Standing at the roadside corner, Ganesh began to deeply inhale his cigarette. He felt a little calmed. Near him, in darkness, a group of youngsters sat along the wall smoking and chatting. Taking advantage of the darkness they were lustily looking at Madhurani’s shop. Maybe, as it was dark here, they were not seen from over there. But as Ganesh was standing at the corner near them he was able to see them all.
“Hey Rama, give me a connection,” one of them held a fresh cigarette in his lips and said to another.
The other person pulled a burning cigarette from his mouth and gave it to him. The first person held the burning end of the cigarette to the end of his own unlit cigarette, took a couple of deep puffs and when his cigarette got lit, returned Rama’s cigarette.
Seeing the meaning of ‘connection’ Ganesh was amused.
Having drawn deep puffs, Ganesh exhausted his cigarette quite soon. He pulled out another one from the packet and lit it using the earlier cigarette. In other words, he gave her a ‘connection’. He smiled to himself.
Just then Ganesh heard someone quarrelling and shouting, “That bastard Gramsevak… “
“A mother f ***”
Someone was cursing Ganesh. He got scared. He was puzzled to hear someone cursing him loudly on his very first day. Maybe someone was abusing the former Gramsevak, he thought. And he looked at the direction from where the abuses were hurled.
They surely must be abuses for the former Gramsevak.
For, from today’s chatter, it did seem that the former Gramsevak was not getting on well with the villagers. It was dark ahead. Perhaps, beyond the by lane some one was quarrelling near the Sarpanch’s house.
“Sala, he has started his Ramayan,” Ganesh heard someone exclaim from the group of youngsters gathered nearby.
Even now choicest abuses continued to be hurled at the Gramsevak.
Come … let me go and see what the problem is.
He began to walk in the direction from where abuses came..
Ganesh saw that a man, standing in the dark, was abusing Gramsevak. He went closer and was stunned by what he saw. The person was Sada. Sada, who had carried his luggage in the morning and led him to the Sarpanch’s house. He could not believe his eyes. From the manner in which Sada babbled and the stance he took it was evident that he was dead drunk. When he saw Ganesh he made him his target.
“Look… Here comes the Gramsevak… Don’t know what he thinks of himself.. a big Lord?.. Mother f *** asks me to carry luggage from the bus Stand! Mother f ***”
Seeing that he was being abused openly, at first, Ganesh was puzzled. He did not know how to react. Then he gathered himself. He began to get angry. The abuses were so pointed that his temper rose to full height. Provoked, he began to move towards Sada. He was in a hurry to hit him hard under his ears. As he moved towards Sada, he felt his body flaming with anger. His face turned red. Lips began to tremble and even hands and feet began to shake. By now he reached and stood before Sada. But there was no change in Sada’s behaviour. He continued to hurl loud abuses at him. He made up his mind that come what may, he would hit him hard. He was about to hit him hard under his ears when someone placed a hand on his shoulder. He turned back and looked. It was Sarpanch.
“Ganeshrao .. come here.. this side.” Sarpanch, placed his hand on Ganesh’s shoulder and guided him a little away.
“Earlier .. when you told me in the morning that he had brought you to my house .. that time itself I had a grave doubt.”
“Why? What doubt?” Ganesh asked. He was thoroughly puzzled.
“This man.. Sada.. once he gets drunk he has no control on himself.. He does not understand what is going on around him .. he keeps abusing all those whom he had met in the day.”
“Seems a strange case” Ganesh said wiping the sweat that had gathered on his forehead. “Why don’t you do something about him?” he asked in anger.
“What are you talking Ganeshrao … You were the one to tell me in the morning that this man seemed very kind and helpful,” Sarpanch said trying to tease him.
“Yes, I did say that .. But I didn’t realise that he was this much kind and helpful,” Ganesh said trying to give a forced smile
(to be contd.)
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote