Nothing Official As Such
By Hiranya Borah
Copyright 2017 Hiranya Borah
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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I have written this book after I am getting lot of inspiration from the number of field visits across the country under taken by me in the last one year as a part of my official duties. However, the book as named, is nothing to do with my official duties.
2nd October, 2019 is the target date for making India open defecation free (ODF). All the stakeholders are taking all necessary steps to achieve this particular goal without any dilution.
I also whole heartedly involved myself in this noble cause and as a part of my duties, I have to go to different places to know about the ground reality of the progress in the direction of declaring entire country ODF by October, 2019. Without saying, it might be the greatest success story of modern India.
First part of the book contains few poems related to environment, cleanliness and problems faced by the ladies due to lack of proper toilet facilities.
However, always there is a funny side of any serious story. Here I want to tell you some of imaginary funny stories, not necessarily related with the implementation of the present scheme. The characters described in the stories are fictitious and are not real. If any resemblance of any character is observed, it is mere coincidence only.
The last story, elephant power is based on a news item published few years back where a herd of elephants saved the lives of many persons in a similar circumstances in Assam as I described in this book. Some portions of the story is based on my childhood memories of riding on elephants without saddle and offering of rice and paddy to the visiting elephants to my parental home. I try to project the news item to a true love story between a person and female jumbo. Hope my readers will like the love story between a man and an animal.
I hope readers will also like my poems and stories associated with cleanliness. The contents of the book may be taken in the right prospective. Readers are requested not to take the book a satirical one.
Thanks to my readers and friends and above all my family for their constant support to write something usual and unusual. I love them all.
Thanks to Shakespir for publishing this story book along with my other books.
Water, water, water is everywhere;
Not a single drop to drink.
Stuck in the midst of a sea,
The Great Emperor thundered;
In disgust; two centuries ago.
His distracters were happy;
His followers shed tears.
I was terrified to visualize;
The thirsty faces of the lower ranked soldiers.
They were ready to offer their blood and sweat;
To quench the thirst of the masters!
I saw the fear of death, a slow but sure death,
In the eyes of low ranked soldiers.
Middle level officers were on the next line;
To prove their loyalty.
Nemesis claims, many were thrown;
To the unending wavy salt water;
Many were killed.
His worshippers never believed;
The claim made by his Nemesis.
After two hundred odd years;
A small nut like me;
Cried for a glass of water to drink;
In the ocean of muddy water;
Black water, grey water and so on.
None is ready to shed blood and sweat for me;
To quench my thirst.
I am looking at my son;
I am looking at my daughter;
They are carrying canister of black water;
They have to quench their thirst with black water;
By filtering them;
That is the only way to survive.
I am looking at few generations down the line,
None is appeared to be alive;
All are lying like lifeless animals;
Not a single drop of water to drink.
None is there to hear me;
None is there to criticise me,
None is there to disregard me,
None is there to praise me.
All are appeared to be dead;
Not a single drop of water to drink.
Muddy Water: I am the Ruler of my Destiny
Water with mud is coming out;
From each and every tap;
All I could survey.
All trees have been fallen;
To the axe of the ruler.
Ruler is not independent;
He has an old father.
He used to like flowers;
One day he plucked all the flowers for his flower show.
All his followers praised the ruler;
For the beauty and fragrance of the flowers.
For the assassinated flowers;
The trees cried silently.
The tears of the trees;
Flowed from hills to the plains;
Created havoc for the subjects living on the foothills.
Years entered into the history books;
None realized ‘history repeats itself’.
King can do no mistake;
The old proverb says.
The young king imported;
Sharper but sturdy axes;
To cut the hapless trees;
Of the Hills; of the plains.
He ordered for obstructions;
For the river; for the rivulets;
To construct our houses and our hotels.
Mud is running down;
Breaking all our houses and hotels.
Young Ruler blames cutting of trees;
Obstructions of the rivers!
Old ruler blames his father for cutting the trees!
No one wants to take the blame,
Each one blames others.
Do you know, who is the ruler?
I am the ruler,
You are the ruler.
We all are the rulers of our fateful destinies.
We have destructed the forests;
Obstructed the rivers and rivulets.
Now everywhere, every corner,
We see the streams of muddy water;
Up to the knee heights.
Water bottles were supplied to the marooned people;
To strengthen the hands of the ruler;
To order more destruction of the forests,
To make more obstructions for the river and rivulets;
By constructing buildings and resorts.
Now you know the ruler;
I am the ruler of my destiny.
You are the ruler of your destiny.
We all are rulers of our destinies.
We may pray in unison at least for once,
God save us;
From the catastrophe we are sitting on;
Oblivious of our own deeds of destructions!!
My Lover Whom I Could Not Make My Wife
She is twenty-four.
Her eyes are as beautiful as lotus-bud!
Her hairs are curvy black like clouds of Monsoon!
Her lips are as red as seeds of pomegranate!
Her face resemblances with the full moon!
All are nonsense!
These are the descriptions of a beauty;
Described by a poet of few generations ago.
Those beauties are the products of imagination of a poet;
Who might be relieving himself at a bank of a river;
Looking at the sky.
He never thought;
Those beauties are also human being.
They also have to attend for the nature’s call;
They also need privacy for that!
They were made Goddess of love;
None thought for their privacy.
The society imposed a veil to cover her face;
But the same society never thought;
For relieving one has to expose everything;
Because they are also human being!
At the age of twenty-five,
I fell in love with a girl of twenty-four;
Having all the qualities;
The old poet had described many times before.
I became mad for her;
I promised to marry her one day.
I always imagined her beauty;
Beyond the artificial skin of cloths;
Covering all her body!
She also loved me;
Ready to be my partner of life;
She promised to bare everything to me;
Only for me in private.
