The Comet - Gajendra Thakur

The Comet - Gajendra Thakur
English Translation of Gajendra Thakur's Maithili Novel Sahasrabadhani translated into English by Smt. Jyoti Jha Chaudhary

SahasraBarhani: The Comet

“Once Kalit was crawling in the courtyard and after crossing the courtyard when he found pebbles he started crawling by lifting his knees up”, recalled his wife.

“One day I found him trying to stand on window by holding the wall. I decided to leave him trying. He couldn’t succeed two times and fell down on the bed. His hands couldn’t reach the windows but in his third attempt he jumped high enough to get a grip in widow and stood straight”, Jhingur Babu remembered.
“I was counting something one day, suddenly a sound of oo followed when I said two. I repeated the word and my sound was followed by that sound again then I realised that Kalit was copying me.”

“One day after returning from field, I took bathe and ate lunch, and then I cleared my throat by making some sound. Kalit copied the same sound. When I looked back I found him playing with ball. I repeated my sound and he again copied me. I didn’t tell him anything but I understood that he is copying me. Everyone in guest hall started laughing. They started making such sound and Kalit didn’t stop copying them each time in his unique style.

The boy whom Jhingur Babu had seen as a newborn infant smiling while sleeping, then crawling and then toddling is now being educated. He remembered how the baby Kalit was bumping like a frog while learning how to crawl. That memory of his son brought a smile in his face. His wife asked him about the reason of that smile. After being failed in hiding the reason he told everything to his wife. That was enough reason to make the couple exploring the past, the childhood of their son.

Year 1885: A boy was born in Jhingur Thakur’s house.

It was the same year when an historical event of formation of Congress Party was to be held later on. British rule could be said successful in establishing itself strongly in India. It was the period when the Indian rulers started feeling proud of being associated with British. Congress was noticeable in those days because of its disturbing attitude in the field of education. Ultimately, Congress had got recognition as assurer of undisturbed future to an Indian government compromising its freedom to British rule. To change its image of acceptor of the on going interference rather dominance of British rule, the Congress was to immerge as a revolutionary reformer. However, Sanskrit was dominating language but it was impossible to get a government job without learning English. The scope of government jobs rendered by Indians were related as well as limited to collecting money from Indian rulers. And, a post called Kirani Babu occupied by British people also immerged later on.

In such social condition the boy was kept away from the language of Sanskrit. English was not in use in Maithil families and that is why they were one generation backward in those days. But Jhingur Babu arranged a teacher from Kolkata to educate his son. A Bengali Teacher taught the boy English in Darbhanga afterwards. It was the effect of such education that Kalit became an expert orator with enchanting wittiness.

“How old was he at that time- nine or ten months”

“And what I told you, at that time he must be six or seven months old”, said his wife.

She was speaking to him directly when only two of them were having their private conversation; she was talking in different way in front in front of her in-laws or other person. Jhingur Babu was also not different from her and he was also talking in third person in presence of others. Everything remains normal in privacy.

Jhingur Babu smiled again, vowed to keep Kalit out from this culture, afterall he should realise that his father is not of a pre-modern type.

Wife again questioned about his laughter but he didn’t disclose anything this time and went to outside. Environment of outside was warm with the discussion of maintenance of wrestling spot. The game of wrestling in morning was really enjoyable. Children and youths of all ages used to gather in the morning. The ground of wrestling place was as soft as a mattress. It was made by ploughing and filtering the soil. Jhingur Babu was missing his son not finding him in the group of other children. People used to console him by reminding how important the study of his son was because of what he is apart from him. Earlier there was only one wrestling loving Thakur family in the village that came from Akkour years ago. Now there are five such families. The Thakurs have now got an equal share in the distribution of fish of dakhi pond, equivalent to a tola of village. Now there are eight families participating in wrestling considering children belonging to the same age group of Kalit. These boys had already achieved the dignity of being recognised as wrestlers.

A messenger from village Akaur reached with a message written in Tirhuta on a bhojpatra. After giving one small bucketful of water and a lota to the messenger Jhingur Babu read the letter. It was probably an invitation for sacred thread ceremony called upanayan sanskaar.

“Don’t forget to visit the fair of Paratapur”, He insisted to the messenger. He felt a true affection towards the relative related to the old generations of his family through mool and gotra. He started reading letter in his courtyard:

Respected Jhingur Babu! As adorable as Lord Vishnu! Please accept Gulab’s millions pranaam (great respect) to your sacred feet. Everything is fine here. I am very pleased to announce the sacred thread ceremony of my two sons – Shree Ganesh and Shree Chandramohan. Your great grandfather and my great grandfather were classmates. My grandfather had instructed me to be in touch with people of same gotra. Any news whether it is good news or sad news should be exchanged within our villages otherwise ignorance of maintenance of ashauch may prove harmful for both of us in future. At present I would like to request presence of five of you respected thakurs in this auspicious ceremony. You are supposed to be aacharya of my elder son. The area around Partapur was visited by you so lots of people are curious to talk to you. Your arrival on the first Monday of the next month will assure the flawless continuation of all preparation. The ceremony will be started from the following Wednesday. Good bye.

The sabhagachhi- the famous meeting place used to be under dense woods of Partapur at the bank of the river Balan. The river of Balaan was very deep and calm. Once a huge tree from Himalayas fell into it and blocked its way. The river was split into two parts. In this way a new river Kamala was born. The river of Balaan is flowing towards Jhanjharpur and Kamala is directed towards Maihath, Narua and Gariyar. Balan is very deep and clear. No sand peep through it; on the contrary, Kamala is not so deep but very wavy and very destructive. Sand and water started disturbing the land adjacent to this river in flood. Depth of Balan is same throughout the year. Crossing it without boat is not possible even in summer. But, Kamala is shallow enough to be crossed by pedestrians in summer. The previous spot of sabhagachhi in Partapur was destroyed by one of such destructive floods by Kamala and the sabhagachi place was shifted to the village of Saurath. But, in the age of Jhingur Babu, Partapur used to be the centre of panchkoshi- the area that conserves the authentic Mithila culture. Although Sabhagachi was shifted to Saurath later on, Partapur remained as the centre of panchkoshi.

“Kalit is returning on day after tomorrow, I will take him to Akaur. The poor boy! He has been apart from family for a long time. I will take him to his maternal uncle’s place and my sister’s place this time.” Jhingur Babu thought.

As per plan both father and son reached Akaur. Jhingur Babu didn’t find this himself a stranger in this village in any respect. The usual tradition of intellectual discussion was going on in gathering of scholars there too. The topic was the British rule and Indian Army structure. Being a part of army Mangaru Babu had witnessed many wars in his red uniform. He started describing his experience of accompanying Sir Charles Napier in the British 1867-68 expedition to Abyssinia. He also described how lack of time was resulted in faded uniform in lieu of red uniform to the soldiers in the second war of Afghanistan. The same uniform became famous as khaki uniform after that. The Enfield rifles used in 1857 revolt of Indians struggling for freedom are replaced by bigger snider rifles in 1887. Mangaru Babu also talked about Congress. On the other hand Jhingur Babu became busy in listing and estimating things for coming feast. Kalit too found companions to play with. Fannu Babu from Raje village was also present among those scholars. His sister and brother-in-law were living in Ekkour so he used to visit the village quite frequently. He had not seen Kalit in that village earlier. He became curious about Kalit. When Fannu Babu came to know that Kalit was Jhingur Babu’s son he went to him. There he came to know that getting permanent employment in Jamindari, Kalit got the authority to collect cess in Mithila region on behalf of Darbhanga Raja and he was to go to Katihar for that work. Meanwhile, Kalit had also completed study of Farsi and English. As long as Kalit’s marriage was concerned, Fannu Babu was also looking for an appropriate groom for his daughter. Then it was agreed that Fannu Babu would visit Partapur Sabhagachi and give Jhingur Babu a chance to host him. But as soon as that marriage proposal was known relatives of Jhingur Babu they forced him to finally fix the marriage and complete the formality of Siddhant in Bharam. He was suspecting his wife’s refusal but, against his anticipation, his wife was filled with ecstasy when she heard that. All her worries, that had been for last four days, seemed to be disappeared at once.

There were only two options of transportation- walking of feet or bullock cart. The barat started its auspicious journey- Groom in a mahfa, young people on feet and other elders on bullock cart. The group of servants was following them. A warm welcome was performed in arrival of barat at the door by the people from bride-groom side. As soon as they reached the bride-groom’s house a barber washed their feet; perfume was spread; posies were presented; and snacks were served. And then chatting was started - intellectual as well as humorous. The courtyard was venue for all rituals of marriage and the guest-area in outside place of social meeting. The conversation of barat was interrupted by some querries like “where is jewellery?”, “who will present gift to bride at the time of ghoonghat”, and “where is sari for ghoonghat?” every now and then. In this way, the environment of courtyard as well as the environment of outside of the house was filled with joy till 5 o’clock of the morning. The sacred thread of marriage was tied on the couple’s arms that remained for four days. After that marriage was completed. After few days passed, Jhingur Babu informed the auspicious day and Kalit returned to his parent’s place from in-law’s house. Now he had to start for Katihar. It was an emotional moment for Kalit to apart from his mother and other people of the village. He started to Katihar after bidding them bye.

Crossing the area destructed by the river of Koshi Kalit reached Katihaar and became expert in his work very soon. Due to overburden of work he called his cousin and nephew to share the work. It didn’t take time to gain good fame for Kalit. People living in that area had very bad experience regarding the final settlement of Jamindari. Kalit had removed the corruptions in the work. But the destiny had decided something else for him. Kalit’s mother died before the second marriage that is arrival of bride in her in-laws house. She had many dreams about her daughter-in-law. Sometimes she used to say that she would fight with her daughter-in-law to test Kalit that whom he would support. Jhingur Babu stared being very miserable. Kalit told him to come with him. But it was not easy for him to leave the place where he had spent all his life yet.

Kalit’s second marriage ceremony was settled on third year of first marriage. Jhingur Babu was little bit relaxed after that. He told to Kalit that when Kalit had been living out of house most of the time for his studies, Buchia was taking care of the parents. He was thinking that he would find a groom for Buchia himself but death of his wife had made him very weak. He added, “As you are self-dependent now. If someone has a son as young as five years old people use to tell him that he shouldn’t worry as he has a five year old son. And you’re well educated and earning son.” After handing Buchia’s hand over to his daughter-in-law Jhingur Babu died. Kalit had never seen him in so hurry. He used to be cool and patient. He used to worry about the fruits of his harvest. But separation from his life partner made him so impatient that he didn’t wait for crop harvest.

While staying in Katihaar, Kalit kept on worrying about marriage of Buchia. He never had such worries when his father was alive. But now he had to prove that Buchia was not an orphan in absence of her parents. Marriage proposal couldn’t be raised till first death anniversary of Kalit Babu. After giving a grand feast to villagers on the first death anniversary of his father Kalit had started the searching the groom for Buchia. He had visited the Paratapur Sabhagachhi but he didn’t find any groom suitable for Buchia. The leave of fifteen days from work was wasted. While working he came to know about some Maithil families from Giddhhaur, Baarh etc. the villages situated on the south of the river of Ganges. He liked a boy from Baarh who was working in estate of Giddhaur. He visited Giddhaur to meet the boy without delaying. The boy possessed impressive personality. Seeking address from the boy he reached Baarh and talked to boys father. The marriage proposal from Panchkoshi had reached the village after a long time so none was intended to refuge it. After fixing everything and completing the formality of registration called Siddhant in Bharam he reached Mehath. Everyone was shocke to know this. So was the father, so is the son. Jhingur Babu had done the same thing when he fixed Kalit’s marriage; after doing Siddhant he informed everyone. Same thing is repeated by Kalit. However marriage was fixed outside the familiar area but since Kalit had been living in that area so having faith in Kalit’s experience and decision everyone in village accepted this marriage happily. The entire Tole started preparation of that marriage. Buchia would not have any problem. She was blessed with all good qualities. Either it is question of singing song or cleaning worship place she was expert. She could make thousands of Mahadev so efficiently in a minute. Wherever she would go she would enlighten the place.

Marriage ceremony was finished in the best traditional way. The groom side has proposed the second marriage to be followed immediately but Kalit didn’t agree so they had to return with the print of hand of the bride.

Kalit’s wife was very good and she had established sisterhood with Buchia. Buchia was also fond of her sister-in-law. The second marriage was fixed in the third year. The maid who was sent with Buchia to her in-laws place started explaining about that place. Kalit’s wife became emotional. She used to ask Kalit about the village of Barh. Everything can be settled by time. Buchia had come twice or thrice from her in-law’s place, her sister-in-law became relaxed. In this way Kalit had become alone again. He had to spend the threatening nights with his wife, two daughters and a son on the bank of the Mahadev pond during the earthquakes of 1934. After that he went to Katihaar again. The reason was the consequences of several earthquakes that had been occurring for a month. But wife had started worrying about the house. His old house was destroyed in the earthquake so Kalit had made a new house on the side of the flower garden beside the road. He established his new house in the new land after giving the old land to his relatives. He got one more son and one more daughter afterwards. Family life of Kalit had started going on as usual.

Good days don’t take time to pass. His daughters grew as well. However own child always seems to be a child but it was time to arrange marriages for daughters. His first daughter got married to Kachhabi and the second one to Kharak. Family of Kachhabi was also employed in Raja’s place. It was a royal ceremony, horse, mahfa etc. etc. But the first daughter died while giving birth to her daughter who started living with Kalit’s family. However, she was also not blessed with long life and died at the age of five years after being suffered by a stomach pain. Kalit Babu kept on witnessing all this facts of life and deaths. Sometimes the villagers were suffering Cholera sometimes Plague and many more. As soon as one dead body was burned another death used to be noticed. But Kalit’s family was untouched.

Kalit had been rewarded by promotion and growing fame every now and then. His cousin and nephew’s family were living with him as usual. His both sons were studying in Kejariwar High School. After finishing marriage ceremony of his third daughter in Aamarupi, a village near Tamuria, he became relaxed. His elder son got married and he had full confidence in his younger son’s academic talents. But he also knew that his younger son was very superstitious. Because once a rumour spread that in dense fields of gram some miserable things used to happen then his younger son went to see that. When it was time to select one subject from Science and Arts Kalit Babu agreed with his younger son to opt Science. Many people told him that Satyanarayan Babu and many boys couldn’t pass in science so they had to restart by selecting Arts. But Nand didn’t agree. Rather, he had opted for Maths amongst other Science subjects. Kalit thought that by studying science Nand would not believe in the invisible but omnipresent God anymore. Kalit seemed to be very carefree after that. Once he returned from Katihaar and was washing his hands after coming from toilet, suddenly lota fell out from his hand and he himself fell down on the ground. His wife ran to him but it was too late. Life comes once and goes once as well. Nand had witnessed his father’s death. This form of death had always remained unique and mysterious for Nand. The authenticity of scientific principles was diminishing in front of the power of almighty God for Nand.

