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English Literature – Short Stories ☆ ‘Hindi…’ ☆ Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM

Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM

(Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi—an ex Naval Officer, possesses a multifaceted personality. Presently, he is serving as Senior Advisor in prestigious Supercomputer organisation C-DAC, Pune. An alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad is involved in various Artificial Intelligence and High-Performance Computing projects of national and international repute. He has got a long experience in the field of ‘Natural Language Processing’, especially, in the domain of Machine Translation. He has taken the mantle of translating the timeless beauties of Indian literature upon himself so that it reaches across the globe. He has also undertaken translation work for Shri Narendra Modi, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, which was highly appreciated by him. He is also a member of ‘Bombay Film Writer Association’.)

We present an English Version of Shri Sanjay Bhardwaj’s Hindi Short Story  “हिंदी ”.  We extend our heartiest thanks to the learned author  Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi Ji (who is very well conversant with Hindi, Sanskrit,  English and Urdu languages) for this beautiful translation and his artwork.)

 ☆  Hindi… ☆

Forget about Hindi. Come out of the fantasy world. Hindi can never be the language of education, writing, administration, diplomacy etc. The status of Hindi and English which is as of now is only permanent.

Hearing him, my eyes lit up. This is the same person who said,… Leave the matter of Jammu and Kashmir. The status of J&K which is as of now is permanent.

Country is with the hope.

© Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM

Pune

≈  Blog Editor – Shri Hemant Bawankar/Editor (English) – Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM ≈




English Literature – Stories – ☆ The Judge and the Judged ☆ Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury

Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury

☆ Story – The Judge and the Judged ☆ Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury ☆

The train has touched the platform and we two are ready. Not many but just a few of us will alight from this compartment. This is the privilege of travelling in the first class. What to talk of the general compartments which are always filled beyond their capacity, even in sleeper coachs people have to fight for their seats. Even to get their reserved seats sometimes they have to run after the T.T. who, under certain circumstances, might put a mask like face and never bother. A great diplomat of everyday life! But away from all these chaos we enjoy all our journey quite peacefully even in an overcrowded train. This is the advantage of being the government’s right hand!

‘Namaste, Saab! Parnam, malkin (ma’am).’

The moment he saw me standing near the door of the compartment, Ramaasre addressed us. Also our driver was with him.

‘Everything fine here?’ I asked and said, ‘Pick up the luggage.’

They were carrying our suitcases and just a few other things.

My wife asked, ‘Everything alright at home?’

‘Yes, malkin.’

We followed them and reached the parking lot. The driver opened the rear doors of the car and we both were seated.

Maneuvering the ups and downs of the road our blue coloured Panther car starts running.

Truly he needs the vacation most who has just returned from a holiday. We really spent a pleasant holiday there in the lap of great Himalaya. Treading the path in the company of pines and deodars. Listening silently to the wind whispering through the leaves of the trees and the music of ever flowing streams. In the horizon the white capped mountain peaks would look like namazis sitting in a row offering their prayer in the courtyard of some mosque. During the sun rise or sunset they would exhibit a kaleidoscope of colours. Who would think of coming back to this place again? The same old city, full of potholes, the ever flowing murky drain waters, the life’s daily chorus of bickering and squabbling!

‘What happened? Again lost in thoughts?’ my wife asked.

‘Oh nothing. Just thinking about that place and our journey.’

But besides all the serene and glorious beauties of the king of mountains an incident had greatly shaken me and my heart was filled up to the brim with old memories. I met Shyam bhaiya there.

From Nazibabad town, near Hardwar, a single railway line goes up to Kotdwar. From that non-descript hill station, leaving the roads to Poudi or Lancedown we drove towards northeastern part of the hills. As such there was no city with a big name on our way. Only a few townships and rural markets on the road side. No TV shop, nothing. Some small sweet shops only, waiting for their customers till it’s dark. You cannot buy a book from anywhere, only a few magazines are available in some book corners.

When we reached our destination the sun was already bidding his farewell. A crimson red hue spread all over, from heaven to the mountain peaks, and we two were shivering in spite of our heavy woolen garments.

‘Right now I badly need a cup of really hot tea.’ I murmured to my wife. But even that was denied by the circumstances. Although the government guest house was already booked for us but the chowkidar was nowhere to be found. An old woman sitting nearby said, ‘He was waiting for you. But now he has gone to bazar for vegetables etc.’

Now what? We had to wait. My wife took shelter inside the car and I, rubbing both my palms, crossed the road to have a look at the river from the cliff above.

Far below the silver coloured waves of Gandhari were dancing. Bent like a sickle the river was running down stream. I was spell bound.

‘Saab, be careful. Don’t go near the edge.’ Someone called out from the stony path below.

I was alarmed and withdrew my steps. I heard the footsteps of someone coming very quickly. Next, the man was standing by my side, ‘Sir, its Gandhari River.’

‘Why Gandhari?’ the moment I turned my face towards him I was stunned.

The man too was startled, ‘You – oh, sir, your face seems to be quite familiar.’

I didn’t say anything. I just first wanted to read his thoughts.

‘You – your face just reminds me one of my cousins. My mamaji’s eldest son, Adi. Although for years we’ve not seen each other.’

Now, all doubts wiped off, I was pretty sure. Adi was my pet name. But presently there was no one to call me by this. The childhood memories overwhelmed in my heart. I clasped his hands, ‘For sure you’re our Shyam bhaiya. Isn’t it?’ 

‘Oh Adi! What a surprise!’ he took hold of both of my hands. Probably he very much wished to hug me tightly but by our dresses the difference between us was so evident that he restrained himself.           

Both of our hearts were overflowed with the emotions and the memories of the past. For a few seconds we just kept on seeing each other without saying a word. Then I smiled, ‘So Shyam bhaiya, why this river is called Gandhari?’

‘Adi, you see, from the valley this flows into a cave and no one knows exactly where it comes out. Just like Gandhari, the queen of Hastinapur, who had blindfolded her own eyes, this river too has disappeared from human eyes. Willingly.’

‘Now tell me how did you come here? And where is Lajo bua (the father’s sister)?’

‘It all happened five years ago when ma breathed her last. Since then I’m all alone and roaming about this place.’  

By now we had reached near our car. Silently I gestured to my wife to touch his feet but she didn’t pay any heed. Obviously she was hesitating because of the mark of poverty on his attire and appearance. In our society a book is judged more by its cover than by its content.

‘So you’ve brought her too. Welcome bahu.  God bless you!’ Before she herself would pay him respect he cleverly managed the embarrassing situation.

In the meantime the chowkidar came running, ‘When have you reached sahib? I just went down to the bazar to look for you.’

‘And left us shivering here in the cold?’ Naturally my tone was not quite gentle. ‘Well, now can you get us some hot tea?’

‘Adi, wait a bit. I’ll bring it. You two just take a little rest till then.’ said Shyam bhaiya and then he turned to the chowkidar, ‘Dogre, in the mean time you make hot water for your sahib. They must be tired after such a long journey.’

‘Who is this man?’ My wife asked me as soon as we entered our room.

‘He is Shyam bhaiya, son of Lajo bua. I was a child when Lajo bua lost her husband and took shelter in our house with her only son.’

‘I see.’ She had no inclination to hear his story and she went for a wash.

I too was not interested in telling her every detail but who can rein his own thoughts? As if a strong storm broke in and it began turning the pages in my mind. Just like the scenes in a TV screen, all the happenings were visible before my eyes.

Ours was a prosperous family. We had agricultural property in our village, a big house in the city and tremendous social position and recognition earned by my grandfather and father. So when Lajo bua’s husband died in a road accident and her in laws treated her in the same way as is customary in all the villages of India, she, with her eight year old son, had nowhere to go except to beg for a refuge in our house, although she was not my father’s real sister, only a distant relative.

However my father provided her a shelter in the house. At first my mother and all the three aunts were not happy at all. But she became the family cook without any salary so they were all pleased as well.  

Shyam bhaiya started going to a school, but he was more of a payless servant for everybody. My elder uncle, taking rest after returning from office, would suddenly make a call, ‘Shyam -!’ He would give him a five rupee note and say, ‘Go quickly and get me a packet of cigarette from Mangru’s betel shop.’

Closing his books Shyam bhaiya would run to the market. In the meantime Bhullan ahir, our cowhand, would appear in the inner courtyard and call out, ‘Bahuji, send the milk bucket.’

Next my grandpa’s voice would be audible from every corner of the house, ‘Shyam! Where is he? Who will now take hold of the calf? God knows where he is gone. Probably loitering with his friends. Does he ever touch his books?’

Without a word Lajo bua would bring the bucket and say to Bhullan, ‘Bhaiya, don’t worry. I’m here to help you. Now start milking the cow.’  

‘Oh sister, why should you take this trouble? Where is Shyam?’

We the children too, were well aware of his position in our family. If during our studies someone would become thirsty, he would immediately ask him, ‘Shyam bhaiya, bring a glass of water for me.’

He would immediately put down his books and fetch it.

During our roof top cricket we would not hesitate to hit the ball with all our strength and the moment it would fly onto the other side of the road we would shout in a chorus, ‘Shyam bhaiya, see, the ball has gone there. Bring it soon.’  

Still he loved us very much. Especially my younger brother Dhruva Narayan, was the apple of his eye. He would bathe and dress him up. When Dhruva would go to loo in the morning, unhesitatingly he would clean him. Whereas I, his elder brother, could never clean his nose even. He was Dhruva’s partner at play. His riding horse. After all these Dhruva would sleep in his lap only, ‘Tell me that story of yesterday.’

Mother complained sometime, ‘I’m nobody for Chotu. Shyam is everything.’

But she was happy and contented, ‘It’s nice to have some free hours.’

Lajo bua never said anything on his son’s behalf. A sinking man tries to grasp at a piece of straw and here she was afraid of drowning in the whirl pool of life, so …….

I still remember the incident of a Mahashivratri evening. Dadi (my grandma) came out with flower and belpatta (wood apple leaves) on a bronze dish and asked my youngest uncle to take her to the Shiva temple, ‘I must bow before Mahadev and offer milk to him.’

She kept fast on that day and not even a drop of water she would drink. But my uncle flatly denied, ‘Oh ma, I’ve got enough in my hands to do. I don’t have time.’

It was Shyam bhaiya again who ferried dadi’s boat to her destination. And I still remember that night my uncle went to see Rajkapoor’s movie ‘Sangam’ for the seventeenth time. It was the prevailing fashion in those days. There were people who had even made a silver jubilee of viewing it.

 So, this way Shyam bhaiya was being groomed and reared in our family. Lajo bua had high hopes that someday his son would be capable to take care of his mother, but he was not interested in his studies and he could not pass high school in his first attempt.

‘How was the tea?’

‘Great!’

‘Hundred percent milk tea. I know how much fond of milk you are. You used to drink a full glass of raw milk, no?’

I had smiled. Now while going home all the scenes from those childhood days and that spent on the Himalayas were moving like a live broadcast in my mind…….

That night the chowkidar had prepared baked brinjal and pulses of arhar for us but next day onwards Shyam bhaiya himself took the responsibility of the kitchen. During the day he would be our travelling guide. Someday he would take us to Kimkaleshwar temple situated at the hill top, next day to some fort made of stone and earth, built by some unknown Garhwali king. Then again a journey to the sun rise or sunset point.

While walking he would often ask me, ‘Adi, do you know the name of this tree?’

It had some berry like fruits on it.

‘It’s Kafal. The famous sweet and sour fruits of Uttarakhand.’ Next day again he would test my knowledge of Botany. Again I would fail and he would smile, ‘It’s Kinkopa!’

It was chowkidar who would prepare the morning breakfast for us. After that we three would go out and when we would return Shyam bhaiya would prepare various dishes. Someday gajar ka halwa, next day a vegetable dish of mountain chillies.

I’ve visited every nook and cranny of our vast country but nowhere was I bestowed with so much of love and affection! Nowhere ever have I enjoyed so much!

One day I had asked him, ‘Shyam bhaiya, what do you do for a living?’

‘Oh my Adi, there is nothing much to talk about me. Just let me know your achievements in life. You must be a big shot now. You were so good in your studies.’ 

I don’t know how much intelligent I was in my studies but life was always generous to me. Even when I would play ludo in my childhood the dice would turn and turn and most of the time I would get a six. Even if the other chaps couldn’t get a single piece out, my all four pieces would reach ‘Home’, the finishing point. In the same way when all the students, good or mediocre, were running after Biology because there was a huge unemployment among the engineers and suicide by unemployed engineer was an everyday news, I opted for History in High School. Got first division easily. There was no question of crossing the bar of PMT, the Great Wall of China. I did LLB instead and won the hurdle race of service examinations. Those days reservation was not such an issue. My progress in life was smooth indeed.  

During our long and short conversations Shyam bhaiya once told me that he had worked in different places after going from our house. He had worked as a garage mechanic, then a truck driver. He had a natural skill in all these manual works. Later he took Lajo bua with him and the great Himalaya became his abode. Sometime a sadness echoed in his voice, ‘Adi, I regret that I’m such a worthless son that I couldn’t fulfil the hopes of my mother.’

The sense of despair choked his voice and the alpine dewdrops rolled from his eyes. His sorrows were buried under the snow covered bosom of Himalaya. As if a gust of wind blew the veil of night from the face of deodar and pines and to me the moaning of leaves became audible!

Silently I clasped his hands.

Shyam bhaiya was our play mate. The kites made by him had no parallel in our neighbourhood. He taught us the art of flying the kite and the kites made by him would frequently touch the sky! On the day of Makar Sankranti, the transition of the Sun into Capricorn in its celestial path, which occurs in mid-January, there was none who could give him a fight in kite flying.

It was the time when because of a happening his total life was changed.

May be, I was in class eighth and he probably had crossed the barrier of class tenth. One day Dhaniya bua, the house maid, had kept two ten rupee notes on a table to buy sweets etc. as she had a plan to visit the temple. But at the end of her domestic chores she found that the notes were gone, ‘O my god! Bhabhi, I had left here twenty rupees. Who has taken that?’

‘What happened? Why are you yelling like that?’

‘See Bhabhi, it’s a poor man’s hard earned money. If somebody has stolen it, he would have leprosy in his hand!’

In those days their monthly salary from a household was not more than thirty or forty rupees. Naturally it was a huge amount for her.

Dad too came out to enquire, ‘Why all this fuss?’

‘Bade babu, I had kept twenty rupees here on the table, but now I can’t find them.’

My dad frowned, ‘Who was here right now?’

Dhania bua herself answered, ‘A few minutes ago Shyam had brought the milk upstairs.’

Immediately my dad burst out, ‘Shyam -!’

Awfully shaken, Lajo bua came out of the kitchen, ‘What happened, Bade bhaiya? Why Shyam? Has he done anything?’

‘Must I answer that to you? Call him first.’

In this hullabaloo Shyam bhaiya appeared on the scene. Everybody was witnessing the drama silently. My father asked, ‘Dhaniya had left twenty rupees on this table, where are they gone?’

‘I don’t know, mamaji.’

‘You don’t, then who should?’

‘Except you who else had come here?’ My youngest uncle asked.

Shyam bhaiya was shaking like a leaf in a storm, ‘I tell you the truth. I don’t know nothing.’

Lajo bua couldn’t restrain herself. She ran madly towards her son and slapped him hard across his face, ‘You, a thief! How dare you do that? Oh, why don’t you die?’

‘Amma, I really don’t know who has stolen the money.’ He was fumbling helplessly.

‘He won’t cough up this way.’ Father took out his belt and started raining it on his back.

Lajo bua was no more in herself. She cried out like an insane, ‘Kill him. Yes, bade bhaiya, for heaven’s sake do it for me.’

Who can say it was a tearless cry of her heart or a futile outcry against her destiny?

Mother tried to stop my dad, ‘Want to take his life? Don’t forget he is none to you.’

No one bothered to ask who the real culprit was. Without caring for any evidence everybody had accepted him as the sinner. For a poor, the poverty itself is his greatest crime.

Anyway, the money was not to be found anywhere. Though dad was restrained by ma but it was now the turn of Lajo bua to beat and kick that unfortunate creature.

Ma gave some money to Dhania bua and she left the place.

Shyam bhaiya, with blood smeared all over his body, was left lying in a corner. No one asked him for the dinner. Lajo bua too didn’t eat anything that night.

Like a coward I hid myself in the adjacent room. I was trembling with fear and witnessing everything.

Many a times Shyam bhaiya had to bear with various insults but this time it was a sheer torture.

Next morning, he was not to be found anywhere.

My uncle commented, ‘Just look if the bird has flown with some other things as well.’      

Not a single word was pronounced by his unfortunate mother. Next day onwards she kept a stony silence.

Well, when I grew up I came to know that my uncle had unscrupulously taken a larger share of the family property from my father. Only money was the oxygen for his existence. He wouldn’t even care to spare Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, if ever he could get a chance to cheat her. He was worthy of his name, Lakshminarayan.

None but Dhruva only wept for Shyam bhaiya. The rider had his horse gone. Throughout the day he would weep and call, ‘Shyam bhaiya, where are you? Come and be my horse, please.’

Lajo bua never shed a drop of tear in front of anybody. She kept her mouth completely shut. If his finger is cut off a man cries in agony but if the whole arm is severed he just collapses.

Probably my dad had made enquiries in our neighbourhood and other places. Two months had passed without any news about him. But nobody bothered.

Then one day a letter came to Lajo bua, ‘Amma, don’t worry about me. Let me settle a bit and then I’ll bring you here.’

After that no more letter, nor any thing. Who could guess what was going on in Lajo bua’s heart?

After six or seven months, suddenly one morning, Shyam bhaiya appeared. He bowed before my father and other elders. No one talked to him. When we two were alone I said, ‘Really you’re now a free bird. No studies, no exam, nothing. You have money in your pocket and you can do whatever you like.’

‘Don’t say that, Adi. Is it a life worth living? Well, you must work hard for your studies. You should earn name, fame and everything. You must be the worthy son of mamaji.’

By the evening he left our house with his mother. For ever. After this, who would bother to ask where they would be staying and who would care for a letter from them?

It was forty five years since. And now I had met him again. Now when I’m on the verge of my retirement, my heart is brimming with a carefree joy and rainbow of colours.

It was our last night in the lap of Himalaya. As the dusk fell, Shyam bhaiya said, ‘Let’s go into the jungle and you’ll see a thing which you can never dream of. There is a place on the bank of the river Gandhari where the wild animals come regularly to drink water. Standing on the edge of the cliff above the river you can watch it. Will you? Don’t worry, there is nothing to be scared of. It’ll be a life time experience.’

But my wife opposed vehemently, ‘Not at all. Is it the time to enter a forest? The night is so dark and there the animals are roaming all around.’

Shyam bhaiya tried to explain, ‘What you’re afraid of, bahu? I’ve been here for last twenty five years. I know pretty well how much we should fear the jungle and how much we should love it. Till I’m with Adi, you just don’t worry.’

I too was very much exited. From Corbett National Park to Periyar – I’ve visited many a forest but my luck didn’t permit me to see even a fox.

My wife’s whining continued. Silently she must be blaming Shyam bhaiya. I tried to make her comfortable and said, ‘Close the door behind us.’

The night time beauty of the forest can only be felt but can’t be expressed in words. It just gives a call to everybody, ‘Come on, if you can dare. Raise the veil from all my mysteries and secrets and see for yourself.’ The cold and breezy wind was biting. Even the hand gloves couldn’t protect the fingers from getting cramps. They became numb. Far off, the snow covered peaks were shining in the moonlight. The breeze was frolicking among the leaves. They were fluttering and the flakes of snow were falling from the trees like some white flowers. As if whole of the jungle was bathed in milk.

Shyam bhaiya had put on a sweater on him and a muffler worn around his face. I had a torch in my hand. Visibly he didn’t bother for the light. He was well acquainted with every corner of this jungle. With the help of torch I was looking if there was any ditch or a stone or a fallen branch of a tree. Or, was I afraid of putting my foot on a snake or something? He was moving ahead as usual. Effortlessly. When I queried him he smiled, ‘Adi, its winter, all the snakes are sleeping in their pits. They won’t come to welcome you.’

 With my pen I can never express what I experienced that night. We two were seated between a tree trunk and a big stone. He cautioned me, ‘Keep absolute silence.’

Off and on, there was a snow fall and it seemed the moonlight was frozen on the leaves. Suddenly there came a sort of chuckling sound from the bank of Gandhari, below.

‘Look….’ he gestured in that direction.

Spell bound I was looking at. At last my wish was fulfilled in the lap of Himalaya. As little Dhruva used to do, silently I grasped Shyam bhaiya’s hands.

Just down the slope of the mountain a group of deer and chital was drinking from the river. They would look around to see if there were none and again they would bend their neck on to the water. The moment their brown skin quivered, the white spots there on would glide, as if the stars had descended from the sky and they were dancing in the falling snow!

‘Now we should return. Bahu must be worried at room.’

The experience was totally intoxicating. But one must return to his daily life.

‘I can never forget what you’ve have shown me tonight.’ I whispered.

‘So whenever you’ll think of this place you’ll think of me too?’

‘Don’t say like that bhaiya. How can we forget you?’

He just smiled silently and didn’t say anything.

Frankly, I just had no inkling of what was I going to say. Without any prior thought these words just slipped from my mouth, ‘Unfortunately that day you were accused and punished without anything committed by you.’

‘What else I could do? Could I tell someone else’s name?’

‘Were you aware of?’

I was startled. I looked at him. It seemed to me that as the river Gandhari had willingly disappeared from public eyes, Shyam bhaiya too, knowing everything pretty well, had disappeared. As the story goes in Purana, Shiva didn’t bother for amrit, the nectar of life. He chose the poison and kept it in his throat for ever. Yes, Shyam bhaiya too had to drink the poison of life silently.

‘Oh just forget it, Adi.’

That night when we reached the guest house he prepared aloo ka paratha and chutney of coriander leaves for us. Besides the taste, it was his affection for us that made it really superb.

Next day we had to come about one fifty kilometer down to catch our train. He insisted on accompanying us. I tried to explain it won’t be an easy job for him to cover the distance by bus while he would return. But he was adamant.

When the train started he smiled and said, ‘Adi, you must come again. There are lots of things to see here. You’ll really enjoy. Do come, my brother.’

‘Why don’t you come there to meet us?’

‘Me?’ To me it seemed the water of Gandhari was glistening in his eyes.

The train started moving ……

I simply could not move away from the door of the compartment. I kept on looking at him. My wife called out, ‘Why don’t you come in?’

But I failed to listen to her. It was not because of the clattering of the running wheels of the train but the sound of my father’s belt raining on Shyam bhaiya was reverberating in my ears. Like Neelkanth, the blue necked Shiva, he retained the poison of insult and dishonour within himself, in spite of knowing who had done it.

Actually during those days I had grown fond of cigarette smoking. I had lost a bet among my co smokers and I had to take them to a movie. I thought those were my mother’s money. I told my ma that I was going to the playground and reached the cine hall. Shyam bhaiya had knowledge of all my doings. Quite often he had tried to persuade me, ‘Adi, smoking is not a good thing. If mamaji will come to know of, it will be too bad. See, you’ve to become a respectable and well established man of the society.’

Today I’m well established. I’ve a beautiful bungalow, a costly car, social recognition and what not. But quite often my heart bleeds whenever I remember the happening of that fateful day. Why couldn’t I gather the courage to utter the truth? Probably father was so enraged that too because the maid of the house had lost her money. Moreover the incident took place in our house. It was against our social prestige. I was the sinner but Shyam bhaiya was punished.

And today ……..

‘Grandpa and granny are here! They’ve arrived.’ My grandchildren came out running in the portico. My eldest daughter in law was standing there to welcome us. She pulled her saree on her head.

Our car has reached our home. The guard is opening the gate. He salutes me. What’s written there on the side of the gate? Oh! Is my vision getting blurred? I just can’t read it ……..

Mr. Justice Aditya Narayan Singh!

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣      

© Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury

Contact: C, 26/35-40. Ramkatora. Varanasi. 221001. Mo. (0) 9455168359, (0) 9140214489 Tel. (0542) 2204504.

Email: asrc.vns@gmail.com

≈ Editor – Shri Hemant Bawankar/Editor (English) – Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM ≈




English Literature – Stories – ☆ Kosi Sutluj Express ☆ Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury

Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury

☆ Story – Kosi Sutluj Express ☆ Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury ☆

One lakh twenty-five thousand cusecs of water! Who knows how much it is! This much is flowing through the river Kosi every day during this flood! Otherwise, every year barely five lakhs would flow in the month of September. Or say, nine lakh cusecs in the month of Kuhar or October. Just some days ago, it was a harmless snake which, a couple of days back, has turned into a giant, ferocious and all engulfing anaconda.

And now Kosi is a bit tamed. Its fast-flowing water, washing both the banks, has become a bit subdued. The river Kosi is now flowing gracefully. The colour of all its tributaries – Panar, Lohandra, Mahanadi and Bakra has turned muddy. From orange. As a python becomes listless when it preys upon a deer and swallows it in toto, in the same way Kosi too has become quite gentle now, quite docile like a child. The water level is going down day by day. Every day and every hour people are praying to their Kosi maiya, ‘O goddess Kosi, please have mercy on us. Save us from all these havocs the flood has brought upon us!’

The crowd on the platform of Harrisongunj is a bit thinner today. A few have returned to their homes. Those who could not, stayed back. Probably they are no more left with a dwelling. Or their huts are half drowned in the mud accumulated over the place. Or because of a dead and decaying animal – a dog or a buffalo, lying there, the whole surrounding is stinking so much that no one can dare to set foot even in the courtyard. Some have come back to the platform again, leaving behind their old parents or children. The flood has brought so much of sand along with its water and spread it in their fields, that now they’re not in a position to sow anything there. Some of them are going to Gujarat or Punjab, the far away provinces, in the hope of finding a place to work as a daily wage labourer.

Already the railway minister, who was elected from this constituency, has announced the ticket free travel for the people from places like Saharsa, Araria, Katihar, Supaul, Purnia and Madhepura. So, the railway track has been repaired near the Harrisongung station and again the trains are running along. No one is going to check their tickets when they will board the train. And there are people all around. Packed inside the train, and sitting on its roof too. Every train is not only extremely overcrowded, evidently, they seem to be pouring human beings.                   

Sitting in front of a dry hand pump, Biroja is smoking a bidi. After two days, passed without any food, this afternoon probably rice and pulses will be doled out. May be a piece of onion too will be there for everyone, of course if the luck permits. He has been roaming on the platform, asking every known face, just to get a firsthand knowledge of this. And if the information is found to be correct, he must go to the embankment and bring his daughter Janakdulari from there. His sons, Murli and Madho, are already here, playing on the platform. And his wife is waiting there on the bank of the canal with Janakdulari and Chotu, the youngest son, sleeping in her lap.    

On the embankment of about a hundred-kilometer-long canal, starting from Baluabazar of Supol to Beldor of Khagaria, peoples from various places, have now made their temporary shelters. Many years ago, Kosi would flow along the route of Sursar River; gradually Kosi left that route and moved to west. When, on the night of eighteenth of August the embankment on the Kusaha gave way, from Baluabazar to Saharsa hundreds of villages were submerged or washed away. People fled their homes and villages and reached here carrying their belongings and children, with tears welled up in their eyes. They settled here for a shelter, even if temporary.  

Unfortunately, that embankment place has not been included in the relief register of the district administration. So, when those official people come to distribute eatables from the government, they would come up to the railway platform only. Just after fulfilling their scheduled duty, they would return without caring for those who have been left out. Only a handful of cadres from the peasant organizations, or the sanyasis (sages) of different ashrams or some N.G.O. people are standing by the side of these hapless men and women to help them fight their dreadful hunger.

Mostly it happens that when sattu (powdered Bengal gram) or chiura (parched rice) is distributed at the platform there, the people over here have to keep a fast. And when some kind hearted people come in groups to distribute food materials here, the people on the platform just keep on looking at the signal – ‘When will this red light become green for us? When the passage of food to us, on the platform, will be cleared?’

A state of peculiar contradiction exists between the two places of shelter, when one gets to eat; the other has to keep the fast.

So it can jolly well be said that Biroja is lucky. Half of his family lives on the platform and other half is there on the bund. So, here or there, where so ever if the food is distributed, every one of his family gets at least his or her little share. And the pangs of hunger are taken care of.

Biroja can still remember the scene of that dreadful night. Everything happened so suddenly that there was hardly any time left to think and take a decision in emergency.

‘Hey, get out of your houses. The flood water has arrived at our doorsteps!’ People were shouting all around in his neighbourhood.

Splash…splash…! That night when the water from the river entered their village, at first they were shocked. Everyone was at a loss to decide what to do. As his neighbours were doing, he too took all of his family members to the bund, ‘Don’t waste time, Janki’s mother, quick. Let’s go to the embankment.’

That night onwards the sky became their roof overhead. And the next morning when he came to know that the packets were being distributed at the platform, he rushed there with his sons, Murli and Madho, and his daughter Janakdulari, ‘Come on my children, let’s reach there before those people leave the place.’ The result of all these was that their names were entered in the platform register there.

‘O god! O Mahadeva!’Biroja whispers to himself, ‘I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop!’ But he knew pretty well that he couldn’t do that. He is too helpless to fight against his lot. He is now sitting there near the hand pump just below the platform, and his gaze is fixed at some unseen place in the horizon. There is only one question burning in his mind, ‘Tomorrow or after that, what will happen? The flood water may take days to recede. Till then how can I manage everything? How can I feed my children and my wife?’

‘What the hell are you worried about, Biroja?’ Somebody, from behind, touched his shoulder, ‘Do as I have advised you to.’  

Biroja startles as if hit by a thunder bolt. He forgets to smoke the remaining butt of his bidi. He is thoroughly shaken when the burning end of the bidi touches the tip of his right forefinger, ‘Ouch!’ He shakes his hand in the air. He blows air on his finger and puts it in his mouth just to cool down the burning sensation.

‘Just see the current rate of the maize. Last year it was seven hundred. But this year? Just see for yourself. So, they all are left in the fields to rot. Those that have been brought here in the sacks are rotting too. None to lift them from the platform. I am worried about you. I just don’t know what will you eat yourself and how will you feed your children? Just think. We can pay you four thousand. And it’s not a trifle.’

Biroja is just looking at that man in stony silence. He forgets to utter a single word.

‘Well, bhaiya (buddy), if you’re not happy with this much, five hundred bucks more can be arranged. Not a single paisa more. See, nothing will be left for me. You are from my own village, so I’m doing this for the sake of you only, although surely it will be a huge loss for me. Well, what do ye say?’ He showed the folded thing on his waist. It was quite apparent that in the folds of his dhoti there was money there. He pulled Biroja’s right forefinger and pressed it on the swell below his shirt. 

“Oh!” Biroja lets out a cry. This is the finger which was burnt just now.

The man is scratching his bearded chin. It is a muggy August day; he is sweating and his shirt is wet in front and on his back. S,o he pulls up the stained collar of his shirt and looks around. Then he takes out a little box from his pocket. He sprinkles a little khaini (tobacco leaves) on his left palm and takes out a bit of lime with the tip of the finger and starts rubbing them together. When the mixture is ready after a few minutes, he blows the dust out of it for a while and offers it to Biroja, ‘Come on. The gods in heaven only know when the sacred food will be doled out to the starving people. Why don’t you realize every year this is the ‘loot of June’, a booty for many. If the embankment doesn’t give way, how on earth will it be repaired? And if it is not repaired how on earth the brother-in-law of our irrigation minister is going to get the contract of this repair work? Only we, the poor have to die. Isn’t it a fact? You must think how you are going to feed your children. How will you marry them off? So, I insist my friend, and say, just accept the deal. The yoke on your shoulder will become lighter.’

Biroja is unable to speak, as if he has been bitten by a snake. His eyes have the same feverish gaze that reflects upon the eyes of a carcass that floats in the water of overflowing Kosi.

‘You see the train is going to leave by evening. Once it departs, then you don’t have a chance any more. So, gear up. Let me suppose the deal is final then?’ The man vanishes in the huge sea of the crowd, just like a drop of water.

Daily two trains come from Katihar to Harrisongunj. The moment the train for Delhi arrived at the platform the people rushed towards it. Some are carrying on their heads all their household things wrapped in a cloth and tied with a knot. Others are carrying all their belongings in the tin boxes put on their heads. They’re leaving their ancestral homes in search of new pastures of life. Mostly young and adults they are. And some old ones are there too in the crowd. Only a few have their families with them. In this tempest of life they want to swim together. If their boats are capsized, they are ready to drown together. Life or death – they will face it together. The sage Valmiki had written about the exile of Ram, and the poet of the greatest epic the Mahabharata, Vedvyasa, had penned the story of the exile of the Pandavas, but who will write about the exile of these miserable thousands? Whose pen does hold so much fire and tears altogether?      

‘Dad, let’s go and bring didiya (elder sister) here.’ Murli is rubbing his face on the sweaty back of his father.

‘This train will leave too. Don’t know when they would come with the food packets?’ Madho can no longer bear the hunger pangs. Impatiently he tugs at the sleeve of his father’s shirt.     

‘Oh! They’ll come in jeep or truck. And not by any train.’ The elder Murli tries to explain and console his younger brother.

Biroja stands up. All the three are going to the canal. At this very moment that is the dwelling of every nine out of ten people living around the place.

Janakdulari was applying kajal (collyrium) just under the lower lids of the eyes of their youngest brother, Chotu. She runs towards them the moment she has seen them coming. She whispers to her brothers, ‘Today they would distribute over there, I guess. Isn’t it?’

‘That’s why we’ve come. Come on, quick.’ Although Murli and Madho are just little children, but they know pretty well that no one should get a wink that khichri (mixture of rice and pulses cooked together) is going to be distributed at the platform. If the news leaks out only they are to lose. So, while coming here, Biroja has been continuously reminding them, ‘Just don’t say anything to anybody.’ So, although their mouths are shut, a joyful expectation brimmed in their eyes. And their sister does not fail to read it.

“Ma, just hold Chotu.”Janakdulari puts her brother in her mother’s lap and goes out with them, ‘We’ll return shortly.’

 By the time the four of them arrived at the station, a truck had already reached there with the relief materials. The men and women were jostling in the crowd just to get the little bit of his or her share before anybody else. Scrambling, abusing and scuffling continued…. The humanity was dwarfed in front of the helplessness and the hunger.

None could wait and they started eating from their thalis. Murli says, ‘Let’s take something for maiya, dadda (grandpa) and dadi!’

‘Sure.’ says Biroja and before he could stand a man’s grip was there on his shoulder again. The man was standing just behind him. He gives a wink. Biroja pushes his thali towards Madho and follows him. The man walks up to the end of the platform, and Biroja is following him like a charmed snake.

‘Hey yaar, see, Kosi Sutluj Express will be leaving any moment. Keep this. Four thousand five hundred is here. Don’t worry. In future you can meet your daughter any time.’ The man pushes a bundle in his hand. Biroja withdraws his hands.

‘No, no. What the hell are you talking? I – I can’t accept this.’ Biroja is fumbling. It seems his voice lacks its strength. So much money! Altogether! As if it is god sent. Hey Issar (O god), save me!

‘Come on. Keep this. Just think – with this amount of money for how many days you can give your family a square meal each day. Man, can you ever remember how the stomach belches when it’s full?’ That man grabs Biroja’s hand and he pushes the money forcefully in it.

Biroja has now four thousand and five hundred crunched in his fist. And each note has an inscription printed on it – just below the pillar of the king Ashoka, beside the smiling face of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, – ‘Victory will prevail for the truth!’

‘Call her. Be quick. The train is about to leave.’ That man gives him a push.

But Madho is not pleased at all with this man. He is eyeing everything suspiciously. He says to his sister, ‘Didiya, what the hell does this man say every day to dad?’ There is frank irritation in his voice.  

Murli’s brows are raised too, ‘Maiya was abusing this man that day, and didn’t you hear?’ He too is at a loss. He fails to apprehend what is going on.

The Kosi Sutluj Express whistled. Suddenly that man comes running towards them. He took hold of Janakdulari’s wrist in a firm grip and he is dragging her on the platform.

Janakdulari starts wailing, ‘Babu, babu! Look, he is dragging me. Where is he taking me to? And why? Why don’t you do something, babu?’

‘Come with me, baby. You will rule like a queen there. Everything will be in your hand. You will get a square meal every day. To your fill. And I’ve already paid your father.’ God knows from where two of his accomplices have arrived and they are shielding the whole happenings. No one can see them. No one bothers.

Janakdulari is wailing. She tries to escape; she wants to cling to her father, but in vain. She wants to run to her father, but she cannot.

There were two policemen standing on the platform. Just a little while ago they were raising their lathis and abusing everybody, ‘Be off. Don’t make a mess.’ But right now they have just melted into thin air. Janakdulari’s shrill cry is drowned in the awful din of voices on the platform. The train starts moving. That man is dragging her. He jumps and gets into the train. He pulls her up.

Both her brothers are shaking their dad violently with their little hands, ‘Babu, that badmash is taking her away.’

The train is moving…..It is gathering speed…

Biroja rushes towards that compartment….He wants to get in, but….

That man was standing at the door. He hits him on his face with his fist, ‘Get off. I’ve already paid you. Go away, you dirty beggar!’

‘Janakia, my darling! Come back. Get down my baby.’ Biroja falls on the platform, from the running train.

‘Babu! Didiya, don’t go!’ Murli and Madho are running after the train. They are wailing. They want to get in.

But Kosi Sutluj Express is running too fast for them….

And the two brothers just fail to catch it.

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣      

© Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury

Contact: C, 26/35-40. Ramkatora. Varanasi. 221001. Mo. (0) 9455168359, (0) 9140214489 Tel. (0542) 2204504.

Email: asrc.vns@gmail.com

≈ Editor – Shri Hemant Bawankar/Editor (English) – Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM ≈




English Literature – Stories – ☆ The Result ☆ Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury

Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury

Brief Introduction

  • Birth –  -January 18, 1955
  • Education – MBBS (IMS/BHU)
  • Publications – 4 books (2 in Hindi, 1 each in English and Bengali) and two are yet to come.
  • Translations – Books and articles are translated in English, Odiya, Marathi and Gujarati.
  • Awards – CBT awarded  stories and novel, “Kamaleshwar Smriti Katha Award (2013, 2017 and 2019)” by Kathabimb.
  • Honour –  “Hindi Sevi Samman” by Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwa Vidyalaya, Wardha (December 2016). 

☆ Story -The Result ☆ Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury ☆

In the horizon, the sky was beginning to brighten. Bordering the green tree tops, a silvery white glow appeared gradually. The sun was already a bit up in the sky. The sunrays, sieving through the leaves, were peeping through the window, but little Arjun was still asleep.

‘Get up my son. You’re getting late for your school. ’Gargi started pushing Arjun, still lying blissfully in the centre of the double bed. 

‘Oh, amma, today is the result day.’ Without opening his eyes Arjun protested.

‘So what? Won’t your driver uncle Murari come to pick you up at 6.30 sharp? You must stand there on the street before he reaches, otherwise again he will be angry with you and complain to me, understand?’ Gargi was a bit agitated. She must finish her morning chores. But she was not able to start preparing the breakfast for everybody until she would send Arjun to his school.  

Arjun’s father, Anurag, was busy doing his daily shave. Standing in front of the wash-basin mirror, with his face covered with foams of shaving cream he said, ‘The verb ‘sleep’ already has a double e. But for our Arjun it consists of half a dozen of e’s. Ha! Ha!’   

Anyway, things started working. Arjun got up, brushed his teeth, quickly gulped a glass of milk under the watchful eyes of his mother, then straight way went to bathroom. Although in haste but he was happy because today he won’t have to carry the heavy school bag. Today their annual result would be declared. The students would get their progress reports. 

Before going out with his father to catch his daily auto he touched the feet of his grandfather and granny. They smiled and blessed him, ‘Don’t worry. Everything will be alright.’

‘Daddy, what will you get me today?’ While the father and son duo was waiting for the auto driver, Arjun shook his father’s hand.

‘And what do you want this year?’ Anurag looked into his face.

‘Of course a bat, you’ve already promised.’ The son was looking at his father with expectation. ‘It’s me and Krishna will play with it.’

‘Alright, I’ll get it for you if you get full marks in math.’ The father committed diplomatically.

‘Namaste, sirji.’ Murari, the auto driver, who arrived just in time, welcomed him, ‘Come inside and be seated.’

‘Bye!’ Anurag smiled, ‘Take care.’

Arjun shook his hand and got into the vehicle. The auto was running on the city road maneuvering the pot holes and the heaps of rubbles on its way.

As usual the auto was full up to its brim. Fully packed. Today at least it was not over burdened with fat school bags. The boys and girls were chirping like early morning birds. There were about ten of them. Some were awaiting their results very seriously. Others, a bit philosophical, thinking probably – ‘one has to reap what he has sown!’ And a few were really carefree to some extent.

‘Hi Krishna!’ Arjun pressed the hand of his best friend, sitting beside him.

A yellow coloured school bus over took the auto and immediately it became a prestige issue for the young riders. ‘Fast Murari uncle, speed up. Don’t let it go ahead of us.’ They exclaimed.

Near the school, the bus slowed down. It had to take a right turn. It left the main road and started plying slowly on the unmetalled gravel road. By that time Murari had just reached the turning point and now his auto was running ahead of the bus. The children burst into laughter, ‘Well done uncle! We must win the race!’ 

The bus driver honked his horn, but its sound was drowned in the collective cheers of the auto passengers, ‘Ho! Ho! We’re the first! We’re the first!’

Quite a few buses and autos were already standing there in front of the school boundary wall. The students started getting down. They were talking to each other loudly. Everyone was full of blissful expectations. Some were calling his friend alighting from another bus, ‘Rohit, wait. I’m coming.’

Everybody was moving like the colourful butterflies, flying in the air from flower to flower. School dress? Today? No, no one was in his or her school dress. Why should anybody put that on today? The boys wore coloured shirts, T-shirts and pants. The girls were in jeans, tops and capris. After all it was their result day. The end of the struggle for one whole year! After twelve months of ups and downs of joys and tears, at last the final day of achievement was at their doors. Everybody was in a festive mood.

On the other side of the main gate of the school, keeping a distance, there were men, selling ice creams, cold drinks and chips from their push carts. Two balloon sellers were standing expectantly. But now hardly there was any customer. The real crowd would throng after the report cards were given away and the students would come out. And then it would be their peak business hour.                           

The two friends were discussing something very important about their fathers. Arjun said, ‘Friend, do you know that my father didn’t have to study in UKG at all?’

‘My daddy too, says that he got admission directly in class two. See, they didn’t have any LKG or UKG in their schools. Such a nice thing!’ Holding his water bottle Krishnanand jumped from the auto.    

Both the friends were the students of UKG. Now they would get promoted to class one. From nursery to school. Today, a bar would be crossed in the hurdle race of their lives!

The boys and girls were talking in different groups, sitting or standing at different places. Some on the step of the staircase, others under the trees. 

Both of the friends were braving their way through the crowd. Today they didn’t have to go to their class first. Hand in hand they were eyeing all around. Thoughtfully, Krishnanand said, ‘Just last month my daddy sat for an exam in his office. I fail to understand what sort of exam they take. No result and no mark sheet. Daddy didn’t bring anything home.’

‘Yes, mama says if they clear their exams they get a raise in the salary, that’s all. The grownups are always happy. They don’t have to bother for anything. And for us, even if our result is good, we’ll have to ask our mums for everything that we want.’

They couldn’t solve this puzzle – ‘Why only the grown-ups have so much of freedom? They can do whatever they want. But we cannot go out and play when we wish to.’ Every child thinks when would he grow up? For him, the adulthood means a winged existence! But when they enter their adulthood they become quite nostalgic about their childhood memories.

They met some of their class fellows and talked with some of them.

Suddenly Arjun pulled the sleeve of his friend’s shirt, ‘Look at Adhyayan. Everybody knows he is going to top, but see, he is moving around with a gloomy face. As if he has really failed. Oh! And there, her mother is sitting there on the garden bench, reading Hanuman Chalisa so many times. What a circus!’

‘Arjun, I’m afraid too.’ There was a cloud on Krishnanand’s face.

‘Leave it, yaar. First, let the result come in hand. Why to weep before you fall on the ground, eh?’

‘You know, math makes me really mad. And last night daddy has warned me if I don’t do well in math he won’t spare me.’

‘Oh my god! Don’t our fathers have anything else to do? The moment they see us, they start asking, ‘Do you know this? Do you know that?’ Have they never been a child? Mothers are really nice. No?’

‘Because mothers, themselves, were afraid of math when they were in school.’ said Krishnanand and both of them laughed.

‘They have got only one problem. They start weeping when we do some mischief. That’s very bad.’ Arjun held Krishnanand’s hand and the two marched ahead.

In the mean while the school bell began to peal out. The students ran to assemble for the prayer. After the prayer it was the time for the morning sermon. The school principal smiled and said to the students, ‘Today you’ll get your result. The result of your hard work for one whole year. Many of you will be satisfied with the marks obtained. I congratulate them in advance. But to them who are not happy with their marks I must say, there is nothing to lose your heart. Work hard and next year you’ll do far better. The journey of life is a long one. And remember: Life is an exam where the syllabus is unknown and question papers are not set. In your school exams you’ve your teachers and your books to help you, but in your future life you’ll be all alone to brave your way against all odds. So all the best for your result and all my good wishes for all of you. There’s nothing to be afraid of, just enjoy your life!’   

The assembly was dispersed and all went to their classes. In their class, both the friends were waiting with their hearts throbbing like a running train. Their teacher called out each student’s name and handed over his or her result card. Some were smiling while some were just looking down. When the teacher called them, her eyes got fixed for a second on Krishnanand’s face while handing his report card over to him. Immediately Krishnanand realized that it was not a good omen.

As soon as they came out of the class, it was his math marks only on which Krishnanand focused his eyes. His face looked sullen. It became obvious that any time his eyes could rain tears.

‘What happened, my dear? Something wrong?’ Naturally, Arjun got worried for his friend.

‘Oh, my night-mare came true! Doomed in math!’ Krishnanand was trying hard to hold his tears, ‘Daddy will hardly talk to me.’

Arjun was trying hard to find a solution of the problem. His bosom was overwhelmed with love and sympathy for his friend. Suddenly his mind was struck by an idea. He put his hand on Krishna’s shoulder, ‘Come with me.’

‘But where?’ Krishnanand was a bit perplexed. 

‘Oh, just come along.’ Arjun pulled his hand and walked towards their class room.

When the teacher saw the duo, she smiled, ‘Krishna and Arjun, both the friends are here again, why? What’s the matter?’

Arjun went near her table and entreated her, ‘Ma’am, kindly give half of my math marks to Krishna. You won’t have to give anything separately. Just deduct from my marks and give it to him. Otherwise his daddy will scold him. He won’t talk to him. See, he is so sad. He’ll be so happy if you can do it. Just give him, ma’am, please.’      

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣      

© Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury

Contact: C, 26/35-40. Ramkatora. Varanasi. 221001. Mo. (0) 9455168359, (0) 9140214489 Tel. (0542) 2204504.

Email: asrc.vns@gmail.com

≈ Editor – Shri Hemant Bawankar/Editor (English) – Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM ≈




English Literature – Short Stories ☆ A Strange Reunion ☆ Shri Suraj Kumar Singh

Shri Suraj Kumar Singh

☆ A Strange Reunion ☆ 

 
Mounted on a saddled black horse, the bludgeoned knight came to his old friend.
The old friend that was the sea celebrated the knight’s homecoming. The expression of its joy in the form of tumultuous waves was enchanting.
“Oh dear knight, my good old friend you were born here, you grew here and you left only to come back! What pursuit you endeavoured that you took  a sabbatical from a playful innocent dream you saw with me? 
The knight replied, “The pursuit of truth my friend! To pierce through the melancholy of mortal existence and to know that anything acquired is not carried forever! It gets lost with the winds of time. What remains till the last breathe is the gift of God! Memories but not times, service but not conquests, souls but not people! No one can take them away
I have laid down my sabre which had engravings of accounts of my so-called victories and obituaries of the fallen warriors who dared to stand against it as I myself have become one”
The sea said “In the end you stand emancipated my dear you have emerged victor in the test of time. Find peace in the splashes of my incessant waves and the touch of the gushing winds for the selfless services you’ve rendered as a true sentinel, considering victory as your profession…!

© Suraj Kumar Singh, Ranchi

 

≈ Editor – Shri Hemant Bawankar/Editor (English) – Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM ≈




English Literature – Weekly Column☆ Samudramanthanam – 22 – Umbrella ☆ Mr. Ashish Kumar

Mr Ashish Kumar

(It is difficult to comment about young author Mr Ashish Kumar and his mythological/spiritual writing.  He has well researched Hindu Philosophy, Science and quest of success beyond the material realms. I am really mesmerized.  I am sure you will be also amazed.  We are pleased to begin a series on excerpts from his well acclaimed book  “Samudramanthanam” .  According to Mr Ashish  “Samudramanthanam is less explained and explored till date. I have tried to give broad way of this one of the most important chapter of Hindu mythology. I have read many scriptures and take references from many temples and folk stories, to present the all possible aspects of portrait of Samudramanthanam.”  Now our distinguished readers will be able to read this series on every Saturday.)    

Amazon Link – Samudramanthanam 

☆ Weekly Column – Samudramanthanam – 22 – Umbrella ☆ 

Then former king of heaven ‘Varuna’ came in front of all and said, “Indira you know better that I am the best king of Sura and heaven but destiny has made you king of heaven. You are asking how rain is falling without your permission. Are you forgetting that once all the water of universe including water of rain was in my custody? Now as Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu made you king, they have also taken right of fresh water from me and now I am only the god of ocean water. So, this rain is generated by my ocean water because here everyone has got something or other thing but I haven’t got anything.”

Lord Brahma said, “Varuna, your argue and way is not the way of Devtas. You know that this churning will be helpful for Sura, Asura, sages, animals, birds in short for all live creatures of universe and you are doing wrong to disturb this churning by making ocean rain. And the point of gift which are coming as the byproduct of churning so it is our promise that next gem whatever it will emerge from this ocean ‘Kshirasāgara’ will belong to ‘Varuna’ only. Sura or Asura do you have any objection on it?”

Sura and Indira wants to finish this churning as soon as possible to get final outcome of as liquid of immortality, Amrita from ‘Kshirasāgara’ so they don’t mind if next thing will be given to ‘Varuna’ as in other hand from the day when little disturbance appeared in between the relations of ‘Indira’ and ‘Varuna’ from that day ‘Varuna’ is closer to Bali and Asura.