I imagined her bare body;
Which is not even seen by the sun;
After she attained adulthood.
She might be so pure;
Her every part of the body must be so delicate;
Sunshine can tan her smooth skin.
I want to make her my life partner;
Partner of happiness;
Partner of togetherness.
But alas God has a different idea;
My visit to her home,
Evaporated my love for her;
Hatred for her body and mind;
Engulfed my heart and soul.
All her body had already been exposed;
To the Sun, to the jungle, to the bushes.
I imagined, how some youths of her village,
Might have peeped through the bushes,
To see her bare body;
That she promised to bare before me;
Only before me;
Only after our marriage.
I am not the poet,
Who thought his lover is a Goddess;
Free from human needs
And free from attending call of nature.
The Goddess of the poet does not need privacy,
She is above the domain of lesser mortal.
My lover was a human being,
She needed privacy;
Which was never provided by her parents.
Let her stay with her unconcerned parent,
I thought for a while and left her forever!!!!!
Beauty from Inside
My poet friend told;
Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder!
My priest told me;
God loves the clean;
Clean from inside;
Not from outside.
I am confused;
Who is beautiful and clean?
I am yet to meet the God;
Will He like to meet me;
In dirty cloths;
With a body not cleaned for months together?
Will a damsel like to see me;
In torn dirty cloths;
Hands not washed for months together?
For a poet,
For a romantic man,
In his imagination,
The answer may be yes.
He will argue,
Love is blind, it can go beyond your outward look.
In a romantic novel,
I found a girl went on to marry a pauper;
Kicking the proposal of a billionaire;
For the sake of love.
I found N number of girls;
In my vicinity,
Who are ready to kick their lovers;
For marrying millionaire!
In a romantic classic;
A frog became a prince;
Getting a kiss from a beauty.
I saw many girls screaming;
At the very sight of a frog;
Leaping towards them!
I read beauty and the beast;
Their immortal love story;
Saw nothing similar in my neighborhood.
For the unreal world,
Beauty from inside is worshipped.
In the real world;
One cannot peep into the inside of a person;
Unless God is more than kind enough;
To you and your vision.
I am not blessed;
I judge a person from his cleanliness from outside;
I expect same from you;
As an ordinary person.
I maintain total hygiene;
Why I Am Killed
My dead body is lying in the field,
Body is still half naked.
My family is looking for me;
They will cry, they will weep;
Discovering my half naked body.
Who killed me?
That is not important for me.
Why I was killed?
That is important;
Not only for me;
But for them also who are going to be killed;
In the coming days.
Whom to blame;
For my untimely death?
Law will take its own course;
Killers may be caught;
They may be tried;
They may be hanged.
Another young lady will be killed;
Killers may be caught again;
They may be tried again;
They may be hanged again.
Killing of young lady will continue;
After a gang rape.
Trial will continue…..
None is interested to know:
Why I am killed?
Only I know why I am killed;
I had to go for attending a nature’s call;
At the midst of the night;
Some roaming animals saw me in the darkness.
They dragged me to the field;
Gang raped and killed me.
I would not have died;
Had my parents constructed a loo;
Inside our premises.
Money was not the problem;
Will to construct a loo was the problem;
For my parent and for the parents;
Whose daughters are lined up;
For gang rape and to be killed;
By the animals, disguised as human being!
Chapter I: Excursion
Every educated person of our time is having the experience of excursions during their school or college days due to having less number of family outings during those days. In fact, in those days going out of home means going to a relative’s home or to a friend’s home. Excursions from school or college was the only means to travel outside the domain of relatives’ home by the students from middle and lower middle class families.
After Class IX examination, we have arranged an excursion to visit some historical places of Sibsagar district, Assam.
Gargaon, the capital town of Ahom Kingdom, who ruled Assam continuously for six hundred years (1228-1826) is a part of Sibsagar (Sagar means sea in Assamese language) district. The name, Sibsagar was derived from a huge man made water tank measuring more than one square mile, constructed during the time of Ahom ruler, Siba Singha. The whole town is situated at the bank of this magnificent tank. Sibsagar district boasts of another two huge tanks, constructed under different rulers, namely, Jay-Sagar (In the name of Jaymati, mother queen of the most famous Ahom King, Rudra Singha.) and Gauri Sagar (constructed during the regime of Gauri Singha).
The story of Jaymati is extremely revered for every Assamese. The story of Jaymati goes like this.
Jaymati, a princess of the ruling clan of Assam, was tortured to death at the behest of Lora Raja who was after her Husband, Gadapani in the later part of seventeenth century. She was tortured to know the where-about of her husband, who was absconding to avoid ‘Angakhat’, man with amputated organ. As per Ahom tradition a person cannot be a king if he is short of any organ. The then immature King, Lora Raja and his mentor Laluksola Barphukan captured all the eligible and prospective princes for the throne and amputated at least one organ to make them in-eligible to become king. Gadapani was the most powerful prince of that time and liked by most of the generals under Ahom King. Therefore, Lora Raja was wary of this powerful prince and ordered his arrest to make him amputated. However, he got the news before his arrest and left home and went to Nagahills for hiding. Not finding him, the king ordered the arrest of his wife, Jaymati and asked where about of her husband. When she refused to tell where about of her husband she was ordered physical punishment in a public place. She was tied to a thorny tree and was beaten by Choudungs (official employed for punishment) using hunters. After facing inhumane torture for 64 days, she had succumbed to her injuries inflicted on her body. Her death made an uprising by the Generals of Ahom Kingdom which culminated in dethroning of Lora Raja and in coronation of Gadapani as Gadadhar Singha, new King of Ahom Kingdom. Gadhadhar Singha was succeeded by his eldest son, Rudra Singha, the most powerful King of Ahom Kingdom. He had ruled Assam for almost three decades and during his time the Jaysagar tank was constructed in memory of his famous mother.
