Sep 27, 2023
Sep 27, 2023
This is a translation of the story ‘Athroo’ which one of the thirteen stories in the book ‘Kaame’ written by Author Balraj Sahni
The boy was saying:
“One of my uncles (Chachaji) was killed in Abbottabad riots. His whole family, too, lives with us in Dehradun. My father drives a taxi now. I can’t even tell you, Bhapa ji, the extent of unemployment in Dehradun. I worked for six months in a motorcycle repair shop. But the shopkeeper did not give me even a single penny. I failed in the seventh class exam. Then I left home. I was a burden on my father…
After coming here, I started selling peppermint. But every fourth or fifth day the policemen caught me….they are very bad people, Bhapa ji. They do not leave us alone even after taking bribe. Four or five times I was fined for five rupees. Once I did not have the money to pay the fine. The magistrate sent me to jail. I spent seven days in Worli Prison.
I have also enlisted myself in the employment exchange. My fountain pens business was good….but my pocket was picked. Near Matunga, some people were fighting on the road. I stopped by to watch. Then…..(again he felt like crying).
Sir, please take three rupees back. One rupee is enough for me. I will return by bus; won’t go back walking. The Pandit gives me food. I swear to God, I did not come to you to ask for money. Please help me find some work somewhere….”
Oh! I had started liking the boy so much. I felt like hugging him tight. I didn’t want to let him go back. How long will I pretend to be a stone-hearted person? How long will I be able to protect the castle of self-control that I had built around myself….?”
“Look, son,” I said, “I shall give you fifty rupees. You start your fountain pens business again….”
“No, Bhapa ji!” he replied with some carelessness as if fifty rupees meant nothing for him. “I am fed up with the police. Moreover, the rainy season has started. In this season, it is very difficult to roam about and sell things. Please try to fetch a small job for me. My elder brother was unemployed for four months after passing his Matric Exam (Tenth Class). But now he has a found a job in the new mill of Lala Ishwar Das. He is very happy now….”
I was lost in thoughts. I started recalling the names of all my friends who could offer him some job in their shop or factory or studio…
“Okay! You come to my home tomorrow morning. I will take you to some places with me in my car….You don’t worry. I will help you….Something good will certainly turn out in your favour.”
The boy’s eyes sparkled with such a glint as if he wasn’t looking at my face, rather staring at the sky where the shining, smiling sun was peeping from behind the dispersing clouds.
“Okay, Bhapa ji! I will come tomorrow morning.” As he said this, he held the one rupee note in his left hand and placed the remaining three rupees on my feet, and left hurriedly.
I went near the gate and kept on looking at him as he disappeared….at that self-respecting, destiny-struck, lovely village boy…..at my best friend Yogi Nath’s poverty-stricken nephew….. Yogi Nath, who had selflessly served the Congress throughout his life; who was sent to the prison in the British regime for participating in the freedom struggle…….today his dear nephew has to serve prison sentence in the Congress regime for not being able to bribe the policemen…. To whom shall I plead….
Finally my heart melted. And the tears fell incessantly from my eyes – exactly the same way as I had seen the tears falling from that boy’s eyes when I first saw him.
More by : Dr. Giti Tyagi