On the signal of ‘Varuna’ the rain of salty water stopped and churning started.

Now came a big canopy type thing from ocean. It was actually a very big umbrella which came at the surface of ocean.

This was a divine umbrella which was taken by ‘Varuna’ to save creature of ocean during any disaster. This umbrella was appearing on the day of Gawardhan.

© Ashish Kumar

New Delhi

≈ Blog Editor – Shri Hemant Bawankar/Editor (English) – Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM ≈




English Literature ☆ Stories ☆ Weekly Column – Samudramanthanam – 20 – Alakshmi ☆ Mr. Ashish Kumar

Mr Ashish Kumar

(It is difficult to comment about young author Mr Ashish Kumar and his mythological/spiritual writing.  He has well researched Hindu Philosophy, Science and quest of success beyond the material realms. I am really mesmerized.  I am sure you will be also amazed.  We are pleased to begin a series on excerpts from his well acclaimed book  “Samudramanthanam” .  According to Mr Ashish  “Samudramanthanam is less explained and explored till date. I have tried to give broad way of this one of the most important chapter of Hindu mythology. I have read many scriptures and take references from many temples and folk stories, to present the all possible aspects of portrait of Samudramanthanam.”  Now our distinguished readers will be able to read this series on every Saturday.)    

Amazon Link – Samudramanthanam 

☆ Weekly Column – Samudramanthanam – 20 – Alakshmi☆ 

Worshiping of ALakshmi is necessary so that she can leave and make place for beautiful ‘Lakshmi’. If you disrespect ‘ALakshmi’ she will leave you only to taste bidder lemon and chill and allow ‘Lakshmi’ to come, which you can welcome with sweet. This is the darkest night of kartik month called nark chuturdashi, bhhot chaudas and at this night you must accept darkness of universe and your inside then tomorrow you will definitely see beautiful ‘Lakshmi’

Alakshmi folded her hand towards Lord Vishnu and said, “O! my God. Thank you to be so gentle on me. Now I was born. I am the byproduct of people sins. Now I want to do merry. Please suggest me some Bridegroom”

Lord Vishnu saw towards sages, smiles and said, “sage Uddalaka would you like to be do marrying my elder sister-in-law, Alakshmi?”

Uddalaka said, “my dear God what is most pleasing then be your in -law, because Lakshmi is your wife and Alakshmi is her elder sister”

The wedding over, the sage took his wife to his ashram, but she found the place utterly unsuitable for herself. The chanting of the sacred hymns pained her. The atmosphere of peace, serenity and spirituality in the ashram suffocated her. Alakshmi ran out of the house right on to the street. The sage was distressed to see this. He found her conduct not only disgraceful but also completely incomprehensible. He asked her why she ran out of home, why she was crying and what she had found so terribly wrong in his ashram.

Then she told him what he never knew: she could not live in a Satwik (spiritually pure) environment and could live in only a Tamasik (spiritually degenerate) one. She could live where people are violent, hate one another, are jealous of one another, quarrel among themselves, praise themselves and engage in malicious talk about one another, steal, practice no sexual discipline, and where there is the smell of cooked meat. In essence, she could not live where there is cleanliness, calm, contentment and understanding, and where the sacred fire is lit and sacred mantras chanted.

The sage was aghast. He realized that he simply could not live with that woman. Such a woman would bring home only unhappiness and kula (lineage) only disgrace and eventually become the cause of her husband’s degradation in this world and in the other world too. He knew what the shastras had said; one must never live with a woman who is foul-mouthed, quarrelsome and negative. The virtuous sage did not hate her; nor did he feel cheated by Vishnu. He had no complaints against anyone. But at the same time, he realized that there was no possibility at all that his marriage with Alakshmi would work. She was not going to live in the ashram and he was not going to give up life as a sage and neither wanted to impose on the other the life one liked to live. He decided to abandon her.

Uddalaka soon approaches towards the side of ocean churning and said to Lod Vishnu, “My Lord I can’t live with Alakshmi”

Soon ‘Alakshmi also came and stood silence.

Lord Vishnu said, “Ok now I request the tree of Piple, Ficus religiosa to merry with you”

 

© Ashish Kumar

New Delhi

≈ Blog Editor – Shri Hemant Bawankar/Editor (English) – Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM ≈




English Literature ☆ Stories ☆ Weekly Column – Samudramanthanam – 17 – Uchchaihshravas ☆ Mr. Ashish Kumar

Mr Ashish Kumar

(It is difficult to comment about young author Mr Ashish Kumar and his mythological/spiritual writing.  He has well researched Hindu Philosophy, Science and quest of success beyond the material realms. I am really mesmerized.  I am sure you will be also amazed.  We are pleased to begin a series on excerpts from his well acclaimed book  “Samudramanthanam” .  According to Mr Ashish  “Samudramanthanam is less explained and explored till date. I have tried to give broad way of this one of the most important chapter of Hindu mythology. I have read many scriptures and take references from many temples and folk stories, to present the all possible aspects of portrait of Samudramanthanam.”  Now our distinguished readers will be able to read this series on every Saturday.)    

Amazon Link – Samudramanthanam 

☆ Weekly Column – Samudramanthanam – 17 – Uchchaihshravas ☆ 

Suras were doing churning of ‘Kshirasāgara’ without interest because it was already told by Lord Vishnu that next gem whatever it will be must be go to king of Asura ‘Bali’.

Indira in his mind thinking what will be the next outcome of our churning? What will happen when it appears something most powerful than we Suras possess? Then Asura will definitely defeat Sura.  No, I must have faith on Lord Vishnu.

At the other hand Bali is thinking, “What will be our first gem as a churning of ocean? Will it be useful or useless? Whatever be the outcome I’ll accept it as the will of Shri Narayana.”

Then sound of neigh started coming from the ocean. All were stunned there because that sound was looking very impressive and good to all ears, very different from normal horse sound.

All eyes were stop blinking they saw a most beautiful horse anyone ever saw coming out from ocean. Colour of that horse was snow white. No one can remove their eyes from that horse. That horse contains seven heads all of seven different colours similar to colours of rainbow. So that horse has seven different colour heads but snow-white body.

That horse was literally flying from ocean surface towards king of Asura ‘Bali’ from his white colour wings.

Horse stop just in front of ‘Bali’ and said, “O! Bali, the king of Asura I am ‘Uchchaishravas’ meaning “long-ears” or “neighing aloud”, from now onwards you are my master and I am your servant. I will follow your command in each case. Whenever I am with you no one can defeat you. I can fly in seven realms and five elements; no weapon can harm me. I am very happy that I have got chance to server brave and honest king like you”

King of Asura said, “Thank you best among the horses. Don’t think me like your master rather I am your friend and it is promise of Bali that I’ll treat you always be my friend till my last breath”

All there were happy except ‘Indira’. he was thinking that this is not right the best product of churning of ocean is given to ‘Bali’ this great horse deserve master like ‘Indira’.

Without second though ‘Indira’ throw ‘Indrajaal’, net of Indira or bound of ‘Indira’ to arrest ‘Uchchaishravas’ but Bali come in between Indrajaal and ‘Uchchaishravas’ and arrest in that.

Brahma said to Indira, “Indira what are you doing, Asura accepting all their faith and not done anything bad, even till now they didn’t get any gem of churning and you?”

Sage kashyapa said, ”Indira your name is perfectly suited to you. Desires of your ‘indriayas’ senses never fulfill. This is our order release the ‘Bali’ right now”

Meanwhile all the Asura who were participating in this churning of ‘Kshirasāgara’ got angry from this action of king of Sura and all together run fast towards Sura to do fight and release their king ‘Bali’.

But meanwhile ‘Uchchaishravas’ reaches where Indira has arrested ‘Bali’ in Indrajaal and within no time he cut all the bound of him from his teeth. Then he said to Bali, “My master is you alright? “

Bali reply, “Yes my dear friend”

Then ‘Uchchaishravas’ said, “I will kill ‘Indira’ right now”

Bali said, “No my dear friend. I know the role of ‘Indira’ to run affairs of universe so we can’t kill him”

Both teams were sitting apart and not doing anything. Churning of ‘Kshirasāgara’ is not taking place.

Lord Vishnu appears and said,” Indira you forgot what promise we have done with king of Asura Bali. You are least reliable demigod of universe. Bali just forget about ‘Indira’ fault and be remember that this churning will be beneficial for both of Sura and Asura. So, both teams go and start churning again. And Indira this is our last warning to you. And for ‘Uchchaishravas’, from today onwards Indira and his weapon can’t harm you and also in general rain will never harm to any horse”

After this Lord Vishnu disappear and churning stated again.