The sequence of life and death had completed one rotation around the unknown centre along the circular path. Nand was being brought up by his mother. He was loved by his teachers. His practical copy was very neat and clean and his handwriting was as good as he himself.

One more incident happened. Mother’s both sons were sleeping on the floor in front of puja room. When mother came there in the morning she saw the dead body of cobra snake cut into four pieces. Perhaps Bijji had done that in order to protect the boys. Nand started living with this memory. The division of property occurred meanwhile. All good fields were divided into two parts. People started telling that unjustified for both brothers. Nand got admission in I.Sc. (Maths) R. K. College, Madhubani. Initially he found maths to be hard to understand and so started learning it by heart. He started this way of learning Maths just to avoid the people’s criticise of selection of Maths by him. But gradually he started understanding that too. The memory of football ground in the village was remained merely as a memory; he never got a chance to play there. The teacher used to give a set of 300 questions and used to say that the person who would solve70% out of those questions correctly would get first division (i.e. +60%) marks in real examination. Nand had solved 70% maths question from those given set of questions and as per teacher’s presumption he secured first class marks. He applied for admission in an Engineering College in 1959. He got admission in Mujjaffarpur Institute of Technology on the basis of his good academic records. The only available branch in that institute during those days was civil engineering so he had opted that subject. He went there in his tradition Maithil dress- dhoti and kurta. Dikshit sahib showed him the workshop where such dress could be proved dangerous in case dhoti was stuck in the machines. He suggested wearing shirt and pants during working in workshop. Nand had to buy two shirts and two pairs of trousers. It needed time to buy fabrics and then give it to tailor so he bought readymade shirts and trousers. But while going to village he used to change his dress and wear dhoti kurta in the temple of the village. He never visited his village in shirts and pants. Engineering studies lasted for five years from 1959-1963. After that, he got a job of Assistant Engineer in Bihar Government. After one year of this job he got a post of Additional Engineer in 1964. Study of engineering was quite expensive so it was agreed at the time of marriage that Nand’s in-laws would bear all expenses of studies. Expenses of summer vacation and Durga Puja holidays were not provided by Nand’s in-laws. Whenever Nand’s in-laws used to say that they had made them engineer then he used to remind them the above fact. The circle of time started enlarging itself. First it has completed one rotation and then started expanding. A story of happiness and grief, progress and degradation.

The pleasure of daytime of Independence Day: 15 August 1947; he was walking by holding a flag in his hand with children of school. Affection to congress remained with him always. But the driving back of Indian Army in the battle field during war with China in 1965 and decision of not using air-force in that war were worse than the worst nightmare. Every time when All India Radio was announcing that Indian Army was being driven back, Nand’s heart used to stop beating. So when vacancy of engineers in the Army was open, Nand and Saha had applied for the post. Wife of Saha Sahib started crying and objected his decision. Nand’s wife didn’t deny at all. But Nand was rejected because of overweight. He was demoliged and he got a new passion of reducing weight from then. He had only one dream to have a house in place of cottage in the village. So after studying all designs from surveys he started construction of his house in such a way that no part will go to the government’s property for road. The construction of house was completed half only. He kept on gaining new experiences from wherever he got transferred to. Against the current trend he started talking to his wife directly. The surprising thing was that in place of criticising that people started copying his style. He was favoured by the local tribal community known as aadivasi on Dehri-On-Sone project. His honesty against bribe was sustained in all circumstances. He put his heart and soul in his job. The jeep provided by the government was used vigorously by Kalit to render his job.
While driving his jeep fast he always took care of pedestrians specially children. He never met any accident while driving. He helped people of all caste from his village to get teaching job. He also motivated local residents to do job. The local poor aadivasi people started calling him God. He suffered asthma attack first time here. The local Adivasi doctors arranged herbal medicine from the forest somehow for him. Allopathic medicine is still unable to ensure permanent cure from asthma but that herbal medicine had a miraculous effect of avoiding the second attack for many years. Friends started calling him Bholenath that means innocent guy. Many tried to teach him the act of bribe but the he had witnessed the helplessness of the villagers so closely that he never thought about that. How could he do that when the villagers were offering him so much affection in spite of poverty?  He got his daughter. The second child was a son. Daughter was born in maternal uncle’s house and son in his own house. Growing phase of kids began as usual- laughing, crawling etc. The process of growth of a baby is just like the making of this world. Nand was in Delhi to attend some training. He had a dream one night. Naveen was sitting in the barandah of his cottage. The baby, whom Nand loved a lot, went to play and returned after some time with some ache in his tummy. People rushed to that child. People started giving advices but the child died very soon. Nand woke up. He recalled the death of daughter of his elder sister. Some old lady had touched her tummy and she died after that because of stomach ache. Nand had strong faith in existence of ghosts, demons, witches etc. Such thoughts made him crying loudly. His friends woke up quickly. When he narrated everything to his friends then someone told him that his nephew’s age is extended. Many suggested awakening the scientific attitude of an engineer in him. But nothing could prevent him from leaving the training and going to his village. He reached home on third day and terrified by seeing his brother having clean shaved hair. Everyone seemed to be very sad when he entered the village. As soon as he reached home his mother started crying loudly. His nightmare was turned into reality. Perhaps Nand’s nephew wanted his uncle participate in his last rites. Nand printed dates of birth and death and the uttering of Naveen While calling him kaka on the back of his nephew’s picture by his fountain pen. He passed away before completion of construction of the house but he called his uncle in his dream for his last rites.

Construction of the new house was started after birth of a daughter. She used to recall that the foundation was too deep. But her father used to remind that her uncle used to put her in that by his hands. She used to sit on baa’s lap to solve the confusion. Nand’s mother was called baa by all grand-children. She used to call Nand’s son Nand’s nand, sometimes Gopal and sometimes Rajkumar. She was really enchanted by her grandchild’s laughter and curly black locks. The construction of dream house was finally completed but ba started suffering pain in her stomach at the same time. The family had already suffered two deaths by such mysterious stomach pain. So Nand didn’t like to take any chance. He consulted many famous allopathic doctors and wandered many cities and all his effort ended as diagnosis of the deadly cancer disease. The treatment was more painful than knowing the presence of the disease. The Chemotherapy, killing tumours i.e. cancerous cells by using radium, was started. Ba was exhausted and died in Patna. Her funeral was held in the bank of the river Ganges. Rest of her last rites was performed in the village. Ba couldn’t see the second son of Nand but she was always being remembered by family members. Ba’s photo was quite inspiring for her grand children. The fruits of the mango tree donated in last rites of ba were not eaten by her grand children. They used to put it on the grave where urn of their grandfather was buried. The process of burning the cow with hot sticks in order to perform last rites had ignited both children’s hatred for that cruel custom. They owed not to repeat that custom in future. Before bidding the world good bye, ba was quite successful in making the family recovering its old glory and re-establishing its image as intellectual entity being worshippers of the Goddess Saraswati.

At her last days of life Buchia came to meet her from Baarh. Both ladies lost in their past days. One had become ba and other burhiya didi for the children. The tales told by burhiya didi had become very famous among the children. Those were like a novel to be narrated night by night. In every night when story was told the youngest child used to sleep at earliest and the oldest at the latest so in the next night the oldest used to insist burhiya didi to continue from that point where he left but that was not tolerable for other as others used to sleep earlier. To solve that quarrel burhiya didi used to start from far away where the oldest one slept and when he used to oppose she had a clever answer that she narrated till that point and she didn’t bother when the oldest one slept. Then all used to agree to continue from the point when the youngest one went to sleep.

To solve the problem of irrigation Nand installed water boring system. But that was unsuccessful. After digging up to a depth he found that the land he selected for that didn’t have enough water. Due to failure in finding right layer the installation of boring was not completed and the pipes were left there drying. Children started calling that field “boring bala khet” that means a field having boring. Afterwards the Government declared to arrange boring system. When people came to know through Nand’s brother that this boring system would be arranged in those fields having sufficient water instead of fields those need that then they sent their representatives to the Chief Minister with an application. Then the problem was solved. A seven feet tall English man arrived with peculiar machines and finished the installation within two days. But later on someone said that the white man was an American not British. Every white person didn’t need to be British. The dams were constructed in Kamala and Balan rivers. Everything was going very smoothly for next some days but after that sand was filled in dams. The boundary walls were reconstructed higher but that was in vain. The sand level rose up to the bridge of Jhanjharpur. A little flow of water in the river was enough to cross the line of danger and overflow to submerged the path, fields, and ponds. The useless fields of highlands became fertile and the most fertile fields of the low land became useless. The sandy fields between two boundaries of dams had to be sowed twice for a single harvest. People started growing parwals (pointed gourds) and sweet potatoes in sandy grounds. The surrounding area of the Dakahi pond was used to grow rice in informal manner without proper sowing process as that was expensive. The old fertile fields were filled with water. The village of Bhoraha was in very low land between Kothia and Mehath. Perhaps it was a diverted stream of Koshi.
The fact stated above may seem incredulous considering present geographical position of the river Koshi. The bank of the Bhoraha stream had witnessed the fight between villagers of Kothia and Mehath. The story of one old man from the Bhomihar community of west side- people used to tie him with pillar of the house but he used to come out of that to fight with the people of neighbour village. He used to have an axe tied with long bamboo stick for this purpose. Around 60 kilos of churi were broken in that fight.
The reason of the fight was head of a pig. One more story about that old man’s throwing ability was famous. He was so perfect in aiming and throwing stick to the aim that all monkeys ran away from the mango orchard out of fear. See the new generation. Can anyone through the stick as high as the top of the Jamun tree? All wrestling spots are used for growing crops so how can youngsters build their muscles.

Once, Burhiya didi had visited house of Nand with her son for employment. The lai of Barh cooked by Burhiya didi can be tasted only when Burhiya didi was visiting Patna or the village.
When powers of Zemindars were seized the trend of doing job especially the government job was in vogue and so getting job was very tough too. The Thakurs belonging to the barber community often complained that Nand had helped every community to get government job except the Thakurs of barber community. Everyone got job but son of the Burhiya didi. The mentality of not doing job was changed too. Otherwise Gulab jha of eastern side of the village used to say that ‘Naukari’ (job) means ‘nai kari’ (not to be done), and ‘vetan’ (salary) means without body or ‘tankha’(salary) means eat your body. Burhiya didi had myriad stories about well, pond, ditch, orchards and quarrels for those things. Among such circumstances of sharing stories and views Nand’s children started growing. Nand had never kept his children disconnected from his native village. He used to visit his village with family at least thrice a year- in the summer vacation, in Holi and in Deshera. Children used to visit Burhiya didi’s house to taste the mangoes of that village. They used to walk recklessly on foot everywhere. The experience of wandering frivolously on the sands of the river of Kamala or in the mango orchards was wondrous. The picnic with menu of rice and fish curry in the summer nights in mango orchard, peeling mangoes with clam shells, ‘ti ti, who is called lal chadi’- playing satghariya, sucking smoke by burning lotus stems, experiencing sweet lips after eating mango with edible lime were truly indelible experiences and are not possible to be achieved by children if they didn’t visit village. Nand had once told his son-in-law that he would not return to Shar in his next seven births. During the flood of Patna in 1975 Nand was shifted to the north bank of the Ganges in order to work in Ganga Pul Pariyojana, a project work of building barrages. Nand was leading a happy family life with two sons and one daughter. Who had ever predicted that the year 1975 would destroy Nand’s happy family?

The abridgement of Aaruni’s story was that at the time of his birth his father was told that it was a daughter and that communication gap came to an end one day before the Chhathihar when his father came to know that he was a boy. The whole misunderstanding proved the fact that the fact was true the way someone knew that till the real truth was known to him. The vivid aspects of truth which is not untrue had efficacy in growth of Aaruni. Baa died before birth of Aaruni. Whenever Baa was recalled by people Aaruni used to listen to those conversations eagerly. In this way Baa had become a part of his life. Baa was not present physically but she was alive in memories of family members. The connection between Aaruni’s story and Nand’s story was not found earlier but as days passed Aaruni started showing his talents. It is an inevitable quality of human behaviour to compare and discuss similarity and disparity between two things. Many people spend their entire life in doing such analysis. Characters of Aaruni and Nand seemed to be similar somehow. In spite of outer personality and so called difference in thoughts the inner personality was some how same in both characters. At least it appeared so. Aaruni was also taken care of in the same manner an Indian middle class baby should be brought up. Aaruni’s parents especially his father was keen enough to find talents in Aaruni just like a normal parent who always enjoy discovering skills of his child. Aaruni used to have many nightmares. He was having both good and bad dreams but bad dreams were more often happening. He was trying to get rid of those. He used to start sweating in midnight and when he got up he found his parents fanning him. He had a keen anxiety to know who was born first. If God had made everything then who had made the God? He used to be concerned with such philosophic thoughts very seriously. He used to leap on the roof of his house in the well shaped nature in his dreams. Then he used to go unwillingly along the edge of roof like side of a pond. Again he wished to go away from the edge towards the centre but the well shaped nature’s gravity pulled him towards it and he fell down. Suddenly he used to wake up and then he was surrounded by both good and bad thoughts. He used to be happy that it was not a reality but at the same time he used to be worried suspecting the repetition of the nightmare
. Once he asked his father whether he (the father) also had this type of nightmare. His father replied that not now; but when he was child he had the nightmares, nightmares of big hairy comets, vomiting fire, looking angry. As if the comet would be preparing to swallow the earth. The dream is just dream, whatever you hear the same would return as dream during sleep time. I do not remember who old person told me the story of the comet. They told me that the coming of the comet is warning of coming of the danger. That once when the comet was seen in the sky; and there came famine and disease all around and was continued so for many years. All this hearsay came to my dream, but those dreams came when I was child. Now I have sleep problem, so when sleep itself is scanty, what to talk about the dream. And Aaruni thought that it would have been great if he also had scanty sleep. Aaruni started researching about the circumstances when he was having such nightmares. He used to think that he was awake till 9 p.m., he was also awake till 10 p.m., so when did he go to sleep? But he alleviated his worries by considering the fact that if he could know when he slept, he couldn’t sleep at all. His name was changed many times. He also read many mythological books for that. Then his education started. He wrote Ganapati’s ankush and then recited the sacred lined dedicated to the goddess Parvati and the god Shiva.

