Family Heirloom15 mins 281 15 mins 281
The day that keeps taking
Adithya was happy seeing a glimpse of his house from a few streets away. The day had been a punishing one; all he was expecting was a hot shower and a filter coffee from the hands of his mother. But the day had something else waiting for him. As he reached his house, he found a big commotion. A group of people from the locality were at the gate of the house. As he got closer to his home, many thoughts started to form in Adithya's head. He does not want any of it to come true. He stopped his bike, that was when he noticed the police jeep parked at the gate. When he turned in to enter the house, he saw something that was not part of any of his scariest thoughts. Adithya's father, Narendra, was being taken to jail by the police.
Adithya got placed in an MNC IT company and was excited to join the company. His father was happy for Adithya. However, he said something which disturbed Adithya.
"In the last four generations, none in our family worked under anyone".
Adithya heard it wrong, or the tone of his father was not clear, he thought his father does not want him to do this job. He had been looking for this day from time immemorial, his father's words disappointed Adithya. Adithya left the place out of anger. His father went back to his daily routine as he did not notice the anger in his son's face.
Adithya had the formalities of the first day in the new office. He had big hopes, but it was just another day for the company. However, all was not a big failure as he got to meet his team. His boss, especially, seemed an exciting and strong woman. Very soon, he learns she was stubborn to the level he never could imagine. A few weeks go by, he turned himself into the tiniest cog in the wheel called the IT industry. That morning for some reason, he remembered his father's words, "We never worked under anyone". He was reminded of it as he could not believe his father had only that to say. So to share his feelings, Adithya did the best. No, he did not share his disappointment with his father. Instead, he asked a million strangers on some social media what his father was trying to tell Adithya.
"I have a strange issue in my life. My father's name is Narendra, and he does not want me to work. He is, he is. I don't know what he is. As far as I know, he never had any job. Believe me when I say we are not rich, or we don't have any businesses. There have been days when we haven't had a single meal in the day. It is not that my parents are uneducated and have no options, My father has an MSC in mathematics and has a doctorate and my mother has a Masters in political sciences. Still, they decided to stay home and not work. Coming to me, I did all my education in government schools with scholarships. I have seen all my friends wearing the best of dresses, had great birthday parties. For me, my birthdays involved going to a temple and donating to the poor. I don't know how my father managed, but on my birthday we donated food to the poor. It was not that I did not like donating to someone, why cannot he once in a while buy me a new dress.
All this made me think hard. I don't want to have a life where I struggle to have a decent living. A nice attire to wear during a festival, a good meal a day. So, I wanted to do well in school and college and earn a job. To my good fortune, I did well. I came first all through school and college. Then got a job in campus recruitment in the first try. Now, what did I ask my father? Nothing. I want him to be happy for me. But instead, what he had to say was, we never worked under anyone. Does he want me to let go of my dream? I don't know what to think of him. "
The social media of the day was ready to latch on to weird and unsolvable problems of the day, like climate change. "Climate change is real. Anyone who says otherwise should get the death sentence." Easy to shout the facts, but when you ask what one should do, there will be no answers. So, they found a new problem not to solve in Adithya's story. It became viral soon. Angel Diva commented, "Kill your father", in lines of Upendra's movie "A". Rocket Ravi commented, "Your father is an inspiration to the future generation. What is the need for working hard, the government will take all your money in taxes?" Ravi seems to be watching too much of debates from the grand old university from Delhi. Only Sandhya seemed to have a useful comment, "Why don't you ask your father what he meant?" But no one cares for those including Adithya. But Adithya soon learns his viral post was the reason his whole world went into a dizzy.
Adithya was confused by the day's events. He could not believe the police took his father. He tried to think about what could have happened, but he came out blank. His father had no job, as far as he knew he very rarely left his house. He ran to his mother to ask what happened. His mother was not crying or anything. She was busy making some calls. She finished a call, and Adithya tried to talk to her, she signalled him to stop and called another number. Adithya did not know who was on the other side of the call. He could only hear what his mother was speaking.
"Yes, they came to arrest him."
"I am not sure what was the case."
"They had a warrant, but they did not give me time to read."
"Don't try to convince me nothing is going to happen. You are there to manage this before it happened."
"I am not angry, don't have to tell me any sorries. Find out what was the real issue and find a way to get the bail."
"What do you mean bail is not required?"
"Is he going personally to bring him out? My husband will be angry if he goes to get him released."
"I am not in a hurry or worried. My husband does not mind being in jail for a few days. Sending him to get my husband out is big. You make sure you guys don't make my husband angry," said Adithya's mother, Ramani.
Adithya was stumped hearing the conversation. Now his mind started playing games. Was my father a don in hiding, or was he a Benami of some big shot? All other big shots, Adithya heard of, will have a clout to show off. His mind was going into a tizzy. He needs answers and answers now. He wanted to ask his mother, but she was in a call with someone else then. The conversations she had this time did not make any sense to him.
"No, I am telling you not to come", said Ramani.
Adithya was trying to hear what the other side wanted to say. But he could not hear anything even after going closer.
"Your time is not just your time, you cannot just waste that on this trivial thing."
"The things we faced all this life were more complex than this. You don't worry now. He will come out in a day or two. He can talk to you after that."
That was when Adithya remembered, his father was always calling someone or other. Come the morning there will be people waiting for him. Adithya always thought these people were friends of his father and jobless like him. Right then, all started to have a new meaning. But he still doesn't know what was going on. That was when he noticed his mother finishing one more of her calls. Before she could dial another number, he stopped her and asked what was going on. She took a deep breath and said, "Your stupidity is what is going on."
Adithya did not understand even in the slightest. He asked his mother again what was going on.
In reply, his mother asked, "Did you write some post on social media about your father?"
"That was the reason your father got arrested."
Adithya could not believe what his mother was telling him. He thought his mother was joking. No one gets arrested for asking his son not to work. He did not force me or anything. What was his mother trying to say? thought Adithya. He waited for her to answer, but she was indifferent to Adithya and was keeping silent. He could not take it and asked her smiling, "What stupidity was that, how can my post on social media get him arrested?"
Ramani started to speak with a little bit of contempt for Adithya in her voice.
"Before I tell you how, let me tell you about my family."
Adithya was not happy that his mother was treating him like a third person. Ramani noticed that in his face but she was angry with Aditya.
"My husband's great grandfather had rich family wealth, but he still worked full time as a farmer. The fight for independence had started, and all youth were getting inspired by speeches of Netaji Bose, Komaram Bheem, Alluri Seetaramaraju etc. One of those times, he got a chance to meet Ambedkar. During the conversation, Ambedkar learnt about his social status and how he still was working.
Ambedkar than asked him, "Why doesn't he join the freedom movement, or at the least why don't he go around to support the poor and give them help? The poor do not know many things, educate them. The poor do not send their kids to schools due to shortage of money. You can help them, feed them, and support them."
He immediately sent his son into the freedom fight. He stayed back and started to help the poor get an education. After we got independence, his son, my husband's grandfather too continued the same work, providing education to the poor. As the saying goes, charity costs a pretty penny. Soon the money started to dry out. He sold out all properties and made a trust. With little left, he bought a few farmlands and houses for his next generation. The family now has become the provider for the village.
The next generation, my husband's father, continued in the same family way. Worked part-time in the farm and whatever money required for the trust provided it. The trust had enough money from the interests, and the property rents it had. But as they say, the stone is thrown at the tree that is giving. One unfortunate night the village was affected by the worst flood. Many people lost their families and their houses. As the head of the village, he went all around the village, to check the damage. As was his nature, he promised to build them houses and work for their rehabilitation. What does that mean, sell out the rest of the properties? After all that he had a little left with which he brought few properties in a remote place for his son, Narendra.
The apple does not fall far from the tree. Narendra too did not let go of his family traditions. Even when he had very little, he made sure the trust runs without any problems. Along with all that his forefathers faced, he had to face a new issue. The mighty trying to put their efforts to take away from the poor. The land in the cities was drying out, and the poor people in cities started to turn smart. So, the exploitation had reached small villages. My husband had to find a way to fight them. He did not fight anyone physically, but he started a legal fight. That meant he had to start spending on lawyers along with all else for the trust. He did what his family taught him. Sell off the property he had. He had to start another foundation, a legal trust, which fights the legal wrongdoings in the village. All the money he got from selling the properties he moved into the trust. One thing, he did not do like his forefathers, was leaving something for you, his son. So, he kept you away from all this. As there were no farms left, he had no work to do. He did the next best thing he thought of, spent all his time in the legal trust. If a farmer was to lose his land for road widening, he was there. If a village had to get the money for school but did not, he was there. A library approval, high loan interests for farmers, cheating money lenders, he put cases on all of them. In the last 20 years, 1356 legal cases were registered and managed by the trust.
When at the age of 7, on your birthday you donated your new dress to the kid who had no shirt, your father was very happy. At the age 9, when you gave away all your books to the kid who had none, he knew you were to pick up the family mantle one day. When you said after that you wanted a rich life and a new dress, we thought it was an aberration. We never thought you were to do this.”
Adithya understood why his father was not doing any job. He had a newfound respect for his father after hearing the story. But, he still did not know what it got to do with the arrest of his father, or what it had to do with his social media post. He was waiting for his mother to tell him. Ramani continued.
"All the legal fights were with politicians and highly influential people. So, to keep the people behind this safe your father found a way to keep himself anonymous. None of the official papers remotely are linked to the foundation. That was why we came out of the village to the city. The villagers, the government officers, village sarpanch all come here and take your father's advice. The politicians in the town have no clue about your father's involvement. The foundations managed by a village trust, without any ownership. Once you wrote the post and it has gone viral, the media started digging. The media found out about the origins of your father. From there, it did not take them long to connect the dots. "
Adithya understood now and started to feel very guilty. He was irritated and disappointed with himself for thinking less of his father. But in all this, his father did not do anything wrong. How can they arrest him, on what charge? He turned to his mom and asked, "If they learnt about him, they should come and give him an award. Why did they arrest him?"
"Your father was fighting a case against a minister. The minister was trying to give away the water from the village lake to bring an industry. The minister till now thought the lawsuit was from the village people collective, once he found it was your father, he started his intimidation techniques. He sent some corrupt officer to the education trust where your father is the chair. The officer found some illegal transactions in the books. In actuality, there were no such books in the premise," said Ramani.
Adithya turned to his mother and said, "Sorry" with a teary eye.
No mother wants her son to say sorry. Ramani felt bad for making her son guilty. In the connected world of today, her husband always knew something like this was going to happen eventually. He was ready for this, and she prepared for this day. How can she find her son guilty when he was not aware of anything? She held his hand and said in a consoling tone, "There is nothing to be sorry about. You did not plan for this to happen."
Adithya still felt guilty. But he had all the time to feel guilty later. The immediate action was to get his father out from jail. To make a plan of action, he wanted to ask his mother where his father was taken and how to approach him. He turned to his mother when there was a loud siren noise outside his house. There were three police jeeps and a Toyota Innova car with a blue light that stopped in front of the house. A man in a white dress and a suit stepped out of the Innova and walked into their home. Adithya noticed the police were holding the door open for the man, but he had no clue who that person was. He walked straight to Ramani and said "Sorry". Adithya did not understand a thing.
"I am sorry madam. I was not in town, otherwise, this would have not happened," said the man.
"You don't need to be sorry. I know you have nothing to do in this," said Ramani.
Adithya was confused seeing the familiarity in his mother's tone.
"I just called the officer here now. I am going there to bring him," said the man.
"You are a collector, that does not sit well for your reputation. I spoke to the lawyer, the DCP is heading there now."
"My reputation can come later. I cannot let someone who gave me this life to be in jail. I was going there, noticed our house and stopped here."
Adithya was shocked to know a DCP, and a collector was running to go and help his father. He felt ashamed that he never knew anything about his father. His guilt was killing him. How can he, his son, do this to his father? Forget doing this to his father, how can he do this to anyone whose whole life, money, and energies were spent to help someone else. His guilt was eating him away. That was when the collector turned to Adithya and said, "Don't cry Adithya. Your father will be back very soon."
The man knows him, he knows his name and the man noticed the drop of tear in the eyes of Adithya. When he said not to cry, Adithya could not control his tears any longer and let the tears drop. He quickly turned away to hide them from the man.
Welcome back to the family
Adithya was coming back from the morning run when he noticed his phone ring. It was from his father, Adithya called him back. The call was to ask Adithya to bring some extra milk. There were already people waiting for Adithya at home, and the milk that was delivered was not enough to make them tea. Adithya bought a few packets of milk and headed home. On reaching, one lady took the milk from his hand to give to Ramani for making tea. Adithya sat next to his father and started to discuss with the people. His father waited for Adithya these days, Adithya's LLB helped in making the legal course they are going to make understandable to the parties.
P.S.: Narendra always felt bad when his son quit the job, as there was no more property left in the family. But Adithya keeps telling everyone his family has given him the best heirloom that anyone can ask for.