To see these historical monuments, we were very excited and contacted few schools located at Sibsagar for free accommodation. However, only one semi Government school agreed to open one class room for our accommodation for three days.
From our village, Sibsagar was hardly 200 Kms but as that time, there was no bridge over mighty Brahmaputra, it took almost one full day to reach Sibsagar after taking the first bus at 6-30 AM from our village. We had to travel by motor launch for two hours to cross Brahmaputra and to take another bus from, Silghat the other bank of the river. Finally, when we reached Sibsagar, it was half past seven in the evening.
The night watchman opened one room for us. When we asked for the location of the bathroom, he showed his 32 teeth and told, ‘What bath room? There is no bathroom or toilet in the school. In the morning, you have to go to the other side of the railway line for your morning duty.’
For the first time, in the next morning we walked more than a KM, to defecate outside in open. I should not be hypocrite by telling that ‘we did not enjoy the OD’ at that time. Going in a group of twenty boys, all below fourteen was itself a unique experience. During the actual action, we talked to each other. That is the reason, I can understand the psyche of good number of Biharis and UPwallas who like to go for OD despite of their good economic condition. After those three OD morning, we went to Dibrugarh.
We did not get the opportunity go to rail line again for OD at Dibrugarh or elsewhere also till date; but for the next few years, OD at Sibsagar became a hot topic for our discussion. Now also we utter, ‘Oh shit’, whenever we meet all those friends who went to Sibsagar for our excursion!
Chapter II: How Fear of Ghost Played a Role
Our home at our village was situated near a football field. The other side of the football field was used as an open defecation ground by some ex-tea garden labourers and few villagers from our own village. The football field was shrinking day by day because of open defecation. There was some reports of skirmishes also among two groups on that issue.
In one of my visit to my village from my college, one of my friends told me the problem and he felt that unless some drastic steps are taken, whole football field would be open defecation ground within a year or two.
‘Let us see what I can do?’ I told my friend. In the next two days, I gathered that most of defecation took place after dusk and before midnight. I knew most of those people were afraid of ghosts. Therefore, at first through some of my friends, I generated a rumour that last few days, some of us saw a ghost roaming around the football field. Initially, only few of the labourers believed. However, fear gripped into the minds of more of them on every passing day. Finally, after a week both of us decided to go for the kill.
My height is at least six inches more than the average Indian height and my friend’s height was just few inches less than my height. In fact, I was the tallest boy of my village and ninety percent villagers were shorter than my friend. To make my height more than usual height, I wore a paper cap of at least one foot after fall of evening on the planned day. Similar cap was worn by my friend also. After dusk, we climbed to a nearby tree and wait for someone to come to the ground for defecation.
We did not come down till one of the labourers started his action. When he was middle of his action, we appeared before him. As he saw us, with a scream, he tried to run away but we forced him to sit on his own shit without uttering a single word. The poor fellow fell unconscious.
We left the place immediately without making any sound. Within few minutes, there was a huge commotion in the ground. All the labourers and villagers came to the field to find out what happened and found the labourer unconscious.
Luckily for us, the labourer got his consciousness within few minutes.
After three months when I visited my village, my friend told me that the football field became free of Open Defecation due to fear of ghost. A few years back I came to know that the football field became a sports ground of a local high school.
Whenever, I remember about my role as a tree climbing ghost, I use to utter, ‘Oh, shit’.
Chapter III: Breaking of a Marriage
Believe it or not, one of my known senior citizen remain unmarried because of ‘Oh shit’ factor.
That gentleman had a steady relation with a young lady for a year or two. They decided to tie the nuptial knot with the permission of their parents.
One day, my senior decided to take his girlfriend to a talkie. When he went to pick up the lady, she was not home at that time. He met her younger brother and asked him where his sister had gone.
He answered, ‘Sister has gone to the backside of their kitchen garden (in Assam kitchen gardens are very big, sometimes it is spread over more than two-three acre) to defecate.’
The raw answer given by her brother directly hit the heart of my senior friend. He left their home immediately and thought, ‘Whom I thought a fairy of my life, directly coming from a dreamland; goes for open defecation! That is too much!’
Despite of repeated requests from all concerned to marry the girl, he decided to remain a bachelor for the rest of his life.
I do not know whether he uttered ‘Oh shit’ before taking the decision; but I know he did not marry anyone in his life.
Chapter IV: Propagate for ODF but Forced to Defecate in Open
Recently, I visited one state where, all the officers are sincerely involved in Swachh Bharat Mission whole heartedly. While appreciating their efforts, I am narrating a story that came to my knowledge on the side-lines of our meeting with the state government officers of that state.
They showed me a video where it was shown a team led by a very senior officer of the state visited seven remote villages of the state in seven days on foot to propagate use of sanitary toilets as a part of Swachh Bharat Mission to eradicate habit of open defecation. These villages were connected only by narrow lanes and any person who is visiting those villages has to carry all his belongings including necessary food, drinks and beddings by himself or by porters.
After enjoying the beautiful short film, I asked one the officers who accompanied the senior officer to those villages, ‘How did you respond to the call of nature?’
‘Ha ha, in the open sir. Unfortunately, I suffered loose motion during the journey. I am still keeping half of the handkerchief as souvenir of the visit and the troubles we faced during the visit.’
I again got a chance to utter the same, ‘Oh Shit’.
Chapter V: Construction of Pits
Exceptions cannot be an example. But exceptions are sometimes funny and outrageous. From the concerned authority, specific instructions are issued on specifications of pits for toilet, septic tank for toilet, provision of safe disposal of excreta etc. on time to time.
But being a representative of very large country, we sometimes used to do some mental exercise. From these outrageous exercise of our brain, we sometimes decide to do something which may not be prudent and sometimes laughable.
The double pits toilet (recommended one) for safe toilets, pits should be around four feet deep. But some of the over-enthusiastic persons use to make pits deeper than this with the original thought, ‘bigger is always better’. This habit of few persons reminded me of another story.
At that time, I was very young and performing the duty of Head of the Office of a particular office. One of the officers working under me was constructing a building after taking Government loan, popularly known as HBA (house building advance). Before releasing the final instalment of the loan amount, I had to visit the building site as per the official rules.
When I saw a large pond near to the building site, I asked the officer what it was. He said with a grin, ‘Sir it is the tank for our sanitary latrine. The mason suggested to construct a big tank so that it need not have to be cleaned for hundred years. I also thought cleaning of tank is a big problem and therefore I took his advice. Is it alright sir?’
I only exclaimed, ‘Oh, shit’.
Chapter VI: You May Be a VIP, But Still a Human Being Only
It is a VVIP story. He is a great leader and has high degree of security cover to move around.
A few years back, he was out of power for a limited period of time. During that period to hog limelight, he sat on a hunger strike near a Government building which is located at a high security zone of the city.
You can live without food, but you cannot avoid call of nature. When he got the call of nature, his deputies requested the officer in charge of the Government building to allow their leader to use the toilet in the early morning.
Though it was not permissible, considering his status, the officer allowed the VVIP to come inside the building through the back door. He instructed one orderly to take the VVIP to the third floor so that none would know about use of official facility while on a hunger strike against the Government.
After half an hour, the relieved VVIP left the building with a visible sign of satisfaction.
However, the orderly rushed to his boss after half an hour to tell, ‘Sir, I am extremely sorry to tell you that for the last three days there was no water supply on the third floor.’
After admonishing his subordinate, when the officer visited the third floor he discovered a used sock, soaked with shit, probably used by the unfortunate (for that time only) VVIP.
The officer was left with no alternative but to utter to himself, ‘Oh shit’.
NB: The incident happened much before launch of SBM scheme throughout the country.
Chapter VII: An Award by the Airport
I had a dream from my childhood to find a bag of currencies on the road to make me rich. But in the last fifty years nothing had happened like that.
It is not that I am not hard working; but any extra amount is always welcome to meet my never-ending demands from my family and friends during the first part of the millennium. Being not corrupt also enhanced my desire to get a bag full of currency during that particular period. However, for the last few years after attaining solvency due to different reasons, desire for a bag full of currency reduced considerably.
Finally, God fulfilled my dream on 13th of January, 2017.
I was on a tour to inspect progress of a SBM scheme in a state. As expected, a young officer along with a driver and a consultant of the scheme came to the airport to receive me. They welcomed inside the airport and asked for my boarding pass to collect my baggage. I told him that I had only one bag and my name was clearly written on the bag and could be seen from a reasonable distance. The driver took my hand bag and I was led to his car.
I had a hectic schedule of field visits. First, I was taken to a restaurant for breakfast and from there, I was taken to another district HQs where some other officials were waiting for me. Inside the car itself, the young officer gave a detail report of progress of the scheme in the different districts.
After meeting the officers at district HQs, we proceeded to the villages where the scheme was in operation. I was really pleased to see the progress of the scheme in the villages I was visiting. I did not know when dusk descended. When I reached the hotel situated in the district HQs, it was already 9 PM. Hurriedly, I finished my dinner and went to my room for the night.
To my surprise, I saw three bags were stacked at my room instead of two bags which I carried along with me from Delhi, my place of posting. When I noticed the bag, which was not mine, I saw a small tag attached to the lace of the bag. It was written, ‘A small gift from an unknown friend.’
As I opened the zip of the bag, I was about to faint. It was full of currency of demonetized 1000 rupee notes (The Government of India/ Reserve Bank of India had demonetized 500 and 1000 note from 8th of November, 2016. Government had allowed to deposit the notes at the respective accounts by 31.12.2016. Further, the Government issued an order, if anybody is holding demonetized notes beyond 31.12.2016, he/she would be prosecuted). Is it a dirty joke or to trap me, it is a ploy?
I was in a fix, what to do with this full bag of demonetized currency. With a peep, I could estimate, it would not be less than Rs. 1 Crore. Government had already announced, anybody found with demonetized note would be arrested. I started sweating despite of freezing cold of January.
First, I thought to inform police. But I did not know how they would react. I might be arrested first and then they might start conducting an inquiry. If it would be like that, my reputation would be tarnished beyond repair.
Should I throw it from my room?
I recalled one incident few years back, in the hostel where I used to stay before I was allotted the large flat. An illegitimate baby was thrown to a dustbin and the culprit was caught by the police afterwards on the basis of few eyewitness.
I thought. ‘I am sure someone will see me throwing the bag and then I shall definitely be handed over to the police.’ Therefore, I dropped the idea of throwing the bag from my window.
Should I telephone to my wife to discuss the matter? I decided not to do that because she might be giving me a weird advice which would definitely land me in a jail.
I was fearing police might be arriving at my hotel at any time as the person who had planted the bag in my room, might have informed the police also by the time.
But, nothing happened like that on that night. However, whole night I was waiting something to happen looking at the bag. I could not sleep even for a minute during the whole night.
Finally, I came to a decision, I would leave the bag in the almirah of the hotel without telling anyone.
I was successful in leaving the bag at the hotel and proceeded to the next district to make few more field visits on my way to airport. As soon as I reached the border of the next district, another group of officers escorted me to the field. I heaved a sigh of relief.
For the next six hours, I could concentrate in my inspection in the field.