Aaruni used to laugh after chanting that mantra. His pronunciation problem was also solved. While learning numbers he used to utter in same rhythm but jumping from ten to nineteen and then from twenty to twenty nine. Nand’s younger son Aaruni was according to his expectations from the very beginning. There was some reason behind that. Nand was teaching him writing one to hundred. First he taught him one to ten and when started eleven he thought that it could be too much pressure for that little boy. But that boy learned eleven to twenty and twenty one to thirty as he felt that it was of the same trend as one to ten. When he discussed that with his father his father challenged him to write up to one hundred. When that boy showed him that correctly then they discussed how to write numbers in words. Nand gave special attention to these four numbers gyarah (eleven), ekkis (twenty-one), unasi (seventy-nine) and navasi (eighty-nine). When mother inspected to know the progress of last half an hour then she came to know that lesson was completed for that day. Father was pleased a lot and mother discussed that fact to very few people being conscious about his son’s wellness. Those instances had made the image of the boy as a perfectionist in the eyes of the father.

Aaruni was addicted to recall his past- the year in which incidents happened, how to remember those years, what he did in his childhood, life story of his parents and other elder people. It seemed that he was very worried how people could do work without his consent. In other words, the world should have stopped working when Aaruni was sleeping. He was able to remember only four incidents- like watching ‘Bobby’ movie in a theatre, going for photo shoot of long locks with parents before first hair cut ceremony, throwing the bunch of all keys into a ditch as a reaction of being neglected by his mother, any gathering on some occasion in village etc. Aaruni had concluded after thinking all these things that he remembered everything after 1976 when he was 5-6 years old. His mother gave him habit of reading news paper from that age. Nand recovered a diary of Aaruni in which he had recorded all events from his memory chronologically just like a historian.

“I, Aaruni, considers the year of 1976 as a turning point of my life. Because my life before that appeared as a collection of a few events without any hints of sequences what happened first and what after that. Sometimes, I suspect that it is memory of my previous birth.
Year 1976, I with my family and elder siblings was living in colony of workers of the Ganga Bridge Project in Hajipur situated at the northern side of the river. My father is an engineer but he is also a homeopathy doctor having M.D. degree with gold medallist. And this is a kind of his hobby. Residents of the colony collected money to buy homeopathic medicines. My father and a few people went to Kanpur to buy medicines. The drawing room of our government quarter with one almirah, one table and two chairs are dedicated to medicine practice. My small table is also there where I used to read the ‘Aryawart’ newpaper costing 30 paise to my mother. How much I remember is that that colony had two parts, it was surrounded by boundary wall, and there was a wall between these colonies too that used to divide this colony in two parts- residential area and warehouse. The area of warehouse used to be filled with scattered iron rods, weighting machine, trucks and a tree. The weighting machine was too big to be effected by me when I was climbing on it. Rather, the weight indicator didn’t move at all when I stood on that. I was told that the machine was made to weight heavy things. The weight of 15 Kilograms of 5 years old boy couldn’t be measured by this machine. There were one big and one small play grounds in the residential area of this Ganga Bridge Colony. A big water storage tank and a pump house were also situated between these two fields. A huge thick pipe was linked to the pump house for water supply. I still remember it clearly that the pipe was open and I had peeped once into it but after that I was scared knowing the danger of falling down into it. That pipe used to be covered by one jute bag that is usually used for storing grains. There was also a government food shop in the north corner of the bigger play ground. In the west of that shop a temple and Hanuman’s statue were built but the work was not completed because there was problem in fixing Hunuman’s nose. Nose of the God Hanuman was not fixed correctly either because of wrong proportion of building material or anybody’s mischief. But the work was completed after some days. The ritual of aarati was started on every Tuesday. The spirituality was spread in whole colony. People’s ardour of worshipping in that temple was diminished as time passed just like every social organisations. All plans related with that religious organisation remained merely in papers, couldn’t be implemented.
I had started going to a school away from the colony. My elder sister and brother were also reading in the same school. One day I quarrelled with one of my classmates. We both have slate-boards and we both started using it as a weapon. Had I hit his head with the slate then he might start bleeding so I used it as a defensive weapon. But he was of different mind so.....thump.......and blood came out from my head. Teacher took me to the principal’s room. I still remember the smell of the cotton soaked in dettol or savlon. I was not needed to wait for evening and closing of the school day after first aid treatment. I was sent home with my elder sister on an ordinary rickshaw without waiting for the school rickshaw that had a banner of notice “Be careful, school kids are here”. I asked my sister meaning of that phrase. I was of the opinion that it meant all kids on that rickshaw were careful. That boy didn’t agree with me and started quarrelling with me. Sister replied that this was to alert other drivers so that they didn’t hit the rickshaw.

I was still dissatisfied and asked, “But why?” I was growing with such eagerness and queries. During that phase of growing up sometimes maa used to say, “I was saying that when he would grow up and when he grew up he made me more worried.”

I and my siblings used to go to the school established in the name of a Christian Priest. After being injured by slate board my father called a meeting of officers of the colony. It was found that the premise of the centre of public distribution of ration between the play ground and the northern boundary wall of the colony was too big for that purpose. Apart from that, the licence period of that centre was also lapsed so the officers had decided to start their school in that premise of three or four rooms having asbestos roof. A committee of not more than four people was made and a few teachers were employed. An invitation to the Gandak Colony situated nearby was sent to send their kids to that school after six months. Name of the school was painted on the outer side of the northern wall which faded after some time. But the fame of that school kept on increasing day by day. Whenever a new guardian was requesting teachers for getting admission of his kid teachers used to suggest him to apply for one or two years junior class to that kid’s present class. They used to present standard of their school distinguished and superior to other schools. Being insisted by parents they used to call me and ask the question that the current applicant was unable to answer and after getting correct answer from me they used to give a pride smile to the parent. In short I was the smartest boy in my school before the student from that village came. No one was as able as I was. I had great interest for studies which was lost later on. Once I was suffering from high fever on the day of exam. I was able to write the paper only when question paper and answer sheets were sent to my home. The school was very small but people of the colony were participating in each of the event with interest whether it was cultural program or sports events. In race of running to some distance by making team of two students and tying one legs together else becoming a three footed creature and solving the maths problem written on the black board on the other end and then returning to the starting point was a real test of mental as well as physical ability in which I used to be the first. I remember two more incidents. The first incident was arrival of one boy from other village. He was a competitor to me because book of his village was different. But no sooner that difference was gone the challenge was gone too. The second incident was accident of a child. During play time we used to peep into his room through window to see him and sometimes we used visit to his room and read his diary. I remember some parts of that diary which was as follows:

“Due to lack of time I started missing the opportunity to talk about us. The reason was first of all my own habits and after that my accident, because of why 18 months of my life passed like 18 days, uselessly. I was also keen to make up that loss. I tried to do that by waking up early in the morning but due to lack of complete sleep I remained sleepy so could not use that time. Then I tried to reduce my social contact which was achieved without any effort as it seemed that I had a disease without any cure. Different opinions of different doctors.... wrong operations.... and combined effect was so that I had to lead a life of handicapped.
Leave the gossips apart. Even I was losing my faith on doctors. Their optimistic words were unable to solace me. The number of phone calls for asking about my health condition was reduced day by day. Afterwards, I improved from crutch to stick and started driving. Then I faced problem in socialising myself like I used to be earlier. I tried to maintain one-sided relationship with people who were not living away from my place. But other people became beyond approach because of my isolation from them in past years. People who used to laugh at me during my bad days found my good behaviour to them sympathy for their rudeness so they denied to continue relationship with me. People’s negligence saved my time a lot.
First I thought that my colleagues would not recognise me but when I reached the office I was welcomed like a hero. But they didn’t let me know their grief of seeing me holding a stick.
They were always appreciating my courage. When I left the support of stick and went to office in jeans and shirt then someone told me that I was regaining my previous look. I started thinking about that. I made video recording of my walking styles with help of my wife. I was shocked to know that my walking posture was like I was running. Then family members told me that that was too less than my earlier habit. Then I realised that how bad it could be for my well- wishers. Then I realised the reason behind their motivation. The fear of being left alone in crowd of colleagues after passing a long period of loneliness, my expectations rather faith in self being, all led to develop my strong and special personality.

Although he was my fellow but he was pretending as he was a big matured married man. Miserable life of group of workers, hanging clothes on the trolleys – these views were really heart touching. And in spite of all poverty they used to laugh, able to feel the happiness without having a roof. The beggar children used to peek to us with their woeful vision, insulted by everyone, if I would have to face such a wretched life then how would I face that? And no one simply bother about them then why should I? Am I only the different one? I was thinking that world kept on going even if I was not present everywhere. I used to read a fact in a book that some animals were only able to see two dimensional things. Men can see three dimensional things then had the earthquake and other disasters been brought by someone who can see four dimensional views.

Whenever father was buying me a lalchadi worth five paisa, he used to say to look at those people who looked after their families by earning money by selling those lalchadi. The importance and necessity of money could grow as much as you want. Having own surroundings and experiences of ups and downs of life, the nightmares, father’s job problems – among all of these my study was going on. I remember that one day my father just kicked the bag presented by a contractor. The bag fell far away by dispersing all notes all over the ground. My cousin brother had collected all money, put them back in the bag and handed that bag over to the contractor. He also instructed him to run away otherwise my father would call the police. My mother had hidden me inside the house. I was too young to know all those things but I understood that my father was offered a bribe to favour that contractor. Father kept on murmuring for a long time after that. Some times lack of appropriate salt in food was giving him enough reason to be angry and through the plate. The sound of plate hitting the wall was very terrifying. After a few minutes of silence all kids were called and pampered a lot. I used to be first in my class. On the day of getting result my aunt used to give me home made sweet balls made up of flour and jiggery. I can not forget the taste of that sweet yet. That aunt had one insane brother-in-law, younger brother of her husband. Once I was crossing the Ganges by steamer with him and he suddenly started trying to throw his brother into the river. That aunt had a daughter called Rajani. I don’t know what kind of disease she was suffering from but allopathic medicines laid her on bed. We often used to visit her house to know her wellness. I was a little shy in going anywhere alone but used to visit her house every now and then with some one. We used to call her did. She was too elder to us. She died after some time. My confusion about my aunt’s behaviour was increased after that death. She sent her sons to school in the next day of her daughter’s death. Her cruel behaviour had been criticised by the neighbours for a long time. A brother of that aunt was lecturer in the Mujaffarpur Institute of Technology from which my father had completed his engineering degree. He visited our house in Ganga Bridge Colony and scolded his brother-in-law for such negligence. He was of the opinion that due to lack of money my uncle couldn’t avail right treatment to his daughter. I was also of the same opinion that with help of good doctors in Patna death can be conquered. But when my brother informed me that there were a numbers of atom bombs was present in the world a single one of which can destroy the entire world then my logic was failed.

It was a good experience for me after what I was daring enough to take small accidents easily. I started living a relaxed life. Any kind of fear of death and life could not threaten me and I was not running after a particular aim. I liked such sports where individual talents were recognised. I started avoiding team works. I didn’t like to blame other people for own failure. I was hardly getting any time for playing after school and studies. The loss of interest towards my aim was not present that time. At that time I was dreaming of winning the world. Second position had no value for me. Second position meant failure for me. I loved to be first in all fields- either sports, or studies or fight. We used to visit village very frequently. In village my uncle used to get permission from the teacher of the school at the side of Mahadev pond and I was getting opportunity to visit school in holidays too. The children of town could never know the names of such games like kabaddi, satgarhiya, laal chadi etc. So the pattern of study was very different from cities. I was tired of writing a diary with ink pen made up of bamboo stick.
I used to write same sequence of daily routine like I got up, after being fresh took bath then had breakfast, then sat for studies, had lunch, went to school, returned from school, had supper, played with friends, returned home, cleaned glass of lamp, read, had dinner, went to bed etc. We had to submit two days diary on Mondays as there was holiday on each Sunday.
The eagerness to celebrate 15th August, the Independence Day used to be different in those days. We used to cheer for independence and the great freedom fighters. I couldn’t understand why he told us not to fight at that time however I got it in the next morning when I heard the crowd cheering while crossing the border of the village. There was a big fight took place when children of Mahinathpur were crossing the village. After a great effort it was stopped. When I came to village then senior students started telling their story about the quarrel how they had beaten the children of other village by pushing them into the pond. They were looking to take revenge next time again but this time too................In the second year, same meeting to establish peace and all but that time the neighbour villager had changed their way.

Fighting was a kind of festival. The fight could begin on very little things like breaking of bottle of chocolate in the shop in Durga Puja fair. Once an old man had slapped a youngster but after that no one continued the story. Every one started confirming that it was that story. No one was telling that story. I couldn’t hide my eagerness and asked them what that story was that was known to everyone except me. They said that the boy they quarrelled with was approached for the marriage of Buchia by an old man of our village and they denied that. That was the reason behind the created reason of quarrel. I said that if that marriage were successful then he would be son-in-law of our village and he would be respected by us but everyone said that I am diverting the fact. Again, my friends attempted to create quarrel with people of other villages while watching the drama. He was teasing those people in that function. He was speaking ruthlessly about them. And if other side was responding anything then he used to threaten them that he would call Naren bhaiya. Then the other side replied that they were not scared of Naren bhaiya. That was not the end of his naughtiness. He started crying loudly unnecessarily. He complained to Naren bhaiya that other people had hit him and said that they didn’t bother about Naren bhaiya. Naren bhaiya came and asked him to point out who was that discourteous person. As soon as my friend pointed that person with torch Naren bhaiya told “Oh! Bhayar you! I cannot believe this. If he had said this about anyone else then I could have believed but how can I trust this rubbish about you?” Then he asked me whether that boy’s complain was correct or not. I denied. As soon as I confirmed his falsehood his all tears vanished all of a sudden. My friend had to listen to Naren bhaiya’s scold very generously and at the time of leaving Naren bhaiya announced that he was his friend so no one should tell him anything and whispered to me that he was saved today.

Examination of all arts was held in the primary schools of the village- music, drawing, drama etc. There were lots of talented people in the village who can play drums, harmonium etc. Earlier drama was played in Durga Puja only but later on it became trend of celebrating Krishnashtami, Kali Puja etc. Harsha’s Ramleela party had also performed drama for one month. Conflicts rose during that drama too. Then ramleela was played without inviting any drama company from outside every now and then. However, people kept on sponsoring Ramleela by outsider. Bearing expenses of hiring the Ramleela party was termed as holding mala. People used to announce for sponsoring the drama out of excitement for a moment but later on considering enthusiasm of the drama party and interest of villagers a systematic collection of money for hiring the drama party was established. There was a craze of the Ramleela in those days and I too had dream of having my career as an artist. With consent of teachers we started practicing drama on Saturdays in the school. To solve the problem of finding source of good drama book I wrote a drama named “Daanveer Dadhichi”. I gathered the child-artists. The child-artists had names too inappropriate to suit to the famous characters of Indian mythology. Let’s have a look- potaha, lulha, lengra, potsurka, lelha, dhahibala, kanha, anhra, totraha, bauka, bahira etc. Those names meant deaf, blind, handicapped etc. The children who were considering themselves very sophisticated and respectful weren’t interested in participation of drama. If someone pronounced dhahi in place of dahi (yogurt) in his childhood then his name was kept dhahiwala. One child got their name Potaha as he had runny nose in winter. If the second child too had caugh then he had name potsurka. One child got his name Anhara (blind) as he couldn’t see the object and hit it during moving in darkness. If any child started speaking late then he became Bauka (dumb). An innocent child got name of Lelha, ignorant to people got name of Bahira(deaf), if the child kept his hand straight after wearing new Ghari (a watch made up of the Mango leaf) in the Ghari Pabani he got the name lulha (handicapped). The stuttering child got name of Totala. His habit of seeing with cunning eyes or frightening other kids by folding eyelids could give him name of Kanha. If any child walked limpingly due to some problem in legs he got the name of langara (cripple).
But if a child belonged to a rich family and his mother was quite bold then even though he had some real defect nobody could dare to tease him.

Ok, my drama ‘Danveer Dadhichi’ was to be played on next Saturday by that group of child-artists.

The drama of Danveer Dadhichi was started on the scheduled date. We had reached school before the opening time. On a corner of corridor a bed sheet was hung to make the screen of the stage. The rope couldn’t be tied properly so it was decided that screen would be pulled up and down manually. After that artists started dressing up. Dressing up was very easy. They put dhoti and gamacha on and put powder on face as a make up. Additionally, some other accessories were worn too. The teacher responsible for directing the drama had suddenly remembered some urgent work and had not attended school that day. The elder boys of the village came to know that artists are students of primary school so they started teasing them by passing comments. I warned the artists that they would destroy our drama but younger brother resisted that he would manage even if he was in drama dress he would not mind fighting when it was needed. He shouted that he would take the drama dress off and start reacting if people would keep on doing so but that threatening couldn’t stop the excited boys. Then younger brother had declared that the drama would not be played any more on that day. To teach the lesson to the disturbing elements he ran towards them with a stick. And very soon the environment was filled with the noise of fighting and defending voices. My drama that was to be played by us and was to be directed by me came to an end without completion. I was crossed with the younger brother for a while and he used to say that he just lost his temper but he also insisted that it was not his fault but the environment made by those naughty boys made him to do so. Time passed and my anger was cooled down too. I too lost the enthusiasm of doing Ramleela and other drama.

I never read any subject repeatedly except Maths and Science. Nor did my teacher suggest me to do so. If any student was caught reading History and other subjects twice or thrice then he was given the name of that subject. Whenever such students were seen reading Maths later on then they had to listen to the comment passed by the teachers that Math was not History so he shouldn’t try it to learn by heart. Making umbrella from the mat whilst it was raining and murmuring countdown while running towards home; while playing Kabaddi in holidays if Master Saheb was seen passing by on cycle then greeting him by continuing game- Kabaddi kabaddi master sahib pranaam kabaddi kabaddi etc. are memories to be treasured. And in one of such incidents I was caught by the opposition team as I breathed in order to greet Master Sahib which was against the rule. That Mater Sahib of Koilakh was so happy that he talked about that incident in the school.
The time spent in my village proved to be very precious memories for me. I was able to run so fast in wooden shoes. I never slipped while running in rain, in muddy ways. When slippers were introduced then many people were falling down and using hot water bags to sooth pain. I often recalled those incidents- fire, standing on queue for kerosene oil, sugar balls, rubber balls, fight between two villages during fishing, crowd to see the flood, gathering of people and discussion for small things, memories of mango groves; would those things change by time?

“Uncle! I have not applied that irritating thing on his skin”, I started crying while giving clarification. Some boys had poured kabkabauch on Banai’s body when he was asleep. Every one was returning from the mango orchard when they saw this plant. Very soon boys started discussing about the effects of Kabkabauch – a plant whose leaves can create irritation if rubbed on skin. No one was ready to try this so when Banai was found sleeping boys tried that on him. All boys ran away and I was caught as I was coming behind them unaware of the fact. Uncle didn’t believe my clarification and he had given me punishment. He had also instructed me to stay with his group and walk around the fields instead of playing with those boys and learning mischief. It was time of flood. Viewing the sight of flood in a boat and hunting Silli was very adventurous. The Government banned the hunting of that animal later on. But I was missing my friends and I was lost in the imagination of fun my friends would be having by playing and running here and there. That was my first day with my uncle. Until afternoon, I was in the anticipation that I would have to go with my uncle on the second day too so I tried my best to hide my distress in front of my friends and narrated them the stories of my trip in last day very interestingly. But considering my fainted expression my uncle asked me if I was interested in going with them. I had not denied directly but said that I liked to stay at home. Then uncle showed pity and left me with my friends with the condition that I would not do any mischievous act.

We stayed in the village for 18 months and when my father got transferred to Patna then I came to Patna via Pahlejaghat and Mahendrughat. There was a rule of entrance test for admission in the school. Dad made my brother to give test for admission in class seven and he made me to give test for admission in class six and seven. Now I came to know why my father had inspired me to learn maths of class six when I was in class five. Well, my brother passed the test for class seven and I passed the test for both class six and class seven in District school. There was rule of wearing uniform for students even in the Government school in urban area. We, both brothers went to shop with my father and our school uniforms were prepared –one shirt and one pair of half pants for each of us. On the very first day of school a fight was just to happen as one boy tried to tease us. First he called us ‘dehati’ (people from rural area, not stylist) but that didn’t made us angry because at that age we were considering that word good but now I realise that he had said that with wrong sense. Anyway when he found us unaffected then he started calling us ‘Bengali guys’. That was intolerable. We both were looking like very gentle and quiet so he dared to call us so. I couldn’t bare this insult and ran to fight with him but my brother stopped the fight. Now that boy started crying and ran to call some senior student. When he came back he was not crying and he told me that I was lucky as the boy he went to call had not come to school that day. I remained scared for two three days thinking about what would happen if that boy would come with his hero senior. After a few days the boy quarrelled with someone else and his hero friend was present that day. He came to our class and hit my classmate on his stomach. Nobody saved that boy at that time but after those boys left we had decided that nobody will talk to that querulous boy and we would make a complaint against that boy to our class teacher so that he could forward that complaint to the class teacher of that boy. That quarrelsome boy became worried and again showed his crooked attitude. He went to his senior friend and said that everyone was conspiring against him. Then the senior boy came and told every one to stand up but nobody stood up. Then he told me to stand up. I followed his instruction and stood up. He repeated that with three or four more boys and all of them stood up one by one. Then he instructed the entire class to stand up. All followed him. Then that senior boy started threatening us. But our class monitor acted courageously that time. He told him about the naughty behaviour of his friend. He gave my reference and asked him whether I looked like a quarrelsome boy but his friend had teased me too. Then that senior boy was convinced and he warned his little friend not to repeat such mischievous acts. The school days were passing by so on. Once, a boy whistled to tease the teacher. That boy had escaped to Bombay to be a child actor but returned from there. Some one once asked him why did he returned from Bombay then he replied that people working there were B.A., M.A. so he decided to complete at least matriculation. Now the teacher had left teaching and started investigating about who the culprit was. According to the majority of opinions one side was separated then one bench was pointed now it was to be found out that who was that boy among those six boys sitting on that bench. Then a question was raised that where the sound was came from- right side or left side. At last the teacher’s investigation ended on two boys. Out of those two boys one was that Bombay returned hero whose story of trial to be an artist was favourite time pass in our leisure classes. It couldn’t be confirmed who that culprit was among those two.

The diary was blank after that. Nand had returned that diary to his son and there was nothing to be ashamed of in that diary but Aaruni’s siblings used to tease him for that incident. Therefore Aaruni torn his diary one day out of anger and this autobiography couldn’t be turned as a novel.

The mission of Nand to fix disorganisation was at its leisure. Kids had stayed in the village for 18 months. His salary was stopped for that period. His elder brother helped him to quit the job of field work and find the job of drawing project in an office by influence of a politician. He also instructed Nand to visit office, take care of his children and establish harmony with people around him. Nand was very obedient to his brother when he came to Patna. He sought one house nearby the Women’s college in which his daughter got admission. For admission of two sons he submitted the required forms for entrance examination with correct information. He invited everyone to Patna. He instructed his nephew to come with all. He also told him to catch the steamer of the Bihar Government at Pahlejaghat. He didn’t like the private steamer of Bachcha Babu because it used to be over crowded and not very scheduled. On the other hand the Government’s steamers were very punctual and they were not accepting excess passengers. That was the reason why there was a crisis of tickets. One more advantage in Government’s steamers over private steamer was that in the Government’s stearmers life of each passenger was to be insured by a Bima company. His wife and children reached with his nephew. Nand was living isolated life in the Ganga Bridge Colony. He had also prevented his family to associate with neighbours. But every thing was reversed in Patna. There were three neighbours - one retired soldier, one policeman of Bihar Government and one worker of Bihar Legislative Council. Nand had visited three of them with his both sons and introduced himself and his sons. Nand’s children had started going to school. Nand was travelling 5 kilometres on his feet to go to the office and while returning to home he used to do domestic works too like buying green vegetables and other groceries items from the weekly fair on each Thursdays. The fair was held on Sundays too and he used to buy all household things by himself. The only job children had to do was to study. Milkman used to drop packed milk at door. Getting fresh milk was disturbing children’s study as they were supposed to bring it from the house of the milkman. His elder son, who used to destroy neighbours’ garden by snipping flowers or throwing grabbles to other’s windows in the Ganga Bridge colony, was turned much disciplined after staying in the village for 18 months. Nand remembered that he had to go to a neighbour’s house with his elder son and his elder son asked for his apologise to the lady at whom he had thrown grabbles when she was looking out through her window. When Nand returned from office then he came to know about that incident and he immediately made his elder son to say sorry. The younger son had hit a stone to an elder boy while he was riding the bike. Actually that boy had promised to stop after completing one circle but he didn’t stop and continued by saying that he was stopping after completing. He couldn’t convince the younger one to say sorry as in his opinion he had not done anything wrong. Well those incidents happened in the Ganga Bridge Colony. When Nand visited to his neighbours this time his elder son was totally changed but his younger son was like stubborn. Both sons of Nand were securing first positions in their classes. Life was going quite smoothly at that time. All worries of past days were seemed to be gone. A couple of people from the village were also living in Patna. They used to go for outing on one Sunday each month - either to their villagers or to a zoo. Once they were visiting zoo then Aaruni asked Nand-

 “We have come to the zoo, it is written ‘Botanical Garden’ on the board outside and at the gate it is printed as ‘Biological Garden’.

“In early days, immigrated birds were exhibited in the Sonepur Mela so people starting calling it as a Zoo. The acres of this land have treasured many trees and each tree has its name and botanical description written on it so this garden is also a botanical garden. Later on, it was realised that there are mainly two parts of biology – one is botany and other is zoology. And in this garden apart from trees, birds and animals like lions, tigers etc. are also kept. So people found ‘Biological Garden’ as the most suited name for this place. Old name boards were not removed”, Nand replied.

Once they were in villagers’ house then the topic of discussion was inauguration of the new Bridge on the Ganges. The inauguration had been postponed for last two three years. They asked Nand-

 “In your opinion when will this be inaugurated? The Chief Minister had said that the bridge would be inaugurated this year only”.

“It will never be inaugurated. I have been hearing this for two three years. When one pillar is completed, because of excess of sand, it stars cracking after some period. Again the pillar is broken and new construction begins”

When that discussion started Nand started thinking of those labourers who fell down from the breaking pillar. Nand was crossed with his colleagues and the contractor of the project. Nand had expressed his disagreement during constructing one pillar and after some time that pillar was cracked. The pillar was tried to be broken during night time and when it was not done then a big tent was hung to cover the crack mark so that no one could see that. That incident was remained as a big issue for a long time. The workers working in that project started respecting Nand a lot after that incident but at the same time Nand had become a villain for contractors and his colleague engineers. Everything was good in those days. Nand’s sons used to finish learning all maths and science of the new class from January to March. But since Nand was doing all works by himself his children were totally unaware of the world outside. They only knew the path between home and the school. Where ever they were going out they were going with their father so their personalities were developed in different way. Nand was leading a normal life but any discussion about the Ganges Bridge project was enough reason to disturb him. Therefore he started avoiding his friends by and by and at last he neither was visiting any one’s house nor does he has any friend.

There was a Japan made transistor of medium wave available in the market in those days. That was the only source of entertainment in Nand’s house. His children used to call it radio then Nand used to clarify that radio was very bigger machine in respect of transistor. When nand had started earning he bought a transistor of the Bush Company and took that to the village. The villagers had crowded to hear that. That Japanese radio was consuming battery too fast. The batteries used to be finished till 10th day of a month and those were bought once in a month with the grocery. So that source of entertainment was not working for rest of twenty days of a month. During those days Nand’s sons used to play vivid games. Both boys used to make two goal posts at two ends of the bed. The goal posts were made by joining two plastic toys. Those toys were gifted to them by someone in the Ganga Bridge Colony. They were using combs to kick the balls and the plastic made letters used to be balls. The challenge was to make goal by hitting the ball from opposite goal post in one stroke. The rules of the game were also different. In that way Nand’s sons were creating many new games. The days were passing by in that way. The outing was minimal. Two incidents happened after that. The first was inauguration of the Ganges Bridge and the other was that Nand’s both sons couldn’t secure first positions in their classes for the first time. After that Nand was somehow upset. However, those two incidents were not inter-related. Since Nand was not justified by the system of the Government and his sons were not got the first positions, Nand was disappointed. Nand’s blind faith in the almighty and omnipresent God was again strengthened. Every incident has its reason and when the reason is not visible then people’s attraction for the invisible God becomes stronger. And Nand used to be very theist from his childhood.

“Is Nand at home?”

An elderly man having black teeth because of chewing paan too much, dark complexion and thin body asked after knocking the grill of Nand’s house.

“No, he has not yet returned from the office. He must be coming very soon. Come in please”, Nand’s son told.

“I am coming after some time”, that man replied.

After some time Nand returned in his usual manner of without noticing his surrounding just hopping towards the home. That man came following him. As soon as Nand saw him he greeted-

“Oh! Shobha Babu! You’re seen after a long time.”

“You recognised me”, said that man.

In return Nand sat down and started crying.

“You crazy man, you are still a mad.” Shobha Babu was pleased at heart to get such respect.

Shobha Babu was from the Kachabi village. He was younger brother of husband of Nand’s eldest sister. Nand’s sister was dead. Daugher of his sister was living with them but she also died after suffering from the deadly pain in stomach. His brother-in-law was used to ride horse to collect taxes. But after death of the daughter of Nand’s sister his relation with his brother-in-law was also weakened without any intention. And suddenly Shobha Babu met him in Patna after 25 years.

“How is my brother-in-law? We told him a lot for re-marriage but he was not convinced.”

“Those old royal days are gone now. With the end of jamindari the status of the family had also diminished. But the habit of leading luxurious life was still existed. How long can one survive by selling lands and properties? People started moving towards towns to earn. We told him that you are the eldest one. You are habituated to live in luxury so you cannot labour. We won’t feet it dignified.”

Shobha Babu stopped speaking by making an excuse of chewing paan. But the fact was that his eyes and throat were unable to hide his grief. After taking a break he restarted,

“After telling this to my brother I left home with some chura and jiggery without asking for his permission. I went to Simariya Ghat and had a bath in the holy river Ganges then crossed the river by a boat and finally reached Patna. I worked in a tea stall for some days. People from our region were not in such a large number in those days and I was also young. I continued my work there for many years. Meanwhile many rumours about me were spread in my village like I was dead or I became a priest etc. Then I started my own tea stall after what I sent a postcard to my family. I have been running my own tea stall near B.N. Collegiate School for last five years. I have also started a paan stall near that”, narrated Shobha Babu.

“Shobha babu! All your teeth are broken.”

“I got addiction of tea while working in tea stall. But that was not a problem. When I started a paan shop then I started chewing cold paan after having a cup of hot tea. This sequence of hot and cold damaged my teeth.”

Both of them started laughing at that.

Again they started chatting. Sister-in-law of Shobha babu died otherwise the relationship between Mehath and Kachabi villages would be warm now. All misfortunes came together. Nand recalled that his niece (daughter of his sister) was playing so nicely. Suddenly his mother told that someone of some family had touched his niece’s stomach and she started feeling strange pain in her stomach just after that. Even if many remedies were tried but that strange pain lead to her mysterious death.

“If your niece was live then relation would be alive too”, said Shobha Babu.

But Nand was lost in some other world. He was thinking about the life of his choice. That family life he was leading at that time, buying groceries, worrying about children’s results, all those things were just a way to obey his elder brother.

The new bridge on the Ganges was inaugurated and his sons had not got first ranks in their classes. His daughter had opted for Science i.e. Biology in Graduation. There was no connection between the inauguration of bridge and degradation of his sons in study but in Nand’s opinion children’s progress or retardation is reflection of their parents’ good or bad deeds respectively. He considered his failure in stopping the corruption in the construction of the bridge and earning to take care of his family to follow his elder brother’s instruction in stead of fighting against the corruption as reasons behind his sons’ degradation. Meanwhile, children’s uncle and Nand’s elder brother arrived Patna.

Nand asked him whether he came through the new bridge or crossed the river by a steamer.

“I came by streamer because I was unaware of the fact that the bridge was opened for public use. I will go through that while returning home as I came to know that many deluxe coaches are available to cross the bridge”, replied Nand’s brother.

“No, don’t go through that bridge. There are many corruptions done to make that bridge. Any time it may collapse.”

The elder brother couldn’t understand what happened to Nand.

“Are you ok? How is your health? Is your problem of asthma in control?” asked the elder brother as both brothers were suffering from asthma.

“No, that is fine. I tried my level best to forget the past, whatever happened during construction of that bridge, according to your order. I have seen many workers falling from the collapsing pillars. Hundreds of workers died. The engineers earned a lot by corruption. Now when the bridge was inaugurated then list of only 17 workers’ names are sculptured on the stone and kept near bridge and the engineers were rewarded. This bridge can fall down anytime. When I tried struggling against the corruption then they retained my salary. Every time I got transferred my salary is retained and I have to leave my family. Following your instruction I accepted this transfer. I tried to forget everything, the falling bodies of workers into water, crying families of those workers. I was having nightmares of such incidents, the hairy comets comes in these nightmares. The comet must have been some cursed soul who had left his work unfinished and died and now wandering in this universe. And now degradation in the results of my three children; they used to get the first positions but now condition is changed. This is result of my own deed. I shouldn’t have left my struggle without completion”, said Nand.

“Are you mad? People who had done corruption they will have to pay one day. You did your duty at your utmost. Who doesn’t take care of his family? Neglecting own children because of other’s fault is not wise. What is fault of your children?” said Nand’s brother.

Again both started talking about the village. Nand used to be lost in some other thoughts while conversation. The elder brother understood that the storm in Nand’s brain was not going to stop. He kept on consoling Nand. But he had known Nand from his childhood. He knew that Nand is very stubborn. So he was scared.

He was not talking to Nand’s wife directly but he told her that everything was dependent on her.

Nand went to drop his elder brother to the steamer at Mahendrughat because he couldn’t trust his brother. He suspected that his brother could go through the bridge without telling him and the bridge might collapse anytime.

After that Nand started learing astrology. He and his children started wearing variety of stones in rings. One day, he bouth Hanumaan chalisa for every one at home. He kept five to ten books extra in stock and started giving to visitors. During that time Nand met a fake tantrik. He caught Nand’s psychology so nicely that Nand accepted him as a prophet. That priest had all solutions to Nand’s problems- like how to punish the corrupted people, how to improve children’s result and many more. The basis of solution was mantra and tantra on which Nand never had disbelief. That priest started asking for money for doing all needful rituals. That priest told Nand that the goddess told him in his dreams that everything would be fine in next month. He taught him some yoga postures and Nand started following his instructions like a student followed his teacher’s instructions. Nand tried that for the entire month but nothing happened. In that way a year passed. Meanwhile that priest had some financial problem and Nand had to bear his personal expenses too. That priest’s children also started tantra. Once a child said, ‘the Goddess is under the bed’ and Nand started looking underneath the bed to find the Goddess. Again the priest gave proposal of marriages of his son and his daughter with Nand’s nephew and Nand’s son. Nand was fed up of his diverted behaviour till then. Nand was happy to be associated with him but he never liked his children to be associated in that circumstances. At the same time when Nand’s villagers came to know about that then Nand’s nephew and Nand’s elder brother quarrelled with the priest and the priest had accepted the fact that he was not a real tantric. He promised to return the money he took from Nand but he never returned that. That incident was a big shock for Nand. He was passing by the priest’s house but he was not talking to him and the priest was also not taking any initiative. Nand’s daughter got married and again Nand started leading a lonely aimless life.

Walking to the office, always thinking about something etc. had become routine of Nand. Earlier he used to read some books but he left that habit too. He was not spending time in reading books with his children as well. Visiting village twice in a year in Holi and in Durga Puja was also changed in visiting village only once on the occasion of the Durga Puja. But Nand never missed to celebrate Holi in village although apart from his family. While going to village Nand started visiting one uncle somehow related to his family. He started believing in witches. He became sceptical to his neighbours. He was accompanying his children while going to appear in examinations suspecting that his enemies could harm his children. But after making his uncle his religious guru he became very confident. Again everything was going slowly - children’s education, their jobs, the same kind of middle class dreams, marriages, small matters of domestic conflicts etc. The confidence of surviving in and competing with the world shown by his children made Nand more relaxed because his children had never seen the outside world. As soon as they reached home they were away from the outside world, even his friends were not visiting his home. They used to pass the written examinations of all competitive exams but when it was time of interview they had to face the problems of distinction based on caste, language, region etc. Nand had never given his children such enviournment so they used to be very dumbfounded to see the outside world. Aaruni couldn’t achieve the post as higher as expected by his father but he got the ‘B’ group government job. Nand’s son-in-law was also an engineer so he got a government job too. His second son also got a job in a Bank. Nand’s children had not been watching cinema in the talkies for last 10 years. The fair of puja in Patna, Gol Ghar etc. had also not been visited for a long time. People used to laugh at those activities of Nand’s family but later on they started thinking that such things could be the reason of rise of Nand’s family. Nand’s didn’t have television that was also very unique for a general people. Aaruni bought a television after getting job. When Nand saw the advertisement of the Mahabharata in the television he asked his wife-

 “Why cannot we see Mahabharata in our TV?”

His wife replied, “We only have DD1. Someone in the upper floor could see DD Metro because his son bought him a machine worth 300 rupees. That machine when attached to the TV avails DD Metro channel. Mahabharat is telecasted in that channel. Why don’t you buy that machine with your next salary to complement the TV given by our son?”

Nand disagreed, “That will be given by him who gave this TV”

When Aaruni came to know about that he laughed. He arranged the machine in next day and when Nand watched Mahabharata in next week end then everyone was very happy. Aaruni went out of Patna for arms training in that month. Durga Puja was in that one month’s period of training. That was the first time when Aaruni’s fathere had not visited village in Durga Puja. Aaruni also came to Patna in a weekend within the festive season of Durga Puja. It was Sunday. Mahabharata was being telecasted in TV. Aaruni had only one friend. Aaruni was out with him without eating any thing. He returned with his friend. Mother served both of them food.

“Did father have lunch?” he asked his mother.

“Yes, it is three o’clock now. He is taking nap after watching Mahabharata and having lunch. I must give him tea otherwise he will not wake up.”
Aaruni couldn’t eat more than two three spoon. His friend asked him that what the reason was.

“I don’t know. I am not feeling good”, he replied.

“You have to go for training tomorrow so you are worried”, his friend consoled him.

“Don’t know”.

Meanwhile some sound came from inside and everyone ran towards him.

“What happened mother?”

“I gave him tea and he is not getting up. Earlier he used to get up as soon as tea time was announced.”

His body was stretched and senseless. The fear of death of Nand turned the environment very sad. Aaruni was shocked. The doctor from the upper floor came and declared death of Nand. Aaruni’s friend called his friends without delay. Everyone got their job- one at the entrance to guide people, one in the drawing room and so on. His friends rolled the required things in the bedding and brought to Aaruni.

“You will have to prepare for funeral; you will need to go arrange bamboo bed to lift the body to the bamboo ghat. I am going to arrange the vehicle,” said Aaruni’s friend.

“My father was very attached to the village. He used to say that he would not come to the city for next seven births. Ba’s funeral was done in Patna. The bridge of Patna was not made during those days. But now it is possible to take the body of my father to the village by any vehicle so funeral can be done in the early morning,”said Aaruni.

“I am arranging that”, replied his friend.

That friend of Aaruni was like Hanuman there arranging everything so quickly including the vehicle.

“You must have the identity card of your uniform”, said his friend.

“Yes I do have,” said Aaruni.

“However there is less chance to be any destruction in the way to home but keep it with you for the safer side,” advised his friend.

House was vacant. That was locked. Both brothers along with their mother started towards the village in that night of Shukla Paksha. Bus was stopped at the entrance of the Ganga Bridge. The list of names of dead workers was kept in the corner. Those were people who died while working in the Ganga Bridge Project. Aaruni got off the truck and saw the list.

Uraon, Jha and many workers, one Jha and rest were tribal adivasi people. Many were dead but Police used to throw the dead bodies into the river at night so only thirty names were listed there.

“People falling from the collapsing pillars, I spread the information to many people but no one took any action. I feel guilty as I couldn’t avail justice to those families.” Once Aaruni had read that part of Nand’s diary. He made his mind to search his father’s diary after returning from the village.

The truck moved forward. The Ganga Bridge was left behind. Ganga Bridge Colony came next, the witness of Aaruni’s childhood- school, home, playground, Ganga bridge godown. The stock was used to be smuggled from here many times. Sometimes those were caught by police. A big truck was caught one day. That truck had many wheels. People gathered there like it would be a fair. Kids were counting number of wheels- 14 or 16.

Aaruni had forgotten everything in race of his own life. Corruption, death of workers, father’s struggle everything was evoked suddenly.

“Everything has come to mind as a memory of father or this is a reminder of my father’s failure. Why did my father choose this name Aaruni for me?”

“Son! What did you say?” asked mother.

“Nothing, I just recalled the past by seeing that colony,” said Aaruni.

“Don’t see this colony.”

The memory of the Ganga Bridge colony had been an awful topic to be discussed while Nand was alive. Would that be continued for Aaruni as well? Aaruni’s mother was worried about that.

There was a long silence after that. The ice was broken when they reached village. In the sky a sparkling light seemed to move, it was not a comet but comet’s inferior variety.

The elder brother started crying to see the body of the younger.

“How can a younger brother leave the world before the elder one? You had never bother me for any reason while you were alive then why have you given me reason to cry?” bemoaned the elder brother. The villagers started gathering. No body had cooked meal after hearing that terrifying news. No body knew who telephoned about that news and who received the news first.

“The funeral should be held near the place where his father funeral was done in the mango orchard”, elder brother ordered so the pyre was made according to his will.

“Look at his face! How pleasant! Does he look like dead?” Nand’s elder brother said.

When Aaruni’s elder brother came forward to give flame to the pyre he became sentimental. His uncle consoled him. The body started diminishing in fire abolishing hope of return.

All arrangement was held as if it was some festive occasion. Everything was done according to the instructions of the priest known as Mahapatra or Kantaha Brahmin. Gadura Puran was described in every evening. In this was the rituals of funeral were completed.

Either tranquil or extreme agitation! Aaruni introspects his past and relapses into his memory.