 

© Ashish Kumar

New Delhi

≈ Blog Editor – Shri Hemant Bawankar/Editor (English) – Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM ≈




English Literature – Short Story ☆ Fire ☆ Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM

Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM

(Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi—an ex Naval Officer, possesses a multifaceted personality. Presently, he is serving as Senior Advisor in prestigious Supercomputer organisation C-DAC, Pune. An alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad is involved in various Artificial Intelligence and High-Performance Computing projects of national and international repute. He has got a long experience in the field of ‘Natural Language Processing’, especially, in the domain of Machine Translation. He has taken the mantle of translating the timeless beauties of Indian literature upon himself so that it reaches across the globe. He has also undertaken translation work for Shri Narendra Modi, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, which was highly appreciated by him. He is also a member of ‘Bombay Film Writer Association’.)

We present an English Version of Shri Sanjay Bhardwaj’s Hindi Short Story  “आग ” . We extend our heartiest thanks to the learned author  Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi Ji (who is very well conversant with Hindi, Sanskrit,  English and Urdu languages) for this beautiful translation and his artwork.)

पुनर्पाठ…✍️

लघुकथा –आग  ☆

 दोनों कबीले के लोगों ने शिकार पर अधिकार को लेकर एक-दूसरे पर धुआँधार पत्थर बरसाए। बरसते पत्थरों में कुछ आपस में टकराए। चिंगारी चमकी। सारे लोग डरकर भागे।

 बस एक आदमी खड़ा रहा। हिम्मत करके उसने फिर एक पत्थर दूसरे पर दे मारा। फिर चिंगारी चमकी। अब तो जुनून सवार हो गया उसपर। वह अलग-अलग पत्थरों से खेलने लगा। 

 वह पहला आदमी था जिसने आग बोई, आग की खेती की। आग को जलाया, आग पर पकाया। एक रोज आग में ही जल मरा।

 लेकिन वही पहला आदमी था जिसने दुनिया को आग से मिलाया, आँच और आग का अंतर समझाया। आग पर और आग में सेंकने की संभावनाएँ दर्शाईं। उसने अपनी ज़िंदगी आग के हवाले कर दी ताकि आदमी जान सके कि लाशें फूँकी भी जा सकती हैं।

 वह पहला आदमी था जिसने साबित किया कि भीतर आग हो तो बाहर रोशन किया जा सकता है।

Fire …. ✍️ 

For the rights of hunting, the people of both the tribes were always indulging in throwing stones at each other, relentlessly. Some stones used to  collide with each other, leaving lightning like sparks, scaring people to run away in fear.

However, just one man always stood his ground, undeterred. Instinctively, gathering his guts,  he threw a stone aiming at the other one, with all his might.  Lo and behold, there emerged a bigger spark, lighting up the sky.  Now, he became obsessed with it.  He continued playing with different stones,  experimenting extensively, mastering the skill of lighting the fire…!

He was the first man who sowed fire, cultivated fire, reaped fire…  He was the pioneer who ignited the fire, cooked on fire; and, eventually one day, he died in fire…

But, in the annals of history  of mankind, he became immortal as he was the first man who introduced the fire to the world. He explained the difference between flaming-heat and the fire.  He demonstrated the possibility of baking _’on fire’ and ‘in fire’.  He consigned his life to the fire so that the mankind could learn that the dead bodies could also be cremated by fire.

He was the first man who proved that if there is a fire inside, then outside world could also be illumined.

 

© Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM

Pune

≈  Blog Editor – Shri Hemant Bawankar/Editor (English) – Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM ≈




English Literature ☆ Stories ☆ Weekly Column – Samudramanthanam -3 Manifestation of Goddess ☆ Mr. Ashish Kumar

Mr Ashish Kumar

(It is difficult to comment about young author Mr Ashish Kumar and his mythological/spiritual writing.  He has well researched Hindu Philosophy, Science and quest of success beyond the material realms. I am really mesmerized.  I am sure you will be also amazed.  We are pleased to begin a series on excerpts from his well acclaimed book  “Samudramanthanam” .  According to Mr Ashish  “Samudramanthanam is less explained and explored till date. I have tried to give broad way of this one of the most important chapter of Hindu mythology. I have read many scriptures and take references from many temples and folk stories, to present the all possible aspects of portrait of Samudramanthanam.”  Now our distinguished readers will be able to read this series on every Saturday.)    

Amazon Link – Samudramanthanam 

 ☆ Weekly Column – Samudramanthanam -3  Manifestation of Goddess ☆ 

After creation was completed sage Bhrigu and his wife Khyati went to meet the Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu was sitting on Sheshnaga and Goddess Lakshmi was sitting beside him.

Sage Bhrigu and his wife Khyati do Namste, salute to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi  and then Bhrigu said, “O! all preservation, the core essence of you and mother Lakshmi  is already manifested in different creatures of nature, but now it is our hearty wish that Goddess Lakshmi will take her incarnation in our home, to remove obstacles of  earthly creature.

Lord Vishnu smiles and said, “Bhrigu you are above me, and my duty is to help great sages to sustain and run universe as per decided cycles and if you wish to be then Goddess Lakshmi will definitely take incarnation from the womb of your wife ‘Khyati’.

Almost one year later, on the night of Sharad Purnima in the hut of sage Bhrigu smell of millions of roses arise and moon was showering his radiant white light over that place. All the beautiful and symmetrical aspects of universe are surrounding the Bhrigu hut. Around 12:00 a.m. Khyati has given birth to a girl child. That child was such a beautiful that all world come to see her in bhrigu home. Gajraj, king of elephants came with his companions and do showering of Khsirshagar milk of that born girl who was actually the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. The little girl was born with the cushion of lotus flowers. All the good sign of fortunate start happening around that place. Many types of treasures start flowing over there.

Sage Bhrigu and his wife Khyati were amaze from all these and both do the salute to new born child girl Goddess Lakshmi.

Sage Kashyapa has many wives name of few are Aditi, Diti, Kalika, Tamra, Krodhavasa, Anala, Arista, Khasa, Surabhi, Ira, Sursa etc.

Aditi has given birth to 12 Adityas, 8 Vasus and 11 Rudras. These all assign as demigods of nature and natural cycles as well as cosmos cycles of lower level. The twelve Adityas are Data, Aryaman, Mitra, Sakra, Varuna, Amsa, Bhaga, Vivasvan, Pusa, Savita, Tvasta and Vishnu (incarnation of maha Vishnu, one of the trimurti of hindus), 8 Vasus are Dhara, Dhruva, Soma, Ahas, Anila, Prabhasa and Anala, 11 Rudras, the incarnations of Lord Shiva are Ajaikapat, Ahirbudhnya, Virupaksa, Suresvara, Jayanta, Bahurupa, Aparajita, Savitra, Tryambaka, Vaivasvata and Hara.

Diti has given birth to many Daityas, few of which are Surapadma, Simhavaktra, Vajranga, Gomukha, Hiranyaksa, Hiranyakasipu, Simhika and Ajamukhi.

Kashyapa wife Krodhavasa has given birth to many different creatures of earths including, Mruga who was first creature of animals, Mrgamanda who given birth to Rksa, Srmara and Camara.

Krodhavasa also given birth to Hari from which lineage of Lions and Monkeys stated.

Bhadramata given birth to Iravati the mother of elephant Eiravata.

Other elephants were born from Matangi.

Krodhavasa also given birth to Saduli from which Tigers and leopards generated.

She also given birth to Sveta who given birth to eight elephants who hold the globe of earth from eight directions.

Surabhi given birth to Rohini mother of all cattle and Gandhavri, mother of all horses.

Surasa given birth to Nagas (Serpents)

Kadru given birth to all reptiles.

Sage Kasyapa other wife Tamra given birth to some other children, Kraunci responsible for owl family birth,

Bhasi for Bhasas, Syeni for Hawks and eagles, Dhrtarastri for Swans and ruddy geese

Suki given birth to Nata,

Vinata given birth to Aruna and Garuda.

So, platform was ready. Almost all creature has been created and role of Brahma in first cycle of life about to end and now task of Vishnu is ready.

Brahma married his daughter Shachi, to Indra and made Indra as kind of heaven and all Devtas. In fact, he was not deserving contender for king and inferior from Varuna in all counts. But it was done and now Varuna was very upset and decided to be spy of Asura or Danava whose location was fixed to under earth. Asura were also not happy with this arrangement.

Cycle of time is passing like always.

© Ashish Kumar

New Delhi