My flight was at 6 PM to leave the state and therefore, I told my escort officer to drop me at the airport by 4 PM.
Around 3 PM escort officer told me that my flight was late by an hour and accordingly he requested me to take a cup of tea at a restaurant comfortably with his field officials before dropping me at the airport. I agreed to his proposal.
As we were taking tea, I saw the officer who had received me at the airport came into the restaurant and told me, ‘Sir, I am extremely sorry, my driver did not put one of your bags into the car. A few hours ago, hotel management told me over telephone about it and we rushed to the hotel and collect the bag. Now I put it in your car.’
The escort officer thought my bag was left by the driver who was supposed to keep my belongings inside his car. I was not in a position to tell him the real story. Instead I said, ‘Oh, thank you. I was not bothering anything about my belongings etc. once I arrived at your place since yesterday. By not bothering about my luggage actually giving you lot trouble. I am sorry for that.’
‘No no sir, you have not given me any trouble. It is my duty and pleasure to serve you sir.’ He said with another apology. Then he left the place putting me in real trouble once again without knowing anything about my trouble which I was facing for the last twenty hours. I started sweating again.
The officers escorted to me to the VIP room of the airport. My mind was engulfed with many thoughts. But all the thoughts were secondary one except one thought, how I could get rid of the bag with full of demonetized currency.
To hide my nervousness, I started reading a newspaper. On seeing me reading the newspaper, the escort officer and his deputy left the room. When they went out of the room, I shook my head vigorously to find out a way out to get rid of the old currencies. Finally, I found a way out. ‘I cannot get rid of the bag as the escort officers are now sure that I am having three bags. But probably I can get rid of the currencies!’
I went to the toilet along with the bag containing the old currency. Closing the toilet door, I put all the currencies in the newspaper and wrapped those as if they were some dirt. Then I looked for a dustbin large enough to accommodate the wrapped packet. The dustbin inside the toilet was too small to accommodate the packet. For the time being, I left the packet inside the toilet and came out with the bag. I put some articles into the bag from the other bag so that both are seemingly full of my belongings. Then I went outside the VIP lounge to find out where I could find a large dustbin which could accommodate my packet.
I did not have to go too far, I found one garbage can near to the VIP lounge. I went back to the toilet and picked up the packet and fortunately I was able to dump it at the garbage dumping can placed just outside the VIP lounge. As I dropped the packet, I saw my escort officer running towards me.
With an apologetic voice the escort officer told me, ‘Why you are taking so much trouble sir? You could have told someone of us to drop the useless articles at the dustbin!’
‘Ok, no problem, it is fine for me.’ With a relaxed voice, I told him. Then I told him, ‘Let me go for the security check; so that, you can also go back to your place.’
After crossing the security check I felt little bit relaxed.
As I was relaxing on a seat, an announcement sent a shock wave throughout my body, ‘Mr. Wangshoo, you please contact General our Manager of the Airport Authority, Mr. Vijay Kumar near the security check counter.’
As I was going to meet Vijay Kumar, many thoughts came to my mind. I was expecting an arrest order or a detention order by him for the packet of demonetized currency which I dropped at the dustbin near to the VIP room.
‘Police may use third degree method to find out my source of income for such a huge amount.’ I was thinking.
As I reached the security check, a tall handsome man asked me, ‘Are you Mr. Wangshoo?’
I could not speak anything to his question and just nodded my head.
He extended his hand for a handshake and told, ‘Congratulation sir. You are the winner of Swachh Bharat Contest for the week of this airport. It is not a big amount sir, it is only a memento and cash award of Rs.500/-. Only.’
‘Thank you. But why I have been selected for this award.’ I asked him with a surprise look.
‘You are the 10000th passenger who has used the dustbin, for which you are given Rs. five hundred. The memento is given, being an executive passenger, sitting in the VIP lounge, used the dustbin by yourself, which is really praiseworthy. This will encourage other passengers also to use dustbin and keep the airport clean.’
Sitting on my seat at the aircraft, I was thanking God for hearing my prayer by awarding me, by not giving a bag of old currency of others, but giving me a memento and a small prize money of Rs.500/-.
I also promised to myself, not to aspire for a single rupee without blood and sweat of my body and mind in rest of my life. Further, I promised to myself to do everything to make our country ODF by October, 2019.
Chapter VIII: Attending A Meeting
Anindita looked at the Chairman, a seventy plus fat man with some difficulty in movement. He would be at least ten to fifteen years older than her father. Then she looked to other members of the committee. All are old. She thought all the ladies probably attained menopause and all the men must have erection problem. On thinking those odd things, a wild smile went off from her lips.
She was sent by her boss to attend this high level meeting. All the male members of the Committee either her father’s age or few years away to the either side of her father’s age. She felt sorry for her thinking about the old guys few minutes ago.
Similarly, ladies are mostly of her mother’s age. She is aware of the fact that her mother attained her menopause few years ago and stopped sleeping with her father. In the last few years she observed that her parent’s fighting has increased manifold. However, they were united when two month’s back, her marriage was solemnized with Ankit against their will. Thankfully, now they have accepted Ankit as their son in law.
She looked again to the members of the Committee, all are looked serious. From their faces it appeared, they had been entrusted a duty through which they would pull out our country from the problem of OD prevailing over many large states. She wondered, whether, these people are really serious or looked serious for the work assigned to them?
Anyway, she had to be remain in the meeting so that after the meeting she could be able to brief her boss about the decisions taken in the meeting.
A middle aged person was looking at the only young lady in the room for some time without any specific reason. Her age might be of his elder daughter’s age. He wondered why she was there. On the next moment, he thought, her boss might have sent her just to inform him/her on her return what were discussed. The girl was cute. She must have a husband or a lover. He is also in search of a qualified beautiful girl for his son. He removed his eyes from her fearing, she might think, why the old hack was looking at her.
He looked all other members. Most of them are of his age. All are looked very serious for a serious discussion. He knew, every member of the Committee would try to showcase his / her knowledge in front of others. Everyone would try to convince others that his/ her point of argument would carry more importance to the cause of the targeted group. But were they serious about solving the real problem?
Once, he asked his very learned boss, an expert of poverty alleviation, ‘Sir if poverty is eradicated from the earth, what will happen to us?’ Actually he wanted to ask, ‘what will happen to you, so called poverty experts?’
The answer of his boss was very candid, ‘Many of us will be unemployed. There will be no lavish dinner at any five star hotel for us. But do not worry, we experts will never allow you to be unemployed or will allow to attain a situations where there will be full stop for lavish dinner in five star hotels or first class air travel for experts. Do you know, poverty alleviation itself generates lot of employment, particularly in hospitality sectors, like hotel and air travel?’
The middle level officer nodded his head and appreciated the candid answer of the learned boss from his heart.
For the last few years, the old fellow was requesting all his juniors who are now holding top level posts to consider his name for the Chairman or a member of any Committee so that he can hold his head high before his nagging wife and his children. Otherwise, his wife and children started thinking him as a toothless aged tiger who does not have any practical value in the society. Is it limited to society or beyond that?
Anyhow, the present boss of this organisation, who worked under him for few years and had a good relation with him, heard his request and made him the Chairman of this Committee. Knowing his indecisive nature, the boss of the organisation told him categorically that the committee must submit its report within six months. The cunning old Chairman knows, the life of each Committee is always extended for at least another six months.
He tried to recall, when did he last time enjoy sex with someone, not necessarily with his wife. He forgot. But one thing he remembered, it was not with his wife; but with someone professional and it was a shameful experience. The lady who was at least forty years younger than him, taunted him for his dysfunctional instrument.
Now looking at the middle aged ladies who might be at least twenty years younger than him, he heaved a sigh. He did not to look at the young girl who might be at least fifty years younger than him.
He tried to concentrate on the subject of the meeting. He immediately could not remember the subject. But he was confident, once the member secretary would welcome him, in his speech he would definitely mention the subject and objective of the meeting. He smiled at himself.
Today morning the middle aged lady member had a bitter fight with her daughter in law for a trivial reason. She is known in her fraternity as a subject expert. But at home? Her son and daughter in law think, she is nothing but a quarrelsome old lady who was divorced by her husband for her non-compromising attitude.
Today why they fought for? From yesterday, she had an indigestion problem, so she wanted boiled rice in her breakfast. She conveyed her mind to her daughter in law in the early morning. But at the dining table she was served with ‘puri subzi’ soaked with lot of oil. When confronted, the daughter in law curtly said, her husband wanted that and she did not have time for two type of breakfast.
After a big fight, she had to come to office without a proper breakfast and with a bad temper.
At office when her Assistant told her that power point presentation would take another ten minutes, though meeting was scheduled after one hour, she blasted the young lady. The young lady was virtually in tears, which gave the middle level lady officer some solace.
The young man of twenty four was angry from the morning due to two main reasons, one there was a big fight with his mother for his late rising from bed and he got another scolding from his boss for coming late to the office.
He does not want to come to office, because he happened to be the junior most official in the office. He has to obey everyone’s order, but he cannot give any order. In his family also being the youngest son, he has to follow everyone’s dictates, but he cannot reply to anybody, except to his mother, who tolerates his tantrum up to some extent.
But he does not want to leave his job either. Now a days, getting a job by an eight drop out is next to impossible. Thanks to his cousin, who is holding a very good job in this organisation, he got this job. Though the salary is not very good, he is one of the highest paid boys among his school dropout peers.
When his boss told him that he had to arrange lunch for the meeting, his anger was somewhat subsided. He knew that after the meeting, he was going to get a good lunch. After all, though these old people would not cherish the lunch, he and his friends would definitely like such heavy oily food.
The meeting lasted for three hours. Even during the lunch time the meeting went on. Everyone was coming with a new suggestions; no matter those are implementable or not. Sometimes even irrelevant discussions were carried on for hours.
The Chairman, who is not listened by his family for a single minute, grabbed the opportunity to speak majority of time during the meeting. Normally, if a serving officer is made Chairman of a Committee, he or she seldom speaks; but is able to take concrete decisions. But whenever a retired person is made a Chairman of a committee, there is a likelihood, he/ she speaks a lot; the middle aged man thought. In the present case, the middle aged man thought, the Chairman was talking irrelevant issues mostly. The tragedy is that, in such a situation, one has to hear all the nonsense and after that, one has to praise the old man also! The middle aged man tried to have a nap. But he could not do that, as the Chairman was known to him for a long time and occasionally he was asked comments on his (Chairman’s) ‘short remark’.
The middle aged officer was praying to God to do something to end the meeting. Finally, meeting was summarized.
After a marathon meeting, no concrete decision had emerged except the following decision, ‘The final decision of the meeting was to have another brainstorming session in the next month so that all the members can give more and practical suggestions on the subject. The meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the Chair.’
The Chairman gleefully left the meeting with a hope to deliver another long lecture in the next meeting also. His importance in the eyes of his family members had been extended for another month or so.
The members of the organisation were unhappy as they have to arrange another meeting for the same issue. Particularly, the young officer who has to prepare the minutes of the meeting, was very annoyed to prepare another useless minute without a decision.
The middle aged officer, told to himself, ‘I am not going to attend the next meeting to hear all these nonsense from the old hack, who did not do any justice to his job when he was in service. I shall send a junior officer for the next meeting.’
