My Brother The Shield I know
My Brother The Shield I know8 mins 227 8 mins 227
Gopal was working very diligently. He was putting extra effort in his work to clear all backlog. Because he would be taking a few day leave from work as his sister Gouri had invited him for 'Bhai Phonta'. His sister was married and her in-laws house was in a town about two hundred kilometers away that was an hour and a half journey by train. Gopal enjoyed the train journey as the train passed through the beautiful and verdant rural Bengal.
Bhai Phonta in Bengal is called Bhai dooj in the North Indian states and in the west is known as Bhai beej. Bhai teeka is in Nepal and among the Nepali community of North Bengal. This festival is for celebrating the valour of brothers by their sisters and for seeking the brother's protection from harm. It is celebrated in the month of Kartik on the second day of the new moon or dwitiya. This festival is where the sister puts a sandal wood paste smear or blob on the brother's forehead with the help of her left hand little finger After two days of Diwali and a fortnight after the Durga Puja festival is this social function held.
Gopal was very excited to visit his sister because this was an annual event. She could not come due to her family commitments. She had to look after her two small kids and her aged parents in law. So Gopal used to make the annual trip. Plus the attraction of being close to his nephew and niece also was a big draw for him. Not to mention the yummy dishes and sweet savouries his sister spread before him after anointing him with the 'tika' that could not be ignored. Gouri was a marvellous cook and after a decade of marriage she had championed the art of cooking, had become a gourmet's delight.
Another big draw for Gopal was the wonderful stories related to Bhai phonta which Gouri narrated during the smearing of the tika or tilak on Gopal's forehead. The stories even after hearing for so many years never seemed to get old and every time it had a new flavour. One of the stories is that Yamuna, the river and Yama, the God of death, are siblings and are the kids of the Sun God. Yamuna was married away at a far off place and once invited Yama to her house. They were meeting each other after a long time. There Yamuna gave Bhai phonta to Yama and fed him sumptuously. Yama was very moved and promised to meet his sister every year. This became an annual ritual. The practice of Bhai phonta began from there. Every sister while giving phonta likes to think her brother as Yama because he is one whom death cannot touch.
Another story is that Lord Sri Krishna when was victorious over the demon Narakasura his sister Subhadra gave him Bhai Phonta. Every sister wants to symbolise her brother as Lord Sri Krishna.
Just another story that does the rounds is that Lord Vishnu was once captured and imprisoned by King Bali. With the imprisonment of Lord Vishnu the activities of heaven came to a stop. All the Gods became worried and went to Goddess Lakshmi, Vishnu's consort to somehow free Vishnu. Lakshmi gave Bhai phonta to King Bali, who was so happy that he granted a boon to her. Lakshmi sought the freedom of Vishnu as the boon.
Gopal worked for a mercantile firm. All the cash transaction was supervised by him. He was also the custodian of the cash. The owners of the company and the manager was very happy with Gopal's work and his behaviour. They had immense faith on him. All the employees also liked him. Now becoming a senior, Gopal did not have to physically manage cash daily. He only handed over the cash to his subordinates at day begin and took charge of it at the end of the day. On the final day of work before Gopal would be going on leave, Gopal was naturally busy. He had handed over the charge of the cash to his junior but the official signature in the register had to be done at day end symbolising actual transfer of charge. He had initiated the charge handover sooner because he would leave for the day earlier than usual to be able to catch the intercity express and reach his sister's place by sundown.
When the time for his departure arrived, Gopal became busy and forgot to sign the register. The physical handing over and taking up of charge is noted and both the personnel have to sign the register , the one handing over charge and the one receiving it. So not signing means the physical charge was still with Gopal whereas he had already handed over the keys to the next incumbent. People with malafide intentions can encash this situation to his benefit in such a case.
Gopal was still unmindful till he caught the train. In the train he was lucky enough to get a window-side seat. He sat there and gazed outside and his eyes merged with the beautiful countryside. He thought himself to be a part of the surroundings.
When he reached his sister's place while browsing through his bag he reminisced that he had handed over the keys to his junior but forgot to sign the register. He became very worried. People with dubious intentions may encash the situation and blame would end up on Gopal. Gouri became instantly aware of the worry on his brother's face who had suddenly stopped chatting with his nephew and niece.
''A penny for your thought Gopal, what's bothering you. Don't keep it away from your sister. I'll definitely help you come out of this., '' said Gouri, Gopal's sister. Then Gopal shared his concerns with her. Gouri advised him to immediately call up the manager, his boss, and confide in him the problem.
The Manager had full confidence in Gopal although it had been a part of gross negligence on his side for forgetting to sign the register. Gopal told him that there should have been about Rupees fifty lacs closing figure of the cash in the vault. The manager then went to check the vault and found the vault door ajar and the full cash gone. He immediately told the security to lock the main door. No one had left the office but the cash was gone although the cash transaction timing was over. The manager thought it best not to let Gopal know because then he would worry unnecessarily and without any fruit ful result. The cash bag was also missing. The manager thought the incident has happened not too long ago so the culprit must not have gone too far. In the meantime the guard posted at the door came rushing in. He said that two men had just gone out with a bag exactly similar to the one we have and they went away on a scooter. The manager called the police station and informed the officer in charge about the incident, the description of the bag and the make of the scooter. The junior who had taken the keys of vault was summoned by the manager and grilled him about the missing cash. But the new custodian of the cash feigned innocence.
'' You cannot escape your liability by saying that Gopal had not signed the register meaning that custody of the cash is with him. Presently you have been accepting and paying cash, the cash register has your signed entries. So you are also equally liable,'' warned the manager to the junior cashier Bimal.
Gopal's worries were far from over. He was now totally in the dark of the incident of the missing cash. The manager had not informed him. But Gopal was cursing his negligence and worrying for the custody of the 'orphaned' cash. He was imagining wildly of all that could happen to the cash with no proper custodian although as per record it being under his custody with the keys with somebody else. He tried to think that nobody should play any mischief with him as he felt that he had everyone's trust. But with money no one can be trusted.
This was the worst Bhai phonta, Gopal was having, he thought. Gouri tried her best to get the humour back on her brother's face. She reminded him of the Bhai phonta celebrated a decade ago when Gouri was just married. Gopal had gone to his didi, elder sister Gouri's house on the first Bhai phonta after her marriage. His jamaibabu, brother in law was away at his office. Two men came under the guise of some work from their jamaibabu and started misbehaving with Gouri. Gopal was then very young just out of his teens. He had acted with alacrity with extreme presence of mind. By slowly diverting their attention and pulling out Gouri from the house and locking it from outside. Then the Police was called and the culprits handed over.
Gouri reminded Gopal of the incident and said that she had immense faith on the Bhai phonta she gives her brother every year and on the strength of that relationship Gopal would not be harmed and everything would come out fine.
The Bhai phonta function culminated soon in a subdued manner because Gopal was totally off colour far from his usually bubbly behaviour. As soon as Gouri smeared her brother's forehead with the sandalwood paste blob, Gopal's mobile phone rang. His manager was on the phone and was congratulating him on his good fortune but the same time warning him to act more carefully in future when working with cash. He informed that the impostors who had run away with the cash were caught in a very uncharacteristic manner. They had been caught accidentally for breaking a traffic signal. Normally they would have been let off with a simple fine but their fidgety behaviour caught the eye of the traffic constable and he dragged them to the nearest police station. There they were forced to spill out the beans. It was later learnt that they were the accomplices of Bimal the person presents with the custody of the cash. Bimal has been put under suspension. Gopal was immensely relieved. His sister, Gouri was thanking God and saying it was the power of a sister's prayers that has saved her brother. The power of Bhai phonta. Gopal was let off with a light warning.