Ganeshrao stretched his legs and sat in the chair. Every now and then he looked at those who entered the door and those who came out of it.
God alone knew, among all these people when his turn would come....
Just then he sensed that there was a mild commotion in the hall. Some people had got up and some were craning their necks to see who it was. Some others were doing ‘namaskar’.
Who is he? Could he be the Minister ?
He saw a fair, tall and well built man making way through the crowd.
Now, who’s that man?...
The person entered the door unhindered to meet the Minister. No one stopped him. After he went in people returned to their seats.
“Who was he?” Ganeshrao asked the man sitting to his right.
The man seemed surprised. “What? You don’t know him?”
Ganeshrao sheepishly shook his head to indicate his ignorance.
“He is Madhukarrao. Minister’s special man. Or you can say he is Minister’s right hand.”
To Ganeshrao’s left, a man wearing white pyjama-kurta was reading a newspaper. He looked at him and stretching his arms to shed the precipitating laziness, exclaimed, “Who knows how much time it would take?”
The man looked over his newspaper and, holding it still open, asked, “Haven’t you come just now?”
“Yes,” Ganeshrao admitted.
“I am coming here for the last two days…but I haven’t yet met the Minister. Sometimes the Minister is not here and sometimes, though the Minister is present, has no time to meet people,” the man said knowledgeably and went back to reading his newspaper.
Ganeshrao was disappointed. For a moment he felt like getting up and walking away.
But how could he … it was absolutely necessary to meet the Minister.
If not for myself, at least for the sake of son’s job.
Sitting in the chair his thoughts raced into the past. He remembered that about 20-25 years back he had pursued just like this to meet this man or that. And even after taking so much pain, he was posted to an obscure village.
Will the same thing happen again?....
It was more necessary to avoid the transfer now than it was then. For, then, he was young and could easily withstand hardship and discomfort. As he kept thinking, he began to recollect the days of his youth…........
..... The bus was snaking along the bends and twists of the ghat-road. Ganesh was sitting near a window. Next to him was a villager. To avoid feeling giddy because of the turning of the bus this way and that, he tried to concentrate on the greenery of the valley outside. He glanced at the fellow passengers riding along in the bus. Some were dozing and others were chatting among themselves. The passage between the two rows of seats had several commuters standing. Some held the back rests of the occupied seats and others held on to vertically fixed rods. Making his way through the crowd, the bus conductor went to his own seat. Someone was occupying it. The conductor merely looked at him and the person occupying the conductor’s seat got up and vacated it for him. The conductor sat and, putting his hand inside his bag, took out a paper and a pen. Next, he tucked the pen on his ear and opened the folds of a crumpled paper that seemed worthy of throwing in a dust bin. Then, with one hand he looked at the serial numbers of the un-punched tickets and with the other began to note them down on the paper. This he did with such great ease as if he were especially trained for it. Otherwise it was not only difficult but near-impossible to write on a sheet of paper unaffected by the continuous bumps of the bus.
Once again, Ganesh fixed his gaze on the greenery outside. His thoughts once again began to run wild....
In spite of trying his best to avoid it, the time had now come when he had to face it. For five long years he had worked as a clerk on daily wages in the court at the taluka. During this period he had got married. Now, after putting in efforts for five years Ganesh was appointed as a gram-sevak. Though a graduate, he was forced to work as a gram-sevak. Even that job had not come to him easily. He had gathered recommendations from several persons; he had pleaded and begged them and even secretly paid amounts … only then was he able to get the job of a gram-sevak. After getting the job, there arose the problem of posting. Ganesh wanted a posting in a village within a radius of 4-5 km from the taluka. Once again, he gathered recommendations, he pleaded and begged and he also secretly paid money. He did all these. Yet, what he wanted to avoid did happen. He did not succeed in getting a posting in a nearby village. Perhaps, the pressure he had exerted now was weaker than the one he had brought about earlier for getting the job. Finally, seeing no alternative, he had accepted the posting to village Ujni which was about 50 km from the taluka. Today was his first day of going there.
(to be contd.)
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote