Ganesh’s attention was caught by the gallery adjoining the hall. He got up and went to the gallery. From the gallery he glanced all around. Being the highest point in the village, from here all houses in the village looked like toy houses. The greenery of the fields around the houses was looking very pleasant. And the serpentine village stream passing through that greenery seemed a beautiful drawing by an artist. The greenery was bounded on all sides by high hills as though the hills were standing to guard the village. For quite some time Ganesh took in the beauty of the scene. He came to senses when loud murmuring arose from the hall. He turned and looked. A large crowd had gathered in the hall. But Patil and Sarpanch were not to be seen. He returned to the hall. The place in the corner where he had sat earlier was still unoccupied. He went and again sat there. Just then Maate Guruji, Head Master of the village school came in. People greeted and wished him. Before taking a seat he glanced all around. It’s an interesting habit of people. When they go to a crowded place they select a comfort zone which they find convenient and then they go and sit there. The Head Master spotted Ganesh sitting in a corner. He is a government employee and I too am a government employee. We’ll be able to get along well. Means, there would be several things of common interest to talk about. He did namaskar to Ganesh and came and sat beside him. “What Ganeshrao ..meeting after a long time..” while sitting down he slapped on Ganesh’s thigh and said.
“I can’t help it. I do not have any work in your school and you don’t have anything to do with my office…So our meeting will only be rare ones, like this, on a new moon or a full moon day,” Ganesh said.
“What you say is completely right,” Guruji said.
Just then Sarpanch arrived. Once again a round of greetings and namaskars took place. Some people hurriedly got up and went to him.
“Has everyone come?” Sarpanch addressed the question to everyone gathered. He had met two objectives with this query. One, he had communicated with everyone gathered in the hall and, two, he made his presence known to those who had not noticed him or were pretending not to have noticed him.
“Yes, almost everyone has come … except Patil …But I’ll go and bring him in no time…” one person sitting near the Sarpanch got up and offered.
Ignoring him Sarpanch sat in the centre of the hall along with other prominent persons.
“What Shamrao…how are your seeds ?” Sarpanch asked sitting next to Shamrao.
“How could they be?.. I have dared this year.. and put my head in the jaggery unit.. now let me see, if I find it sweet or get my head burnt,” Shamrao said.
“How can it burn…You have shown daringness.. in fact, you must be given some award.. let me see if there is some scheme with the government..’ Sarpanch tried to console Shamrao. