Caste6 mins 241 6 mins 241
(This story belongs to a series of stories where a funny character Dr Hati suddenly starts narrating to Dr Senapati. To laugh is Hati's trademark)
Dr Hati was posted in a rural Public Health Center in Jajpur, where his boss the in charge medical officer was from a sweeper caste in the Indian traditional caste system. There was one class four employee Hari Panda, worked as an attendant, a very obedient man expert in his job, a typical representation of the lost old model sincerity. He was a real Brahmin; vegetarian, honest, humble, knowledgeable in scriptures. He observed all chaste rituals expected from a Brahmin. Beyond his profession where he worked in a lower rank, he was a respectable man in the hospital colony and all took his help as a priest in their worships and rituals.
Jasmine the beautiful daughter of Mr Panda, one day came back from school crying as she was not given any money by the School Head Master even if she stood first in the class, instead Rohan the head doctor’s son who secured lesser grades than her was given a scholarship. None had words to console her, needless to say, the whole colony lived like a single-family and Mr Rafique the pharmacist tried hard to calm down Jasmine, trying to convince that it was not any award or reward for Rohan but a stipend as per govt provision for scheduled caste to which he belonged. She did not understand anything, she was a child and all these caste explanations had no influence on her innocence. Her sensitive childish self was hurt to a greater extent than the elders’ ability to console her with explanations.
Rohan had no clue and nobody felt comfortable to tell him the fact, which he ultimately understood. He wanted to convince his friend to share the money with her. After all his priority was a friendship with Jasmine. He needed a friend in the small colony to play with, which for him was more important than anything else.
At this tender age also he understood, guardians of so-called upper-class families did not allow their children to make him a close friend. In his birthday he did not get too many friends to share his cake. Jasmine was his best friend and rather the only friend. This was another reason why she felt so hurt with the discrimination by the school authority. Rohan the innocent boy always tried to please other children to beg their friendship. He cursed his lower caste status, which prevented others to be spontaneous to make him a friend. Children always are better humans, the caste of Rohan and religion of Rafique juniors could not stop them play and grow together.
On that day too, Jasmine after sometimes was seen playing with Rohan.
In the next winter, the colony had an excursion outing, organized by Dr Hati; places chosen were Nandan Kanan the zoo, Sun temple at Konark the ruins of marvelous art on sand stones and Puri the abode of the Lord of the universe. Such a selection catered the preferences of various age groups of the colony.
At the Lion gate of Grand temple of Lord Jagannath, under the Arunastamba (pillar of Sun) there came a dilemma as regards to the entry of the scheduled caste Medical Officer, the clean shaven Muslim Mr Rafique and their children inside the main temple. Jasmine demanded, she would not enter without her friends; Rohan and children of Rafique uncle. Children did not understand the matter.
Finally Dr Hati`s idea prevailed that children are caste less and faith neutral: let them enjoy.
While climbing the twenty-two steps children looked back on those elders who did not enter beyond the Patitapaban (savour of the downtrodden) idol at the Lion gate.
Their return journey was mostly in silence. Tired children slept in their seats. Others were too thoughtful, which prevented them to gossip. The only man who laughed a few times was Dr Hati. As if he should break all the traditions with his laughter.
In due course none could stop a growing friendship between Rohan and Jasmine that changed its hue with their growing up. The best thing Dr Hati told about his medical profession on those days was, no promotion, and usually, no transfer unless there was any public complaint. This aided their friendship to grow together hand in hand. Both of them became inter-dependent to a proportion of any imagination. They help each other in their studies. The friendship between adults of the opposite sex on those days had only a single meaning that they were in love. None of them were conscious about their own affair as it had grown naturally and effortlessly, there was no space to accommodate any other thought or person to make a small separation between them. Without knowing they were in love, they loved each other as they loved to eat or drink or cover them in winter or enjoying the fragrance of flowers, so natural. Yes they were in deep love without the need of one proposing the other.
Respective parents were not comfortable, Mr Panda was under pressure from his Brahmin Sashan (governance), he also did not forget his position, the Medical Officer was in a similar state, never liked to be blamed that his son trapped a highly talented upper-class beautiful girl.
Dr Hati laughed once again to reveal that the young duo always wanted him to help whenever situation needed. Once he even joked, “Mr Rafique take them to Islam matter would be over, caste would be irrelevant ha ha ha ha”.
Matter got complicated as it went to public discussion and traditional caste clash started.
The journey was no more smooth, not a wind but a tornado fell upon them. And the young lovers were at serious risk, so also the two families. Luckily, the situation forced them to grow their carrier ambitions and both could make it to Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi the competitive hub. Rohan was not so ordinary to give up, he well utilized the government scheme and matched his girlfriend Jasmine.
He became an IPS and She an IAS. They got married at Arya Samaj mandap in the state capital of Jharkhand where they were stationed in their first appointments. Did not hesitate to receive the cash award which state used to give such inter-caste couples and Jasmine the collector cum district magistrate received it as revenge to her childhood frustration.
Once they visited Lord Jagannath's sanctum sanctorum as ordinary citizens without making a possible issue out of it.
Mr Panda and the Medical Officer are happy.
Senapati! Dr Hati asked me, the listener of his story, "What happened to Lord Jagannath when the dalit couple went near Him? And for Rohan it was the second entry. Can you tell?"
Hati added, many clean shaven Muslims, plenty of dalits, and people of all faith must have reached Him, nothing happened, nothing, all are people’s creations; Lord loves all, ha ha ha ha.
The listener simply told, “Yeah”. But he asked why the high placed couple did a back door entry like this hiding the identity?
Dr Hati once again laughed not ha ha ha ha but many more times and told He the Lord pulled the string they were mere puppets. No reply from the listener was possible.