The middle aged lady officer thought, ‘At least, I could ventilate some of my frustration in the meeting. The old Chairman also showed some interest on my view points. Definitely, I am looking forward to the next meeting.’
The young attendant was thinking, when he is going to get another free lunch for such a terrific and engrossing meeting among the learned people.
The young lady officer was wondering what to report to the boss after her return to her office. However, she was not adverse in attending another meeting on implementation of the scheme aiming India ODF and clean, where she can think many things (?) not related to her routine office work.
The Elephant Power
I fell in love with her much before I attained the age of thirteen. She was big enough to carry me on her back comfortably. She was ash black with comparative very small eyes. I wondered how she can see the world with two small eyes. My mother used to tell me she was very intelligent who can remember a person for hundred years. Her walking was an envy for all of us. When she runs, whole world shakes! She was about thirty years when we first meet.
When I was young she used to visit our parental home quite often. I loved her visit. My father used to give her few banana trees for her lunch or dinner. In lieu of that my elder brother and I used to ride on her for few minutes. Though it was interesting to see the world from a height of ten feet from a moving jumbo, it was also very scary. After getting down from her back, we felt lot of pain in our stretched young legs for few hours (she was never saddled for a comfortable ride). But the pain did not deter us from our next ride on the magnificent female elephant. I used to envy the Mahut who looked like a dwarf on the back of the black lady for his controlling power on her with mere movements of his legs.
My mother used to give us handful of rice to feed her. Both of us, my brother and I enjoyed her efficacy in taking the rice from our little palms with her huge trunk.
The Mahut used to like her very much like his own sister. He gave two huge steel earrings with few small bells which used to give some soothing sounds for the ears of the passersby.
Those are my memories about the female jumbo I used to ride on a young village boy.
Once I passed my matriculation and I had to leave my green village for good. I seldom saw the black lady moving around our village during my occasional visits to my village during college vacations.
During one of my visits after joining to service, I met the Mahut of the black lady on foot. I enquired about the black lady, I was to adore.
He told me, ‘The owner of the black lady died few years back. Now Government has banned catching of elephants from the forests and cutting of log has also been banned by the Government. The son of the owner joined a Government service and left the village. Though he told me to look after the elephant as owner of the elephant, how can I afford an elephant? Now a days, none gives a banana tree free of cost like your father used to give us. Therefore one day, I left the elephant in the jungle from where from she was picked up few decades ago. I do not know the fate of the elephant. If she was welcomed by other elephants she may be alive; otherwise she may not be alive today. I have no idea about her wellbeing once I left her two years ago. Now I become a daily labourer.’
I saw few drops of tears in his eyes, but I could not find any appropriate word to console the old man. I put a hundred Rupee note in his hand and left the place with a heavy heart.
I was on an official tour to few villages near to the Arunachal boarder to see the progress of SBM (Swachhh Bharat Mission) of Government of India to make the country free from open defecation by second October, 2019 coinciding with 150th Birth Day of Mahatma Gandhi. The villages were situated after crossing Diploonga Reserve Forest from my home town Sootea. The officers from State Government selected these villages to show me the progress of the Mission at my own backyard.
As my car was abruptly stopped by the driver, I lifted my eyes from the novel I was reading to know the reason for abrupt stoppage of the car. The experienced driver whispered, ‘There is a herd of elephants nearby. They might be ahead of us. Unless they leave the road for us we cannot move further.’
I was frightened. Before we leave the last habitation, the village headman told us to cross the forest before dusk. We would have crossed the forest before dusk had my escorting vehicle not punctured. We lost crucial half an hour in changing the spare wheel and when we reached that particular patch of forest, darkness had already descended. Our movement had also been hampered due to heavy showers in last few days prior to my visit.
It did not take a long time before we sighted a huge female elephant on our side. Her very presence near to our vehicle terrified me. I was expecting a huge kick on our vehicle; which might be enough to turtle our vehicle. But that did not happen. As she was standing beside the vehicle peacefully, I gathered enough courage to look at the huge female elephant standing hardly a couple of feet away. As I looked at her she shook her head showing her steel earrings. What a pleasant surprise? She was my life’s second lover after my Mom. To my driver’s surprise, I opened the door of my car and hugged the trunk of the black lady.
A huge drop of tear hit my head. Probably, my eyes were also moist enough to see her accompanying herd a few feet away.
She invited all her family members to near my car. The officers following told me afterwards that they were almost sure that all the occupants of my car would be crushed to death by a rampaging herd of wild elephants.
But I started loving the situation and my feeling was nothing but meeting my near and dear relatives after few years. I asked my driver if we had some bananas or any other fruits in the car. With a trembling hand he handed over few bananas in my hand. After distributing amongst the elephants, I found few of elephants were left out.
I realized, we did not have sufficient bananas in my car. So I came out of the car to collect some more bananas from other cars. The speechless occupants of the cars behind my car handed over all the bananas to me. Then, I comfortably distributed all the bananas amongst each one her family. With serving small banana to the jumbos, I only try to show my love and respect to the elephants and particularly to my dear black lady.
The members of my troupe slowly gained confidence and started coming out of their vehicles. I introduced my beloved black lady and her companions to my colleagues. Despite of my standing very near to the black lady, none could gather enough courage to be very near to the herds. There was another reason for their discomfort. Though the elephants became friendly to us, they did not allow us to move forward. Some of them already stood covering the forest road completely.
I understood, their discomfort. I told my lover, second to my mother to give our way home. She shook her head vigorously indicating that she was not going to allow to move. I did not make a second request. I went back to my car and tried to have a sleep. But thanks to swarms of mosquitoes, I could not sleep.
Time passed with snail’s pace. The night appeared to be very long.
