Dec 10, 2023
Dec 10, 2023
by Ravi Pipal
The world history is full of people migrating from one place to another for various reasons, be it on religious grounds such as persecution of group of people following a particular faith. Parsi, Bahai, Jews from Moses to Mohd. Saheb Romas to Dalai Lama, people en masse have been migrating from one corner of the earth to another. Nearer home, in the year 1970 Raj Kapoor the greatest ever showman of celluloid in his magnum opus ‘Mera Naam Joker’ (255 minutes running time with two intervals) delivered a dialogue (made a statement) of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, outlining the universal truth “There is something more frightening and fierce than the most fierce lion and that is hunger”. So dear readers, right from the days when man was ‘food gatherer’ he has been driven by hunger to navigate uncharted path to fathom unfathomable and undertake unthinkable.
Bihar has been sending manpower to fields in remote countryside to power-corridors of India. A galaxy of Statesmen from Bihar has adorned the motherland right from India’s freedom struggle days. Our story opens in 1960s of Delhi, Faya Ram, a low-paid employee of P&T (Post & Telegraph) Department, Eastern Court, Janpath would annually return to his native place armed with fascinating tales of big city called Delhi – the land of opportunities. A poor lad Ramu would intently listen to those fairy tales, completely awe stuck with gaped mouth and dreamy eyes. Driven by abject poverty, hunger pangs, and el-dorado that the Delhi was made out to be by Faya Ram, Ramu a boy all of 19 years set for Delhi with his sole worldly possession – eighth class pass certificate. Narrating spiced up stories to naive villagers is one thing and having to bear and provide for someone gate-crashing in Delhi is quite another.
Faya Ram without wasting anytime took him to Shri D.A. Katti an M.P. from Chikodi, Belgaum at whose residence Faya Ram used to frequent in those idle evenings of Delhi. Ramu was promptly taken under the wings by Katti Saab. Ramu would cook and serve food to M.P. Saab. There was only one hitch... Ramu was not paid a penny, instead he was allowed to partake the food he cooked for M.P., and so he cooked for both. Greater hitch was M.P.’s sojourn in Delhi used to be disappointingly brief even when the Lok Sabha was in session. During the absence of M.P., Ramu was left to fend for himself. A famished boy, he had no option but to go door to door unnecessarily asking everyone’s well being, ever willing to lend helping hand. He would play like a child with neighborhood children in the fond hope that he may get a loaf of bread or at least a cup of tea. Often, he was given food out of sheer mercy as a charity. But not for too long. The lady luck smiled at him. Oh! How cruel and scheming a smile can be?
A lady passenger reasonably good looking, well past in her forties smiled at him in the DTU bus. Before it became today’s DTC, the bus fleet was known as DTU – (Delhi Transport Undertaking). Then what followed was a courteous conversation. Next day, it was little more social talk. Third day they went for a cup of tea. Exchanging pleasantries... the lady Mrs. Chadha wanted to know everything about Ramu. Finding that an unknown lady taking so much interest in him Ramu felt warm and nice, as nice and important as never before. Ramu opened his heart out to her. She was visibly moved hearing that Ramu does not know where the next meal will come from. She insisted Ramu to come to her parlor in posh Pusa Road. It was a sprawling bungalow. Mrs. Chadha hand-in-hand with Ramu walked in the bungalow. At ground floor, Ram saw two teenage boys staring at him. She gave them kind of ‘I hate you’ looks. Laughing, joking, cuddling, she went to first floor of the bungalow. She had the entire floor for herself and of course, for our Ramu...no not Ramu but Ramu Seth. Mrs. Chadha was into intimate relationship with one rich industrialist - Mr Chadha who was a widower. She looked after Mr. Chadha rather too well – leading to his untimely sudden death. All the kith and kin of Chadhas rose in unison against this ‘freshly widowed Mrs. Chadha’. Back in Soulful sixties it was difficult to keep honour intact and yet find time and space to do kind of wayward adventures Mr. Chadha indulged in. Therefore, every thing was kept hush-hush and more so after the demise of Mr. Chadha, nobody wanted to speak ill of him and yet knew not how to handle this ‘new Mrs. Chadha’. Mrs. Chadha on her part had played her cards rather too well. She staked her claim on entire property and wealth of Mr. Chadha being her widow - and children being minor. Ramu was her servant by the day and prized trophy by night. If it can be called a job then Ramu had chucked his job with our hon’ble M.P. His new swanky address had everyone who knew him in absolute amazement. Lucky You! Ramu had a wardrobe he had never dreamt of. People would call him Ramu Seth and he would not refute and thought he actually was one. Mrs. Chadha, the lady luck smiled at him, why smile, she was guffawing... Laughing her guts out and Ramu Seth was shyly grinning. Ramu had never had it so good. Everything was God sent or so believed Ramu. It was a classic tale of rags to riches. Ramu with his new found status was hugely embarrassed to do any household chores anymore. Life was a big picnic. A dream without morning. How could Ramu Seth do odd jobs any more? A non-descript maid was promptly engaged to do the menial chores. Little did Ramu know that the maid appearing at their doorstep was no co incidence? She was carefully planted by the Chadha clan to score even with Mrs. Chadha For that it was necessary to separate her from Ramu Seth. With rudimentary planning and enough grease, local police gladly obliged. Early hours of one cold morning Ramu was arrested for raping the minor maid and dealing in contraband with Pakistani seal smuggled via Punjab.
With all the witnesses at the right place, in a summary trial, Ramu was imprisoned for seven years. Ramu a semi-literate village rustic neither knew what his fault was nor had any ink link what had hit him.
Last letter from Ramu was a heart rending account of torture in prison, begging us for mercy he was desperate to come out of prison.
The elders say the roots of all evils are 3Zs - Zar – wealth, Zoru – woman and Zameen- Estate. Unfortunately poor Ramu’s rise and fall had all the three.
We never heard of Ramu... Ramu Seth again.
More by : Ravi Pipal