretaker’s issue crept in when he visited or telephoned me. 

And one day the guards outside my quarters informed me that I had a guest. Since it was the caretaker of my house, I asked the security guards to let him in. This time he had come in a three wheeler ( auto rickshaw ) and brought a young boy with him. This young boy was carried inside with the help of the auto rickshaw driver and was made to sit on a chair. Once the boy was comfortable, the auto rickshaw  driver left the quarters and waited outside on the road. 

‘Sir, he is my second son. This poor boy is polio-stricken. He cannot walk. Nor can he use his hands. Sir, this is my biggest worry in life. I shall not be always there for him. He needs to live in this world and for that, he needs to earn something.’
‘I agree with all what you say. I am distressed to find that this young boy can neither use his hands nor legs. Very unfortunate!’

I took out three-five hundred rupee notes from my wallet and said:-

‘Keep this money. This is for the boy. I am sorry. Nothing can be done by me in this case. And please let me know as to what you think about me. I do not run this government. I have no powers to employ people. And then who told you to put this boy to discomfort by carrying him to this place? See, he cannot sit comfortably on that chair. And after all, if he seeks employment, he should be able to work. He cannot walk. He cannot stand on his legs. He cannot use his hands. How do you expect me to arrange a job for him? Who is the person who misguides you?’
Holding the three currency notes on his hand, the caretaker looked towards me and said:-

‘Sir, anything can be done if you put a word. Many people go to the office and sit. They don’t work at all. After finishing sitting in the chair there they come back. Nowadays the final aim is to get a monthly salary. Who cares what you do in the office? Sir, please help this poor man.’ 
‘I am sorry. I can do nothing. And listen, please do not take him to other officers who happen to be my friends. Don’t ever mention my name  at any place.’

The caretaker called the auto rickshaw  driver inside and sought his help to carry the boy back into the vehicle. I walked  up to the door to see him off. After making the boy sit in the vehicle, he turned to me and said:
 ‘Sir! Sir! Keep this poor man in mind. God shall keep your family happy.’


‘How will he live when I am gone? Please think about that, sir.’

‘I have told you very clearly. I shall not promise what I am not capable of doing. You must listen to it once for all.’
The caretaker came a little closer to me and said:
 ‘Okay, sir. Now tell me please….. in case I  push this boy too into the river, shall I get your help in another compensation case? I am a poor man. Don’t misunderstand me.”

 I went into my room. While drawing the window curtains, I thought of going to the bed. I wanted to slip into a quilt and sleep in the darkness of the room. Outside, it looked like an evening with dark clouds all over the sky.

( Avtar Mota )

This is a work of pure fiction. Any resemblance with any person, group or society or incident is a mere coincidence.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.