Ganga Bhattarai10 mins 239 10 mins 239
It was the month of February. As usual, I was busy with writing and giving a few tuitions. I didn't want a single minute to be wasted. A Delhi-based magazine was accepting my stories and articles and was paying me. I was full of hope to expand my writing career. At this juncture, one evening a lady called me and said in English, "Sir, I got your number from a friend of mine. I want you to teach English to my son. Can you spare some time?"
I said, "Madam, we are in the middle of February. This apart, you want me to teach one child. By the way, in which class does your child study?"
"He is in Class-9. "
"It might hurt you to make the payment every month-end. . Madam, " I said.
"How much do you charge?"
In order to dodge her request, I said, "Three thousand for two classes a week, that's three thousand a month for eight classes. . . "
She didn't exclaim like any other tight-fisted lady:" Three thousand a month. . . . . ! For eight classes only. . . ! "
On the contrary, she said, "Come and teach him tomorrow. . . I'll pay you ten thousand in advance. Give him as many classes as you can. His exams start next month. I will pay you even more in case you put in any extra efforts. "
I found myself on cloud nine. Ten thousand rupees! And that too in advance! Her instantaneous readiness to pay
left me speechless. I bothered a lot how to try my best to make the boy competent in English. It was not impossible. I pondered over the matter.
Getting up early in the morning, I taught my usual classes. She called around 9 o'clock and enquired about the timing. As I was wondering to give an answer, she made the task easy.
She said to me calmly, "Chetan is at home all day. He is not going to school on account of the bulk of sheer hard work he has got to do. You can come and teach him at any convenient time you like. "
I felt greatly relieved and extremely delighted. I called and told her I would reach her place at 10 a. m.
Ganga Bhattarai's house was located at Sahid Nagar. It looked like a royal palace. Its exotic architectural beauty resembled a lot from the West. I had, however, not been to that area since my stay in Bhubaneswar since 1989. After leaving university, I had embarked on a stupid plan to become a full-time writer in English. Having slogged hard in vain to get published and earn money, I was left with no other choice than giving tuitions in English. It was at the beginning of this period that I had come in contact with Ganga Bhattarai's wife.
When I reached the location, I was surprised to see four men armed with real guns guarding the house. I had gone there on my rickety bicycle and hence was feeling embarrassed. I called her and a guard led me into the house. I saw two Mercedes-Benz cars and a crimson Audi Q8. I entered a hall, a magnificent one. Mrs Bhattarai was comely and well-proportioned. She was a blonde with a very fair complexion. Later I knew she was Swiss. The boy was very tall, clad in trendy fashionable clothes and shoes. With his dishevelled hair, he looked like a pop-singer. He was fluent in Odia and didn't speak English. He greeted me and we entered his study. I was served high quality coffee and delicious snacks. When I had finished with my coffee and snacks, I asked him, "How much do you usually score in English?"
He was sitting with his face down. I repeated the question. "It's not good. . Sir. " I left the question there and told him to write a few lines on the importance of English in today's world. I asked for another copy to write for him some questions on
He displayed such dynamism and readiness to accept the task that I thought he would at least write something not so bad as he actually did. After I had written some twenty or twenty-five questions, he told me to read his writing. The essay left me both shocked and amused being full of incorrect spelling and strange expressions.
My next reaction was fright, sheer fright. "How can this boy pass the annual examination. . . ?" I showed the article to his mother and told her how precarious the boy's situation was. She spoke to me politely and promised me her assistance in making the boy study English more seriously and diligently. Before my departure she handed me ten thousand rupees in cash in an envelope.
Chetan however, it seemed, was determined not to do any task. A brother tutor had told me that you could take a horse to the source of water but the animal itself had to do the drinking. The boy was a perfect incarnation of laziness. However, he did maintain his regal airs and I didn't like the way he treated the servants. Once while I was dictating something to him and he was writing, his pen fell down onto the floor. He told me to pick it up! I had complied because I thought it was his naivety that had prompted the say-so. On another occasion I wanted to use his toilet. To my utter astonishment, he told me that it was there strictly for his personal use. Those days three thousand rupees was no doubt bountiful. I gave him twenty classes hardly ever keeping track of the passage of time. His mother gave me the extra bucks she had hinted at. Despite my best efforts and relentless toil, I was not sure whether he would pass the annual exam. Five tutors were employed to enable him to get through the exam.
I was very curious to see Mr. Bhattarai. Mrs. Bhattarai was a slim and graceful lady with a remarkably beautiful complexion. She always appeared in jeans mostly black or blue. She talked less and had a debonair smile.
I once asked Chetan about his father. I was told that Mr. Bhattarai was a busy person but he spent adequate time with his son and wife. I also knew that Chetan's sister was pursuing higher studies in an American university. This I found a bit incredible since the lady was so youthful that any such possibility appeared nil.
Most of the days when I entered Chetan's house, I would see a stocky and blackish man resembling a buffalo. He had shown me his teeth blackened from betel leaf chewing, once or twice in a hideous smile. I had also seen him once manually preparing a dose of tobacco with lime in it.
One day while I was coming downstairs, I saw the man sitting in an armchair and a servant was helping him put on his boots. "My goodness! This is Chetan's father?"I exclaimed to myself. He smiled at me. I greeted him and returned his smile. We discussed how his son might improve in English. He told me he intended to send the boy to the US for further studies after he passed Class-10.
Exactly a month passed and then I had plenty of time, no classes and no money as well. I was dependent on my mother who received a monthly pension and my younger brother who was employed. I had the same secondhand rickety bicycle which produced strange noises when I rode it. At that time I needed money only to buy betel leaf and drink tea in the local bazaar. At this critical time, one morning my touchpad mobile began to vibrate. As I received the call, I heard the caller saying, "I'm Ganga Bhattarai speaking. What kind of English did you teach Chetan? He has scored twenty-six out of hundred marks. In the half-yearly exam he had scored thirty-five! Your teaching is terrible! You tutors are a dishonest lot. . . ! Then he used some foul language I have never shared anyone with till today. "
I said, "Please listen to me, Sir. . The half-yearly English questions were easy. This time the questions were a little harder. . . . It's also true that. . . . . . "
"I don't want to hear any such bullshit. . " He didn't allow me to speak further. Later I knew the boy had scored miserably in all subjects and had been detained. He had subsequently been transferred to another school.
Those were the days of bitter frustration and endless suffering. A young tutor who taught mathematics and science would often drop in, and say, "Sir. . . Why are you wasting your time and talent. . . ? I bet you if you teach sincerely, you can earn more than forty thousand a month. " I took him for a tall-talker. I never believed him when he told me about the hefty sum of money he was earning from his tuitions.
I was mad after writing, and was all set to be a professional writer. My short stories and articles were appearing in Alive and Woman's Era. He repeatedly told me to give a secondary place to writing and devote my time and energy to private teaching.
After some twenty years or even more, I was well- established in my career of private teaching. I was married to the selfsame handsome young tutor's elder sister who had also had her Masters in English. She had joined a school and was earning. My daughter was in Class-6 then. I had even bought a beautiful car.
I didn't know what had happened to Chetan. Many of my students were now doctors, engineers, bureaucrats and highly placed officers in various multinational companies. I had never forgotten any of them.
One evening I was at Chandrasekharpur. Torrential showers had stranded me. A Muslim gentleman called and requested me to drop his son Karim Ali at Master Canteen.
The rain abated a little. My student and I entered the car and I drove him to Master Canteen. Karim left and my stomach was rumbling hard. I thought I must eat something otherwise I would have hypoglycemia. As I looked around, I saw a fast food stall. I didn't think it was clean and hygienic. A young boy and a bearded man were busy preparing egg and chicken rolls. Another man, presumably the stall owner was sitting at a low table and dozing. A young couple with a baby were stopping there.
When my chicken roll arrived, I gorged on it like a greedy pig. I thought I should order and eat another. I was reminded of my wife's warning and of my diabetes. It would also be embarrassing to eat two rolls one after another in the presence of the people there. So I chugged an entire bottle of mineral water. I felt soothed and asked the bearded man, "How much?" The man told me to pay forty rupees at the counter. The stall owner who was also bearded and totally bald was looking at me. I was stunned. "My goodness. . ! Ganga Bhattarai. . . ?" I resisted the urge to ask him whether he was Chetan's father Ganga Bhattarai. .
I reached home around 11 o'clock. While I was eating my dinner, I related my experience to my wife. Next I switched on the YouTube channel and got a detailed account of his downfall. Bhattarai and some influential politicians and bureaucrats had misappropriated some hundreds of crores of government money.
Very soon I came to know a lot more about him. Bhattarai was the villain of the piece. After the completion of his jail term, he had found himself on the streets. His wife was separated from him. She was staying in America with her daughter. Chetan had met with an accident in Delhi and had met a violent end.