Aaruni Thakur was not well and was staying alone in the apartment adjacent to the woodland nursing home where he often used to think about those days of his student life when apart of studying he was habituated to analyse the past events. The unpleasant moments were disturbing him every now and then. He used to share his grieves with his well-wishers to reduce them. But that trick also stopped working then he started hiding his facts and started staying cut out from the society. His friends presumed that his problems were solved. Aaruni had been dreaming about horrible things from his childhood. He still remembered how he used to start sweating in midnight and his worried parents used to fan him. Father is born by grandfather then who has given birth to the grandfather? If God is creator of everyone then who has created him? People used to laugh at such curiosity of Aaruni but when he read books of philosophy then he came to know that many saints had dedicated their entire life in searching answers of such querries but they never got answered. These unanswered questions restarted troubling him in his dreams. Sometimes he felt that he was in the open edge roof and started moving towards the edge without boundary. A mysterious gravity was pulling him, the gravitational force of a big hairy comet, until he was fallen down. Was that a direction life was moving in or a sign of future dangers. Aaruni couldn’t find the time when he went to sleep and later on he concluded that dream and sleep were two mysteries of human life which couldn’t be answered. Aaruni grew up. He entered into his student life by learning the shloka that was actually a prayer to the Goddess Saraswati – a Goddess of knowledge and learning following the second shlok which was a prayer to Shiva and Parvati. While reciting the second shlok Aaruni used to laugh loudly. Father thought that Aaruni would not take study as a punishment and would not get habbit of holding his head while sitting on the chair for studying if he would start studying at the young age. He learnt one to hundred in one sitting. He found it very easy to learn numbers from twenty one at it had some kind of rhyming. He was irritated with one habit of his mother. His mother used to neglect him when someone else was at home. His mother’s friend had come to his house one day. His mother was so much busy with her that she ignored him. Aaruni was holding a bunch of keys and he warned his mother that if he was not listened to then he would throw that bunch into the ditch in from of the house. His mother thought that if she would give value now then he could be more violent. So she ignored him. The result was same for either situation. The keys are still missing and still all almirahs have duplicate keys. These childhood memories brought a smile in Aaruni’s face. The father was often being troubled because of his principles so he was very eager to see Aaruni grown up. He got promotion from third class to fifth class. It was compulsory to go to village in every Holi and Durga Puja. Father returned by leaving everything. But his salary was stopped for a while so a letter came from village that they would have to stay in village. Mother started crying but Aaruni was very happy.
Mother started crying but Aaruni was very happy. The only difference brought by the new education system was that pupils were getting admission in junior classes by adding the name Naveen in their classes. Father was not happy with that and when he moved to city Aaruni got admission in class seven after passing class five in the village skipping the class six. Father’s instruction to complete maths and science of class six when Aaruni was in class five came to be fruitful here because he was only asked maths and science in entrance exam. He sat for class six and seven and selected for both. Aaruni could not be very confident whenever someone was talking about class six. While living in the village Aaruni once wrote letter to his dad because his shoes were left in the town. Shoes arrived with criticism of three mistakes done in writing letter and reminding him that he had solved only two questions in place of three in a race competition. He didn’t remember when the evil of aggression was born in him but he remembered that his father has given him a tip of meditation by reciting a shlok ten times. Once he fought with a classmate and his classmate hurted his head with the slate board. He also raised his hand to hit him but he stopped considering that it would hurt his friend. The consequence of that incident made two changes. First was that his slate board with iron border was replaced by a slate board with wooden border. The second and very important change was that a new school in the colony was inaugurated by his father. Later on, whenever some priest started giving him advice of wearing pearl rind on small finger or reading Sunderkand he used to recall the tip of reciting those Sanskrit Shloks. His childish attitude of feeling humiliated in asking for help and compromising was still present in him. But he lost the spirit to fight by neglecting the difference between victory and defeat was not present in him especially after the death of his father. Gradually, he started believing in achievements and victory. He got help from all those people whom he had helped at the time of need. The compromise done by him time to time eased his struggles. His friend circle was big enough to be managed by him. Then he didn’t have any need to have more friends in new place. The ambition was endless. And the art of living life of each individual was different too. Aaruni- that name was not commonly heard at home. The city of Kolkata respects talent. But to qualify in entering business world there needed to know Benguli which he learnt while walking in the streets of Kolkata. In his busy life he used to take rest only when he was ill. Whenever he was ill and sitting idle he used to recall his habit of thinking. And he called his mother to stay with him when he bought a flat. However he was very sure that those things would not impress his mother because she was wife of an officer so she wanted her son to be so. That city had increased the portion of completion in respect of principle in the life style of her son. It was the impact of busy life that her son was getting any time to think only when he was on bed.  It was the impact of busy life that her son was getting any time to think only when he was on bed. Aaruni was working in a paper printing press before being successful in the business. He agreed to work on percentage in stead of salary with the owner of the press who was also his friend. After getting customer’s order he used to make binding and printing work done. He had started his own printing work gradually. Some people used to print material in his press and then they were selling it outside so Aaruni applied a trick. He started including a calendar with his press name printed on it in each bundle. When the ultimate consumers came to know that they were giving place for the mediator unnecessarily then they started contacting Aaruni. Aaruni was hardly hearing his name at his home. The name printed on the book was name of a company and he never found that name very associable. His father died because of crookedness of the world but by virtue of his intelligent brain he was winning the battle of business. The name Aaruni was heard many times after mother came. When his friends used to narrate the stories of success of Aaruni in business to his mother Aaruni used to feel very shy and he always tried to divert the topic.
 His mother was determined to arrange his marriage. When his mother became crabby then he was very uncomfortable like it was his monopoly to be stubborn. But mother was sure that her son was changed to be practical and no crabbier. On the other hand Aaruni thought that it was time to pay as he used to trouble his parents in his childhood because of his obstinate nature. Marrige then child.....Mother saw the face of her husband in her grandson. Her son was turned very practical and adjustable before death of her husband. But now it would not continue. Her grandson would not believe in compromise. He would do whatever his grandfather and father desired to do and couldn’t. So she kept her grandson’s name as a combination of her husband’s name and son’s name that was Aaruni Nand. Again the same sequence of life begun..........beginning of study with the same Shloka – Sate Bhavatu Supreeta........... Her son was taught by her husband, she was busy in looking after her family in that time but currently her daughter-in-law was looking after domestic works and son was too busy to give time to child so she started teaching her grandson.

“Utpatsyet himam kopi samandharma kalohyam nirvadhir vipula cha prithvi”
 The earth is very big and time is endless so I have faith that someone will make my efforts fruitful. Aaruni felt an unusual distance from his mother. He was little bit ill and lost in analysing his past while studying alone in an apartment near the Woodland Nursing Home. He was young enough to be eligible in sit in the competitive exams for the government job so he sat in exams and very soon he became the Central Government’s grade ‘B’ officer wearing uniform. Even if it was not class one job mother was happy that he left business and joined a government job.

“Come, have some food, you cannot live like that”, his younger maternal uncle admonished him. The rituals of funeral were completed. It was time to recrudesce to profession as well as family life.

November, 1995:

Aaruni with complete shaved head returned to Patna via Darbhanga by bus. He confronted many hawkers on the bus. First of all one bookseller came and distributes many books among the travellers. He narrated names and qualities of the books with a few rhyming sentences- stories, first aid tips, foolan devi, manohar pothi etc. Some of his books were bought by the passengers after some bargaining and rest were collected by the seller. While returning he had some argument with the bus conductor. Next was inventor of lemon juice extractor who demonstrated his instrument and left the bus after having argument with the bus conductor. The comb seller, pen seller, schrew seller etc. visited the bus and left as well. The comb seller, pen seller, screw-seller etc. visited the bus and left as well. It was only known when asked that the bus was to be started at 11 o’clock instead of 10 o’clock as announced by the conductor. The previous bus had not found enough passengers so the driver played that trick as a marketing tool. By that trick the bus was not very late and got enough passengers too. The bus was to start at 11 o’clock but it took 5 minutes after 11 o’clock to confirm that time mark of 11 was past. Later on at 10 past 11 when the conductor of next bus announced that he would start fighting if the bus would be late any more and for that he gave reference of fight between Ashok Mishra and Shahi. Then the driver started sounding the horn continuously. The old lady in the adjacent seat started calling her son. Everything had been disturbed for next five minutes. No sooner all passengers came inside the bus. A few people had just came out of rickshaw the conductor of next bus tried to load his luggage on his bus but they were educated people and they were intended to catch the current bus. Those passengers had given them reference of some Chaudhary guys then the conductor was convinced that they were powerful people so he only said that if they wanted to go by standing in a three by two seater overcrowded bus instead of two by two empty one even though there would not be any concession in charges then it was their choice. After grabbing a few more passengers from people coming by rickshaw at last moment the bus started its journey. An elderly man was one of those last moment passengers. Co-incidentally a passenger sitting besides Aaruni was murmuring that why he had not come and after some time he got off the bus in next stop. And in that way that elderly man got seat adjacent to Aaruni.
Aaruni was quiet and he wasn’t in the mood of speaking a lot. But that man first appreciated his good luck by virtue of which he got the seat. He would be late in his mission if he could have missed that bus and waited for the next bus. Then he continued his conversation by introducing himself as an assistant director and he also informed that he had two houses one in Patna and another in Darbhanga. He built his both houses by his own efforts. He also mentioned that both houses were double stories and floors were made up of marbles and granites. The chatting people always like company of a good listener so he started liking Aaruni.
He asked Aaruni “Which colony in Patna is your house situated at?. ”
Aaruni replied, “I don’t have my own house, I live in rented house.”
After a moment of silence that man brought beetle leave out of the paan case and broke the ice again by asking Aaruni if he ate paan or not.
“No”, Aaruni replied precisely according to his personality.
“Your teeth made me to guess so earlier”, said that man.
After chewing beetle leaves he started talking about in-laws of his daughters. He talked about his son’s preparation for I.A.S. exams and he also talked about a group of such students who prepare for such exams. He said that only talented people got accepted by the group and at last he mentioned that his son was a member of that group.
After travelling a while the bus stopped in a line hotel. Many passengers expressed their anger that the driver and conductor stopped in such a bad place for their food. It was suspected that their food was free of charge rather the price was charged indirectly to the passengers who ate there so ultimately passengers used to pay for their food. So those people suggested that no body should get off the bus then they would have to start the bus. But after some time people started getting off the bus one by one and at last those intellectuals also came out of bus by chatting about analytical review of reasons of bad condition of Mithilanchal where they found people’s such attitude due to which their request to not to get off the bus was neglected as one of the vital reasons. The bus was restarted but couldn’t continue uninterrupted very long. The conductor instructed everyone to get the bus off as tyre was punctured. The person who disliked stopping at the line hotel was of the opinion that the journey was disturbed because of that halt. Let’s see what happens now. Groups of four-five people were made and started talking by standing in circles. That place was perhaps somewhere close to Vaishali. One of them found the farmers’ fields of that village in bigger pieces. The houses were also bigger in his opinion. Proceeding in the same topic people also discussed that houses in their villages were very congested and creating causes of day-to-day quarrels among the villagers.

The elderly person sitting on the adjacent seat to Aaruni was sleepy and he awake because of that trouble. Aaruni noticed that the man used to be very calm at line hotel and at the moment of that break down. But as soon as the bus restarted he started his chatting again. His memories became brighter when he came to Hazipur.
When bus moved further for a while then he said pointing to a colony, “this is Ganga Bridge Colony, what it was earlier and what it is now. Earlier there used to be quarters in one side and materials for maintenance work on the other side.”
Aaruni was shocked, “there used to be a school as well”.
He pointed to something in front, “Look at there, name is still written, some letters however disappeared because of rain.”
Then he asked surprisingly- “how do you know all this?”
“I studied in this school.”
“But here only engineers of the Ganges Bridge Project were allowed to stay and that school was made for their children.”
“We used to live in this colony.”
“What is your father’s name?”
“Mr. Nand Thakur”
It was only fifteen days past the death of his father so he couldn’t dare to add late in his name.
“Are you son of Thakurji”, while asking that he was filled with motherliness rather than merely an attachment.
“What is your good name?” asked Aaruni.
“I. A. Aazam”, he replied.
Then Aaruni recited all of his children’s names. One of his sons called Nehal Aazam was studying in Aaruni’s class. Aaruni’s voice was totally changed after that.
“Two people in the colony were very religious, one was Pandeyji and other was your father. Pandeyji used to earn money by that profession too but your father was very honest and kind. He collected subscriptions from the residents of the colony to bring homeopathy medicines and distributed those among needy residents free of cost. My daughter had a boil on her head and no allopathic medicine could cure her. Your father had cured her boil. Even though he was an engineer by profession he had degree in homeopathy as well. “
Aaruni recalled the coloured small bottles used for giving medicine that used to decorate his drawing room.
“Where is he posted nowadays? We got disconnected. We never got transferred to the same place after that place. It had been around fifteen years since we met last.”
“He died fifteen days back.”
“Oh! It is my fault. I did not ask you even if you had your head shaved. That is why you have been so silent all the way.”
He continued, “He was very worried about the workers.”
The bus came to the Ganga Bridge meanwhile. Bus was in a queue at the gate to get ticket. Someone informed that the traffic on the bridge was like one way as some repairing work was going on. Aaruni recalled the scene of past -the huge pillars during building of the bridge then the scenario of broken walls of the colony. That wall used to break every year. Father said that the contractor and engineers were united in that fraudulent act. Then he recalled the bribe of suitcase filled with notes. Aaruni’s father kicked the suitcase and suitcase was thrown away. One cousin brother was living with them who collected that money and returned to the contractor. Mother had hidden her sons inside the house. Mother had hidden her sons inside the house. Once, Nand took Aaruni to the pillars of the bridge in the river by a steamer. Nand said-
-see the pillar in construction of which many labours fell into the river, around hundred people or even more. Families of only a few dead workers could get compensation. Other names were not listed nor did anyone try to find those. In spite of that all engineers are still associated with the contractor.

Aaruni suddenly came out of those past memories. He got off the bus and revised the list of dead workers printed on the pillar. Names of a few people were listed there; perhaps people who couldn’t get compensation were not named in that list. Aaruni and Aazam Saheb caught the bus without delay when bus was to restart.
He asked again, “you say that you live in a rental house in Patna”.
“Yes, I went to the village for funeral of my father, mother will not be comfortable in that house after death of father. So she stayed in the village. Now I will search a new house in Patna. I however work in Calcutta.”
“Oh! After working for thirty years in P.W.D. he couldn’t make a single house. People did many things. I had started living with principles of your father after 1981. The houses I have made those are double storied for namesake only. There is one unfinished rooms in each of my houses. What had the government given to your father? He never worked to get fame. Everyone was wishing to go to works division but he always liked to go to non-works division.”
Then he asked Aaruni, “What do you do?”
“Father, mother and brother were living in Patna. I am in Intelligence Department in Calcutta. Sometimes I remain in uniform and sometimes I am not allowed to use that.”
“Visit me in Patna as well as in Darbhanga. Bring your mother. My wife will be very happy to see you. Nehal is in Patna nowadays.”
Then he got off the bus in Patna Harding Park Bus Stand by giving his both residential addresses with his hands having affectionate touch.

Aaruni used to be happy by seeing Hording while coming from out of Patna. But after death of his father he lost his affection for this city and he will have to struggle to live in this city from now. Why such incidents were happening around him in sequence? How co-incidentally did Aazam Saheb meet him on that day? Why he did not meet him in last fifteen years? What does His grace wants from him?
He caught a rickshaw to go to his home. He restarted thinking.