Finally in the morning the black lady allowed us to move. All the members of the herd vacated the road in the advent of day light. I hugged her trunk before I left the place.
After a KM my car was again stopped by the driver abruptly. Then he showed me something which gave me shivering beyond core of my heart. The small bridge on the road was washed away by the strong current of flood water, probably last night.
Now I understood, why my black lady did not allow my car to move till morning. I do not know, whether, she knew that I was travelling in that car or not. I do not know whether, she wanted to save me from my sure death or she just stopped a car occupied by unknown people.
Did she smelt my body odour and she got to know my coming by that road a few KMs away before my actual arrival at that spot or it was a mere coincidence only?
After a deep thought and going back to analyse the sequence of event I came to a conclusion that she got my smell of my body, or may be due to her sixth sense, she positioned herself on my way to save me from the grave danger.
I do not know when I started crying like a baby.
‘Why you are crying sir? ‘The driver asked me when without my sense I was crying.
Wiping my eyes I told, ‘The black lady reminded me what my mother said to me when I was a teen. She told me, elephant never forgets even a small token of love. He/ she will help you when you will be in trouble, if you treat him/her well. I just rode on her back by giving a mouthful of rice as a token of love whenever she visited our home few decades ago. She saved my life just for a few mouthful of rice. Today, she became my second mother by giving me a second life.’
The driver did not tell me to stop my weeping, probably, he heard the voice of a new born baby in my cry.
As I recalled the whole episode once again, a thought hit my head, ‘God in disguise of the black lady saved my life. He must have an agenda for me. As a first step, I must devote my time more and more intensely for my assigned duty in our collective pursuit to make India ODF and Clean India by October, 2019.
The author is a Government servant and a man of vivid experiences derived from his official postings across the country, travels across India and numerous visits outside India. He is presently placed at New Delhi.
His earlier publications are:
1. Random Thoughts through a Coloured Prism
2. Dilemma of a Young Mind
3. Funny Statistics and Serious Statisticians
4. Melody of Fragrance
6. Few Cities through the Lens of Hiranya Borah
7. Guilt: Gift of Winter Spring
8. Beautiful Ghost
9. Great Fighters: Grace of God
10. All Blurred
11. Putting kids to sleep
12. How to become unpopular
14. My grumpy Face
15. Love and Worries
16. Discussion of own Birth: A Taboo
18. Indecent Love Affairs
19. My Fair Lady
20. Waiting time
21. Two Stories
22. My Mother: Dashami Borah
26. First Attempt
27. A father
28. The Portrait
29. Snapped Thread
30. Only He Knows
31. The Stupid Mother
32. The Same Old Story
33. The Old Scoundrel
34. Third Attempt
35. Some of my First Days and First Nights
36. Snubbed Twice
37. Have You Met the God
38. Frequent Flier
40. Forgive and Forget
41. To Win or to lose
42. Call Girl
43. Beyond Blood Relation
44. Lady with a Black Car
45. My wife
46. Complete Woman
47. Diwali Gift
48. Romance with a Lady
49. Open Heart Surgery
50. My First Love
52. Pebbles on My Way Home
53. My First Bengali Book
54. Murder Mystery
57. Make a Habit to Thank God
58. Killing of a Bird
59. The Hero
60. Fantasy versus Reality
61. The Party
62. Road Rage
63. Death of a Friend
64. Cannot Live with Memory Only
65. None Cares for Me
66. A Tribute to My Guru
67. Two Professionals
68. The Choice
69. The Elusive Spouse
70. First Encounter with A P
71. Plane Crash
72. Plane Crash Part-II
73. Plane Crash Part-III
75. A Bag of Currency
76. Suitable Groom
77. Head Hunters
78. My Dear Sister
79. Selection While Waiting at the Airport
80. Oh Shit
82. He Got Back His Wife
83. Beautiful Faces
84. Elder Sister
85. Good Morning
87. Pass on your Death to Someone Else
88. Colour of Holi
89. Why blame others
90. A Forbidden Issue
91. Hat-trick of Failures
92. Agony of Writers
94. Three Directors
95. An Unusual Love Affair
96. Birth Day
97. Do not Tell Anyone
99. Late By Ten Years
100. Murder in a Foreign City
101. Strange Life
102. I love You Darling
104. Lady in the Park
105. Do Anything, I Shall comment
107. Art of Flirting
108. Are We Human
109. Old man and a Dog
110. Relation with Relatives
111. Sun and Cloud
112. My Second Lover
113. In a Meeting
114. Love at First Sight
115.A Psalm of Life
116.He Wants a Solution
118. Twenty-five Love Stories
119. Me and a Dozen Plus One Ghost Stories
120. Aparajeeta: Twenty Seven Short Stories
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2nd October, 2019 is the target date for making India open defecation free (ODF). All the stakeholders are taking all necessary steps to achieve this particular goal without any dilution. I also whole heartedly involved myself in this noble cause and as a part of my duties, I have to go to different places to know about the ground reality of the progress in the direction of declaring entire country ODF by October, 2019. Without saying, it might be the greatest success story of modern India. First part of the book contains few poems related to environment, cleanliness and problems faced by the ladies due to lack of proper toilet facilities. However, always there is a funny side of any serious story. Here I want to tell you some of imaginary funny stories, not necessarily related with the implementation of the present scheme. The characters described in the stories are fictitious and are not real. If any resemblance of any character is observed, it is mere coincidence only. The last story, elephant power is based on a news item published few years back where a herd of elephants saved the lives of many persons in a similar circumstances in Assam as I described in this book. Some portions of the story is based on my childhood memories of riding on elephants without saddle and offering of rice and paddy to the visiting elephants to my parental home. I try to project the news item to a true love story between a person and female jumbo. Hope my readers will like the love story between a man and an animal.