Friday, February 15, 2008

A small story...

He was half-awake, still on the bed, when Mr. Reddy called. "Please can you be at Indian coffee house at 8:30 morning", he could hear Reddy say. "Ok," he said and cut the phone. But he was in no mood to get up, he generally liked to lie in bed early in the morning, listening to the birds and thinking about his girl friends, atleast those who he thought of as girlfriends. He didn't want to spoil his sleep for some Reddy, and he got some satisfaction in making Reddy wait for spoiling his dreams.

He was wondering how people could be so selfish, seven in morning was not the time to bug people, especially when you did not know them and further still when you had to get some work out of them. But he did not say anything on phone, because Mr. Reddy was after all niranjan's father. He had worked with Niranjan on one project during college time and they had had a good time.

He delayed as much as he could getting up from bed, but then finally woke up and got ready to meet Reddy. Early morning MG road is deserted, and he quite liked to drive on empty roads, even parking is so easily available, and standing outside the coffee house was this middle age man, a typical shop-keeper-uncle type, with a big tummy, and sure enough he was Mr. Reddy.

"Mahesh"
he nodded,
"I waiting, 7:30 AM"? Mr. Reddy added,

"But I said 8:30 uncle", he blurted in a louder voice, He was in no mood to be guilt-tripped by some Reddy who was standing for one hour on a relatively cold Bangalore morning.

"Language problem, you fast English, less understand" he said

They went inside.

"15 minutes only, then you go office", Mr Reddy said

He was relieved, he had a important review meeting in office at 10 and he did not wanna get late for that. Not much that it mattered, but he still wanted to use this as an excuse to escape from him, and return to comfortable work desk with google talk and orkut.

"Lawyer from Guntur, you witness, give same, what you give in court, copy is there" Mr. Reddy said and handed him the copy.

He looked at the copy, and memories flooded of that afternoon in court, all those cross examination questions, "Did you see the truck coming", "Was it a cold night", "Was it a foggy night", all those things which he hardly remembered. He was actually sleeping when it happened, and he did not even realize it until much later, when he had woken up to lots of commotion, people shouting, in languages he did not understand, and he was sandwiched between two seats. He did not remember exactly when the realization had hit him that it was an accident. He only remembered wriggling out through the window, someone helping him out, and for some strange reason he was the only one out there wearing shoes, every one else in their bus was barefoot. His next memory was taking one of his colleagues to the closest hospital, in a police jeep. He was in a kind of semi conscious state in disbelief, probably in shock, but somehow the hospital, and then police station and everywhere else, seemed to be a dream. Only when he was at police station someone said Niranjan had died on spot.

Niranjan was his classmate and after that they had landed up in a job in the same company. Niranjan had planned the whole trip. He did not even remember the last thing Niranjan had said or his last expression. probably at the tea shop on the highway, after which Niranjan had choose to sit on the first seat and he for some reason was sitting on the third.

He did not even see Niranjan's body, he did not have the courage to see it. Days later he was still looking at the empty cube and half expecting Niranjan to appear suddenly. They said he had died on impact.

Then he remembered the court case, he had already given witness once. That was for Shivkumar. Shivkumar was sitting next to Niranjan and had met the same fate. He had not given entirely correct witness then either, he had said that he was awake when it happened. He had said that it was not a foggy night, though he did not remember anything of that sort, he had also said that the other vehicle was speeding. In reality he had no idea how and what happened, he was sleeping blissfully. But he had done that because he felt sorry for Shivkumar's father. The insurance lawyers were very smart, and probably had he said the truth Shivkumar's father would probably not have got a single rupee, which did not seem right. Poor father, he was old, fighting a lone battle against those tricky viley lawyers. And he had not entirely distorted everything, had he been awake, probably he would have witnessed same thing. Surely Shivkumar's father could not be punished for his sleepiness. He had felt happy then that he could help the distressed father who had grown really old travelling in crowded BMTC buses for three months, trying to get some insurance claim.

But right now sitting in front of Mr. Reddy, he was wondering and questioning to himself if he had to repeat the same things again. Why did these fathers want so much money from insurance? And Mr. Reddy did not look that old - he could surely take care of himself. Why making him do the same things and repeat the same things. But he was afraid that if he altered the statement this time around, it would be difficult reconciling to the court what he had said earlier and what he would say now. He was getting himself in to trouble trying to help people and the questions inside him were becoming more probing.

He had decided within himself that he would try to get things done in the right way especially in government offices. He had done that for his driving license, he had got it without paying a single rupee as bribe because he was adamant that that has to be done this way. Then why not fight insurance lawyers in right way, but then how many things he could possibly take up inlife. And after all Niranjan was his good friend. Further still the the idea scared him that had it not been for two seats, probably his father would have been here with Niranjan. That was scary and disturbing thought.

So he slowly and carefully read his previous witness and kind of memorized it. And then off he went to court to give witness. And it did not take long, but it required patience, same old questions, same cross examinations, same senseless things, like "did you see the other vehicle coming", "how far was it when you spotted it", "what is your religion". He wondered why would religion matter, he had half the mind to say that he was an Indian and he did not believe in religion, but then he did not want to create a scene, and unnecessary complicate matters. It is not a great feeling to see things getting repeated all over again, and then it made me wonder, how difficult it might be for rape victims, every hearing to go over it again and again, and then all of sudden he was feeling happy that he was better off. Comparatively this was nothing.


All was done, and he was free again. Mr Reddy thanked him and said, "I get 80 Lakhs",

80 lakhs!!! his mouth dropped, all of sudden he felt that all his lying was only to satisfy Mr. Reddy's greediness. What was he going to do with so much money, especially after Niranjan was no more. It was little disgusting that all this fight and all this business was just for money. Everyone wanted money, insurance lawyers wanted to save money of insurance, probably because they get commision on what they save, this Mr. Reddy, wanted more money for this son. All of sudden he felt things very oppressive, as he was going down the lift of court building. He was wondering what was he doing here, probably and the realization that he also had the hand in all this shameful business. It was very bad feeling.

And amidst these thoughs when he was stopping an auto to run way from that shameful place, he heard some final good bye from Reddy, and he did not care to return the good bye. He was glad that he was out of all this shit.
But as auto started, he caught this words," Will call, when settlement done, Niranjan, said you work NGOs, with money, want start Niranjan trust which scholarships poor children for them studying "

4 comments:

SsS said...

nice one...do keep writing....

zai said...

Golu bhai,

How does you? you should incorporate a walking-stick using lady into one of your stories.

Reema Banerjee said...

jesus...i have made such ridiculous assumptions myself n felt sick guilty abt them later...some valuable lessons there goli! keep shooting.

Karthik said...

Hi... First time here...accidently hit upon this piece…
Neat piece of writing, very intriguing…
esp loved this sentence "Why did these fathers want so much money from insurance? And Mr. Reddy did not look that old - he could surely take care of himself." - the expression is so natural and well fed in...