Father had once stomach pain at 2 o’clock in the night after eating jack fruit. He was too nervous to get the idea to ask Shravanji, his neighbour for help to call a doctor. Actually he had the idea but he never had talked to him before so he couldn’t dare to ask for help in need on that day. Mother knocked the doors of neighbours and kept on crying. One of the neighbours called the doctor then father’s life was saved. Mother was cursing as well as saying “people say not to cry because you have a five years old son and you all.....worthless, you will pay for everything, I will die.” Sister was studying in college. She had to go on feet. The school of Aaruni and his brother was situated little bit further to the college. Sister said to both of them to go with her. They even went one day but both brothers kept on going fastly without talking to each other and they were trying not to be recognised by other boys as brothers of her. Now he thinks that what was wrong if people could have recognised them as brothers of her. It was his personality disorder. When he grew up he started complaining about his parent’s over protective nature to him. According to him his parents tried to protect them from the evils of outside world. They didn’t allow him to talk to neighbours and didn’t make him bold enough to make friends. His parents such restrictions made him nostalgic and shy. He used to dream about his parents fights and get up because of fear. Aaruni had many fights with his elder brother and sister. But once he cried and shouted a lot after witnessing quarrel between mother and father. Before that incident he had a conflict with his siblings and he was not talking to them. Every time, his elders were starting talk with him. But after that incident he cried and initiated talking to his sister and after they never fought. Brother was having very short age gap so he often had quarrels with him but with his sister that was reduced a lot.
For all those problems mother blamed his father. Mother never stopped him talking to neighbours, known people and relatives. It was father’s fault only. Aaruni once wanted to buy Globe. The demand was postponed many times by saying that it would be bought next time. Aaruni stopped studying. Then he got the globe. Sister still says that during the process of fulfilling his desire to buy a globe Aauni lost his interest in studies. His rank in class fell down and father started finding Tantrik to cure that. He even found one Tantrik. They lived in village for quite a long period. There was an accountant babu in the Ganga Bridge Colony. He informed his father that he did not accept bribe but his wife did so. After that all of them were sent to village. After that all of them were sent to village. Salary was stopped for some period after transfer in all Bihar government jobs. So Nand sent his family to village after each transfer. One letter from Nand reached village addressing mother. Aaruni read that. It was written to his mother to return the money if she had taken the bribe. He had called the vigilance for clarification so if money would be found at home in raid then it would defame his name.

In such a stressful period Aaruni tried to forget all tension when he was in school. He had worn the artificial laughter in his face. He made that his habit. He started admiring his family. People were already praising Nand’s honesty. Aaruni was not intended to disclose the peaceless environment of his house as he thought people would laugh at that. He kept on surviving in the endangered reputation of honesty of his family. The habit of thinking and lack of confidence in decision making were associated with him in such a way that his all activities were affected, it followed him in the same way as the comet did in his life,  either it was getting to sleep or reading and writing. He had just finished half yearly examination of class ten. He solved one question of Commerce but that was wrong. Then he tried twice and then thrice. He knew answers to all questions but he was stuck to the first question. He concealed the copy under his shirt. And when he came out to drink water he came direct to house. He often lost in thought while studying. He spent an hour in one page in such situation. He went to the zoo once. Some relatives met him there. They were very hi-fi people. However they did not say anything but their look and behaviour made Aaruni feeling inferior. He disappeared himself in crowd and returned home. He didn’t have money in his pocket so he walked. On the other hand everyone was wondering where he had gone. When everyone reached home then he accepted their guess that he was really lost. He didn’t reveal the truth to anyone. All whom he met asked him if he was son of him and then praised his father by calling him Godlike person. His father had to make payslip to withdraw salary in his office. Once, Aaruni got the job of getting payslip. The clerk requested staff to make his father’s play slip without taking money. Colleagues as well as contractors were not happy with his father. The colleagues had problem that he was neither earning bribes himself nor was he giving others the chance to do so. Once, when all went village after transfer, the elder brother, who used to steal good plants from others to plant in own garden, had turned very timid and became one of those boys sitting on the back seat in the classroom within a year. That was unusually longer stay in the village after a transfer. Later on, a candidate of the Chief Minster’s post came to ask for vote then his uncle met that leader and requested for transfer of his father from works to non-works job for sake of children. The leader assured that if he would win he would do that. He said that he got many requests for transfer to works but that one first case where someone was asking for non-works job. Fortunately that leader won the election and elected to be the Chief Minister. He did one favour to us after taking oath that he transferred Aaruni’s father to non-works job. Nand’s family came to the town again. Once, when they were living in village, a friend of brother of Aaruni said something on some other context.
According to that guy his mother’s behaviour was very aggressive and she was habituated to quarrel at the time of eating. But he had seen someone more aggressive than her on that day.
Aaruni was witnessing the quarrels resulting from financial crisis. He still becomes stressed when he recalls those two incidents. One was the month of deduction of income tax i.e. March. This incident repeats every year. But the tax increased enough to deduct all of salary of March in that year. Mother said that how all would get food. All would have to beg. But Nand sent a postcard to one of his nephews in the village and he dropped Rs. 800 to his door then she came out of fear of insecurity. Aaruni is still thrilled whenever he sees someone begging. Other incident was an accident that occurred in front of his house after which his brother had stopped eating and started crying that resulted in his red eyes. When Nand tried to console him then he asked that what would happen to all of them if Nand died. Father, calculated insurance benefit, G.P.F., gratuity and told him that they would get Rs. 99,000 immediately. Father kept on informing the elder son for an hour.

Once Aaruni’s uncle (husband of sister of his father) visited him. All still felt much secured when someone visited them. Since Aaruni was brother-in-law of that person so japing was also included in their conversation. He said that there was a B.D.O. sahib in Jhanjharpur who was as honest as Nand. His father was fisherman. He suffered a lot to survive and become an officer. But he also had only a cot in the name of possession like Nand had at his home. He also said to Nand that why he had become an officer. He should have stayed in the village to eat fish and rice on his cot. He could have found the business of fishery more profitable.
After marriage of Aaruni’s sister his brother-in-law often visited his house. Aaruni’s parents started quarrelling as soon as their son-in-law was seen because of lack of proper arrangements at home. Father started his mission to punish the culprits accepting bribes after transfer. And when he lost his faith in system of the Government then he went to a tantrik. The conflicts between parents were increased. Once Aaruni had big argument with his father and he started crying by hugging his two siblings. The quarrel between siblings vanished thereafter.
Aaruni reached home murmuring with confusion.

He had gone out to search a rental house between 2-3 pm and returned in the evening. And in the evening the same relapse into memory-

He was coming home from the school one day.

He was not feeling well while returning home. He was coming from school. Everyone was talking about possibility of happening of something impossible. Aaruni with his brother was reading in class seven, together. But since his elder brother was suffering from stomach ache on that day so he took leave from school after recession. Whenever he saw pupils laughing in the school he remembered the condition of his home. He was jealous of those children’s luck. Sometimes he wished that they should have same family condition as his. But he always pretended to be happy. He was scared of his parents’ quarrel at home. He often felt that such conditions would never leave him. He could neither discuss about that nor could he reveal his inner grief to anyone. He was too shy to call anyone for help in need. Mother was very honest to call him timid, coward etc. Outing in evening, visiting fair of Durga Puja , those things were far away from life. There was an earthquake in that area. Everyone came out of house by breaking the grill but Aaruni was resting on his bed. Some reason behind that was laziness and rest because of suicidal thought. He thought that there would be no harm if house would be broken and fallen down on him as he would get rid of his entire problem when he would die.
When he reached near his house he was in panic worrying about his father’s wellness. He asked his mother and sister that how his father was. When everyone started consoling him he became more irritated.

He cried loudly, “Is father dead? Where is his dead body?“
Then his sister replied, “No, nothing happened to him. Your friend, his younger brother, his father and the rickshaw driver all were going in the rickshaw. That poor rickshaw driver had just brought his newly wedded wife home. Four of them died on spot when a truck hit them.

Aaruni stopped crying. The misfortune had knocked other’s door that time. However, one of the dead persons had been his class mate for last eighteen months and they were going to school together daily. He was ringing door bell every morning and that boy was coming downstairs to accompany him to the school. He recalled that he as usual rang the call bell yesterday too and his sister who was wearing spectacles and was very high tempered informed Aaruni that her brother was coming and she also complained that he was pushing the bell for very long time and repeatedly. He recalled that he as usual rang the call bell yesterday too and his sister who was wearing spectacles and was very high tempered informed Aaruni that her brother was coming and she also complained that he was pushing the bell for very long time and repeatedly. Aaruni waited for him yesterday but he clarified the fact that he would not ring the bell from the next day so if the boy wanted his company then he had to come before he left. Since, he hadn’t come on that day so he went to school without ringing the bell. It was the first time in past eighteen months when Aaruni had not rang the bell and he missed the school. Aaruni was frightened if that boy had told his family about his idea of not ringing the bell from the next time at the time of going to school. Then he thought that the boy might have some other work. After all he was going with in father and younger brother. In that way Aaruni was not sad but worried. To hide his thoughts he was standing calm with a mask of grief on his face. He only had the idea of not going to school with that boy from the next day. Let him go alone. But he had proven that he wouldn’t go school alone. The eyes of mother of Aaruni were filled up with tears but Aaruni was happy as his fear of father’s death was falsified.

As soon as they got new rental house both brothers shifted their house and brought their mother from the village.
Aaruni joined his job.

“No, there is nothing like that, we have to do this as a part of our duty.”

“But, don’t you think you all have turned very rude this time?”

“There is no question of being rude. We take action on the basis of some reliable information.”

“Suppose I have enmity with someone and he uses your help to fulfil his personal enmity and selfishness.”

“Do you suspect any particular person?”

“No, I was just giving an example.”

“No, we don’t take action on the basis of any information. First we investigate that information then we get permission to search.”

“Will I ever be resuming my respect even if you will certify me faultless after this incident?”

“Will I ever be resuming my respect even if you will certify me faultless after this incident?”

“We will have to sit idle in this way. Well, your statement is also logical. If someone has done this out of envy then we will do needful work against him too.”

“What action will you take against him? Action is already taken on me. All buyers are broken. We are so old in this business. We have been working in this business for last three generations. If possible then prefer clandestine removal. Who will believe that you didn’t get any thing after raiding all sheds?”

He was not wrong. That businessman of plywood was known for his class one work, but the information Aaruni got was just opposite. Anyways, that raid was in vain. Teams from factory, house, and dealers’ offices – all returned barehanded. The company was famous. Officers were scared and they had opted Aaruni for this job considering his personal reputation. Phone calls from the headquarter started coming to Aaruni one after one. Morning arrived while finishing raids. He had to submit report till 10 am. The owner of the factory had also expressed his anger to Aaruni. The company named Swarnaply had approach to Delhi too. Being tired of such situations Aaruni reached home in the morning. He switched off the mobile phone and tried to sleep after setting the alarm clock for 9 o’clock. The raid had been going on from yesterday. How can this happen? Why couldn’t any thing for clandestine removal found anywhere? Was that plan leaked before action? But that case was only known to the director of vigilance apart from Aaruni. He was thinking those things on the bed. He couldn’t sleep but alarm rang at 9 in the morning.

It seemed that everyone was waiting for him. Many people told him that intelligence information of such cases had been received by them too but they never tried to do that job as proving clandestine removal case was very tough in such situations. Gossips started that he was trying to be hero and finally would come out with a transfer order from the director’s room.

Aaruni entered the director’s room and asked for more time straight away. He diverted the topic and didn’t disclose his plan. He didn’t want to take any chance that time.

Aaruni started working away from the factory of Swarnaply and its dealers. He read all documents very carefully. He also noted something on paper. Then according to his plan he started from Kolkata to Patna and then from Patna to Arariya.

He didn’t chew beetle leaves and he liked to have tea only at home. But if he had to collect information from people then it was impossible to success without going to tea and paan shop. So he started chewing paan and sipping tea. And the pan with gulkand of Babul dada’s shop was tasty too. In return Babul dada had given him list of all plywood factories in that area. But the wrecked condition of roads was dependent on God’s grace. Aaruni managed to go through the path filled with dust and dirt to one factory that was supplying materials to the Swarnaply. The security guard at the gate said that the owner visited other factory. In that way Aaruni knew that there were two factories.

Aaruni reached another factory after a tiring journey where one Marwari guy was manager.

“Where are you coming from?”

“I am coming from Patna but don’t know how I will return.”

“Oh yes, one person assassinated a leader by firing gun. However, the leader was in jail but he came out of Purniya Jail to have a tour against the law. What can the jailor do? A jailor hadn’t allowed a prisoner to go out for a walk last month then the jailor was shot to death in the Bhatta bazaar. And this time the new jailer who gave permission to the prisoner to go out is suspended from his job. Curfew is announced in the town after that death. Stay with me. I am living in my guest house. My family is in Silliguri. I am not married yet. I have to go to Calcutta in the morning next day. I will go to Silliguri by my own vehicle so I will change my root while going there to drop you at Purniya bus stop.”

Aaruni liked the fact that the youth was a chatty person. He had long chatting with him in the night at the guesthouse. The subduing workers of the leader were collecting subscription forcibly.

“There will be loss without applying clandestine in such situation. Yes, it is unavoidable. Such leaders are responsible for this. What can businessmen do? “

Then the Marwari guy named Naval had looked at Aaruni cunningly. Aaruni thought where that guy had some suspicion on him.

Aaruni thought that guy had some suspicion on him.

“No we have the principle of not going for clandestine. Some adjustments are needed to be done for this.”

Aaruni remembered how the owner of the Swarnaply said that he would like to go for clandestine removal.

Then how do they work? However that factory in Arariya was doing factory work of Swarnaply and all federal duties of that factory were handled by the Swarnaply. Even if he considered clandestine that was not useful as tax was paid by the Swarnaply.

Meanwhile, phone rang. Since ring sounded long so there was no doubt that it was an STD call. Suddenly that boy became silent by looking at Aaruni after receiving the call.

The cook who was addressed as Jha by Naval announced that food was ready. Aaruni and Naval had formal conversation. Both slept afterwards. As per he agreed that boy dropped Aaruni at Purniya bus stop in the morning.
Aaruni asked Naval before getting off, “There is an office of Swarnaply in Calcutta. Are you going there?”

He laughed.

