Sai and the Newlyweds
Sai and the Newlyweds6 mins 516 6 mins 516
Ghantakota was a village about two kilometers away from ours, I mean Bhanjapur Sasan. Ishira(Ishwar) Pradhan was my elder brother's classmate but his senior by three years. He had a stiff long face, big eyes red from smoking bidis in excess. Ishwar was a tall talkar. Had he been highly educated, he would have surpassed O'Henry and become a Pulitzer awardee. He had passed his matriculation in the third attempt. People in my area knew him for a con artist. So he preferred targeting the naive and the susceptible in faraway villages and towns.
He would disappear from our view for two or three months at a time, and then turned up suddenly and concocted a convincing tale to capture someone's attention. Another interesting character in Bhanjapur Sasan was Hunda. The boy Hunda was around eighteen, and he was a hot-headed boy. He was short-tempered, out of the ordinary, recalcitrant and at the same time gullible to an incredible point. He took particular interest in the wild stories Ishira fabricated.
This time Ishwar returned but with an exceedingly good-looking girl. The day the couple set foot on the village soil, it was the proudest moment in Hari Pradhan's life. At last his son had done something worth the attention of his village and the ones surrounding it as well. Although the newlyweds claimed having gone through a marriage in court, Hari decided to flaunt his pride and his son's extraordinary achievement. However, the euphoria died down in a few months. Ishira's life took a new turn after his marriage to the beautiful girl Preeti. He stopped indulging in his dishonest clever tricks to diddle people out of their money and valuables. He was scared his wife might dump him and go back to her father in Surat. He took every care to keep his wife unaware about his notorious past
Hari Pradhan grudged his son's sitting at home and idling away his days and nights happily when he himself had to toil hard in the fields which his son disliked. He often swore at Preeti backed by his wife Sukanti, the crotchety old hag who blamed everything evil in the family on her 'characterless' daughter-in-law.
After their marriage old Hari had gifted Ishira an expensive cellphone. Ishira stayed stuck to his mobile phone all the time to the chagrin of all around him. He ignored his wife's advice from time to time to share his father's hard labour in the fields. Ishira being a votary of cleanliness didn't want to come in contact with mud and dirt in the fields. He took every care to groom himself admirably. His clothes, though a few pairs only, would always be properly cleaned and pressed.
Once a violent quarrel broke out between Preeti and her husband the cause being the latter's indolence and addiction to the mobile phone. Ishira threatened he would consume poison and finish himself off. That night both of them didn't have their meals. In the middle of the night Preeti found her husband missing. Many a fearful propositions assailed her. She roused the house. Hari and his wife started wailing. The villagers searched every nook and corner of the locality. Ishira was nowhere to be found. His mother yelled at Preeti, "Now you are happy?After swallowing my son up. . . ?"
Now Preeti had to weep abundantly every day. When things went out of her hands, her last resort would be Sai Baba of Shirdi. Now she fervently prayed to Baba for her husband's comeback.
After two weeks Ishira surfaced in the village. His first meeting was with Hunda. This time too he had spun a convincing story for his gullible listener. Hunda said:"Bhai you have not been visible for some time. . ? Where did you go. . ?"
Ishira said in serious tones:"Areee. . .
Hunda I got an emergency call from Mumbai. . and had to leave home that very moment. . !In the middle of the night. . !It was a call from a well-known garage owner. . . You might suspect the urgency of the call. . But think a little. . And when the matter involves a superstar like Amitabh Bachhan!"
"What did you have to do with Amitabh Bachhan. . ?"enquired Hunda with bewilderment in his eyes.
"You know I worked in a garage for two years at Cuttack. And three more years in Mumbai. . ?"
"Yes, "said Hunda. .
"Actually, Bachhan's best Mercedes Benz had a technical snag. . Nobody in the garage where two hundred engineers and mechanics work was able to notice it. The garage owner phoned me at night. . Why you know. . ? Bachhan himself told them to make a call to me. . !"
"You fixed it. . . ?"
"Yes I fixed it. . . . ! And you can hardly imagine how happy the superstar was! He invited me to dinner.
. . ! Bachhan, Abhisek, Ayiswarya, Jaya Bachhan and I had our dinner together at the same dinning table. . . !"
When Ishira reached home, he found his parents in tears. His unshaven cheeks looked hard and shrivelled. It seemed he had become alive and had come home from the village cremation ground. His clothes smelled badly.
Preeti shed tears of gratitude and joy and thanked Baba endlessly. However, she was disillusioned very soon. Again the old routine of her husband came into practice. Ishira would keep browsing the Internet as ever before. Nobody knew what he used to do for hours on end with that dratted mobile phone of his being totally oblivious to complaints, humiliations, and angry reproaches. He just took his meals and wasting no time got busy with his beloved device.
One night when Ishira was at his mobile, Preeti looked at the photo of Sai Baba and wept copiously;her grouse was her husband's stupid obsession with the mobile. Still she chanted the name of Baba till she fell asleep.
In the middle of the night, Ishira pushed his wife awake and was full of excitement. "What the hell is going on in the middle of the night. . ?" Ishira said to his wife:"Read this message. . ! A French lady named Emile Caron has transferred seventy lakhs to my SBI account. . !" She turned her face mokingly from his and tried to go to sleep with the advice:"Be careful with your bank account. . ! Otherwise you will lose whatever little money you still have left in your account. You gave her your bank details. . ?"
Ishira was struck with sorrow and regret. He was still paying his installments for a motorcycle he bought five years ago. He was bound to pay rupees two thousand every month. . ! He lay awake all night brooding over the disastrous consequences of his friendship with an old French lady. He cursed himself for his foolishness. He had given all the necessary details required for financial transactions. As usual, the next day he began his routine. In the evening, he checked his account. Emile Caron had sent the message:"Son. . Please confirm the receipt of the money. I called you thrice but you refused to receive my calls. I don't think I am going to live any longer. . "
Ishira went to the bank and was puzzled to know that the money had actually come to his account. Ishira who mocked at his wife's devotion to Sai looked at a big photo of Baba on the wall. He saw a yellow rose fall from above Baba's photo from where smoke from an incense stick was rising in very fine white curls. Ishira couldn't restrain his tears. . and said, "Baba, forgive me. . "