“You are in vigilance. The STD call I received yesterday was from Calcutta office. Someone from your department had revealed them about your Arariya trip. Look, I told you that I only do adjustment. What benefit do I get from that? I am not a tax payee. Yes, I get job because of that. And some provisions for petty expenses, leaders, departments etc are fulfilled from it. That’s all.”

The boy left after saying that.

When Aaruni reached Patna office everyone knew that Aaruni toured that factory at the cost of government for which tax was exempted by the government.

Aaruni returned to Calcutta after meeting the director in Patna. He kept on searching police stations to find whether any recorded case was present against the Swarnaply or any of its employees. But the Swarnaply had very well established goodwill there from the beginning. Now Aaruni was in a fix. The company was hiding its tax liability worth crores of rupees by manipulating input output ratio but there was no proof.

Aaruni left his phone number at those police stations and instructed them to inform him if any case against the Swarnaply or its employe was found. He denied to submit closure report to his local director and said that he was still watching in case some information was fetched.
He denied to submit closure report to his local director and said that he was still watching in case some information would be fetched.

Six months later:

There was STD ring in the morning.

“I am calling from the Calcutta Salt Lake police station. Some has filed a case that he was robbed of his suitcase containing some cash and cheques by the auto rickshaw driver when he was returning from the Swarnaply office after receiving the payment.”

“How much cash and what value of cheques?”

“1 lakh and 79 thousands of Cash and cheques worth 1 lakh and 83 thousands of Rupees. Perhaps he has some insurance for cash so he filed F.I.R. Cheques can be stopped.”

Aaruni with his team made a raid on that person’s house whose money was stolen by the auto driver.
He received a diary during the raid. He called the Patna office next and requested for the newest returns of removal of factory in Arariya to be availed to him. The person on whose house raid was made brought to his office. He came to know on the way that the person was brother-in-law of Naval. Apart from being the accountant of factory of Arariya he was a liaison officer of the Swarnaply Company and the factory in Arariya.

Now all facts were crystal clear. The diary retrieved had columns of cash and cheques. Details were present with dates. The cheque total was reconciled with clearance of the factory of Arariya and it was also proved that almost half payment of all transactions of the Swarnaply was paid in cash details of which were neither present in the books of the Swarnaply nor were those recorded in the books of the factory at Arariya. Swarnaply was paying tax for only cheque payments which was around half of the real transaction. Aaruni had submitted that report to the local director.

The crime of the accountant was bailable so the court released him on bail.

“Tell me about Naval. He is a good person. But he didn’t tell me anything.”

“He died in a road accident occurred or might me created intentionally while he was going to Silliguri from Arariya. I with my son-in-law will go directly to him after finishing here.”
One person who had come to receive the accountant informed excitedly.
 The son-in-law said-
“You must agree that you got this opportunity only because of my foolishness. If I would have not been greedy for retrieving cash through insurance claim then this couldn’t happen.”

The director ordered for action against the Swarnaply. The show-cause notice was also removed from the scandal of tax theft of crores of rupees by the Swarnaply. Aaruni was worried.

“Naval was right. He was only doing adjustment. The real theft was done by someone else. He was only a mediator. Even I feel to be a medium for Naval’s death.”

With the success in profession Aaruni’s success in job was also starts. Whether he would be a cause other’s problem or not he would never be defeated like his father. He recalled his past time to time.

“I say, do you listen to me. Our daughter is growing up. You have not done anything for your sons. Our house is also not possessed. Where will we live after retirement?”

“I say, do you listen to me. Our daughter is growing up. You have not done anything for your sons. Our house is also not possessed. Where will we live after retirement?”

“Don’t bother about daughter. Groom’s family will approach us. They are getting more facilities than what we got. Now putting effort in studies is up to them. We will live in the village after retirement. We won’t come to town in our next seven births.”

“If any relatives come we won’t have enough arrangement to welcome them.”

“Why do we need special arrangement? Just add some more rice in boiling water.”
Aaruni brought up by hearing such conversation. Once, one relative visited the hospital to see father. He was also talking in the same manner.

“What you did with your body? You didn’t even feel emotion for these kids. Where do they study? You didn’t have any facility nor did you have any responsibility. You have spoiled your life as well as theirs.

Meanwhile, there was some interruption. His wife informed him that there is a phone call for him on hold.

“Aaruni, a big politics is going on in the office. Conspiracy is being plotted against you. It’s my job to alarm you. But you don’t show any reaction.”

“What happened? Should I be scared like my father? To be a saint after being frustrated of a few defeats or to abolish the culprits- what would you have opted out of these two options.

“Don’t bother”, Aaruni said this with a chuckle and hanged up the phone.

One lobby of office was following Aaruni. Aaruni was under pressure after transfer. Some people had complained baselessly against him. One office named Shashak was master mind behind that. His favoured staffs were not posted according to his suggestions so he was intended to stop Aaruni’s promotion. Aaruni’s phone connection was dead for some days during that period. Afterwards some calls to Abu Dhabi and Dubai were made from that phone. However, to make an ISD call from a government connection one had to take permission. One of the Administrative persons in Aaruni’s office had availed that facility to Aaruni’s connection by applying in writing without informing Aaruni. He said to the vigilance investigators that since Aaruni was senior to him he had to obey his verbal orders many times. So he had applied for ISD facility to Aaruni following his verbal order. The mafia has induced him and that Administrative officer also got himself trapped into it.

A fax came on Monday and Aaruni was transferred.

“Represent against this order”, the same familiar voice of Manindra.

“Why are you involved in these matters? Everything will be fine”, Aaruni said.

A party was held in Shashank’s house.

“Mr. Aaruni didn’t even represent for this. He left being relieved. It was like he had surrendered.”

“Promotion will be stopped for next ten year. Seniority will be lost. His name was defamed in addition. He was caught for talking to the smugglers of Dubai.”

Aaruni recalled his father’s transfer, struggle for honesty, failure in struggle and involving himself in tantra and worship afterwards; then he lost interest in home, office and all worldly possessions. The lines of worries are drawn on the face of Aaruni. But that couldn’t stay longer. He had changed his defeat into his victory many times whether it was job or business.

“Hey! Manindra! No phone calls for a long time! You people have forgotten me after my transfer out of state.”

“Why me only, every one had forgotten you here.”

“What do you think? I forgot everything. Do you remember? When I have opted Arts subject against father’s will. I threw all books of science into the pond at 11 o’clock in the night. I had not even left any residue for those books. And when I got first division marks in Arts then I visited village. Before that I missed many marriages, deaths and births. But I didn’t go there.”

“Hey! Brother! You remember everything. I thought you were also turned like uncle. These people don’t deserve pity. Just teach them lesson. Now I have faith that something will happen.”

“Again the same thing! If you have not changed then how can I. I had left you free for some days. Now listen. Do what I tell you to do. Don’t speak a lot. You know very well that my phone was dead for the period when ISD calls were made from the phone. A complaint was also made to the telephone department for that from home. But that was made on phone. No evidence of written document or receipt is available. Just find out whether the telephone department has records of such complaints or not.”

Manidra informed that the telephone department restarted giving complaint number from one after one month. So that didn’t work.

“Well, then try to find out what numbers and who were called from my number. And what are the phone numbers where call had been made from that foreigner’s number.”

“Yes, I just missed this fact.”

Now when Manindra brought list of telephone numbers, all were numbers of the telephone booths. No call was made to Aaruni’s phone.

At the time of hearing of vigilance when Aaruni explained those facts then Shashank was shocked. It was good for him as Shashank’s men were in touch with those booth owners otherwise all of them as well as Shanshank would be trapped. So Aaruni was released from the enquiry.

“Buddy, this is Manindra. Nothing happened to them.”

“I am transferred to Delhi. I will see. Just relax.”

“I became relaxed when you recalled past that day. You had to take revenge of insult of Kaka (uncle). Faces are changed. Situation is the same.”

Aaruni was posted to the information technology department of vigilance in Delhi. The department was known as Shunting posting department. Even being released from the enquiry of vigilance, Aaruni opted for that department. That showed that he was tired. He will be sitting at the corner for next five years. Shashank’s group was very happy.

On the other hand, Aaruni restarted his science that he had left in college. He was engaged with computer and its specialists for whole day. They had also seen such staff after a long time who was engaged in work so dedicatedly. Other people were merely completing their terms.

However, that department was very sensitive. Now, Aaruni was very friendly with his colleagues. All applications were being forwarded in time. New equipments were installed in the office. Earlier, officers were intended to pass the office hours and rush out of office. They were not even fulfilling the necessary necessities of the office.

One phone was installed in the office to practice anti-corruption. It had facility to record telephone calls of smugglers.

Time passed like that for some days.

“Manindra! No phone calls from you”.

“I am relaxed now”.

“Yes, it is time now. Do one thing. Publish the news of relation between Shashank and the smugglers in the news paper. Everything is ready for next.”

No sooner the news was published, the public relation officer of the Minister, who had work of informing the minister about news by submitting the clippings of the news had submitted the clipping of that news to the Minister. Time was not good so there were many charges on the area Minister; session of the parliament was going on those days so the Minister didn’t take any chance. He ordered for the enquiry on the issue.

The case came to the vigilance department. There was an interim meeting for that in which the department of information technicians was also invited.

Date of appointment was fixed. Aaruni attended the meeting as a member of vigilance committee. In most of the cases the department usually gives no objection certificate.

“No charge on Shashank is proved. Aaruni, your department was availed with Telephone Taping equipment. But in our office, even a fax machine is installed after six months of purchase. Then this machine must be kept uninstalled or any conversation is recorded.”

“Sir, this machine was brought on the 1st of this month and its use was started on the same date. The name of the smugglers involved in this case calls of whom were permitted to be recorded by me is given to you. Shashank had first conversation with some of them for a negligible length of time- two conversations each for only half a minute. The second dialogue was at 9 p.m. and the call goes to our staff after that conversation for only half a minute.”

“What is date of this?”


“There was a raid on the sixth and nothing was found on that day. Give me details of these phone calls, Aaruni.”

“Shashank says on first conversation to come to his house at eight o’clock and meet him. It was important talk. In the second call he is angry and says that it is night o’clock and he has not yet come. There is a reply from the smuggler in this call that he is on the gate of Shashank’s house.”

“What is the third conversation?”

“The third call is made by the smuggler to the office staff. He orders to come to the office and he is also coming there. There is nothing more. No evidence could be found for this so if you allow me I can give no objection certificate.”

“Aaruni! What are you saying? Your department had not done anything so useful until today. You have discovered all links. Shashank says to meet him. The smuggler says that he is at the gate. Why does the employee go to the office so late? Shashank leaked the plan of raid and the employee removed all evidences. My staff returned empty handed when they made raid next morning. Now make one more call. Shashank’s number was not taped so according to law the sound in tape should match with his sample voice. When he picks the phone up just say wrong number and hang up.”

“As you wish.”

The procedure was rendered immediately.

“This is open and shut case.” The chief of the vigilance committee informed the fact to the director. The director called Shashank and gave him two options,

“Shashank! After these evidences you have only two options. You have to take compulsory retirement or the enquiry will be carried on.”

Shashank went for compulsory retirement. He left the department.

“Brother Manindra! No phone calls from you.”

“Brother I am relaxed from that day when I found that you remember everything of your childhood. There is no difference between you and Kaka. Only your ways are different. To make you to go for this way of victory I had prompted you many times. Do you remember that? But when you started telling me everything of your childhood I became relaxed from then only.”

“The progress graph of his study was fluctuating with his father. But he retreated to get success. Such incident happened even when he was in job.

Aaruni had a road accident. An accident occurred after a government tour. He stood on his feet after staying 15 days in ventilator and one year on support. That boy who used to write diary- where he is now? That boy was a mystic storyteller, everything that he wrote was truth, he was foretelling the future life of Aaruni. In Aaruni’s diary those incidents got printed-

“Due to lack of time I, i.e., Aaruni started missing the opportunity to talk about us. The reason was first of all my own habits and after that my accident, because of why one and half years of my life passed like one and a half days, uselessly. I was also keen to make up that loss. Then I tried to reduce my social contact which was achieved without any effort as it seemed that I had a disease without any cure. Different opinions of different doctors.... wrong operations.... and combined effect was so that I had to lead a life of handicapped. Leave the gossips apart. Even I was losing my faith on doctors. Their optimistic words were unable to solace me. The number of phone calls for asking about my health condition was reduced day by day. Afterwards, I improved from crutch to stick and started driving. Then I faced problem in socialising myself like I used to be earlier. I tried to maintain one-sided relationship with people who were not living away from my place. But other people became beyond approach because of my isolation from them in past years. People who used to laugh at me during my bad days found my good behaviour to them sympathy for their rudeness so they denied to continue relationship with me. People’s negligence saved my time a lot. First I thought that my colleagues would not recognise me but when I reached the office I was welcomed like a hero. But they didn’t let me know their grief of seeing me holding a stick. They were always appreciating my courage. When I left the support of stick and went to office in jeans and shirt then someone told me that I was regaining my previous look. I started thinking about that. I made video recording of my walking styles with help of my wife. I was shocked to know that my walking posture was like I was running. Then family members told me that that was too less than my earlier habit. Then I realised that how bad it could be for my well- wishers. Then I realised the reason behind their motivation. The fear of being left alone in crowd of colleagues after passing a long period of loneliness, my expectations rather faith in self being, all led to develop my strong and special personality.”

After many operations and during every operation the feeling while coming out of the effects of anaesthesia he felt that the comet with thick hairs is throwing him into this world. Aaruni defeated the death. But when he returned office after one and half a year then no one believed. He had same familiar smile on his face. People said that the accident was not by chance but it was planned. Because it happened just after the accident of Naval.

Gajendra Thakur (b. 1971) is the editor of Maithili ejournal “Videha” that can be viewed at . His poem, story, novel, research articles, epic – all in Maithili language are lying scattered and is in print in single volume by the title “KurukShetram Antarmanak.” He can be reached at his email:

Translator: Jyoti Jha Chaudhary, Date of Birth: December 30 1978,Place of Birth- Belhvar (Madhubani District), Education: Swami Vivekananda Middle School, Tisco Sakchi Girls High School, Mrs KMPM Inter College, IGNOU, ICWAI (COST ACCOUNTANCY); Residence- LONDON, UK; Father- Sh. Shubhankar Jha, Jamshedpur; Mother- Smt. Sudha Jha- Shivipatti. Jyoti received editor's choice award from and her poems were featured in front page of for some period.She learnt Mithila Painting under Ms. Shveta Jha, Basera Institute, Jamshedpur and Fine Arts from Toolika, Sakchi, Jamshedpur (India). Her Mithila Paintings have been displayed by Ealing Art Group at Ealing Broadway, London.


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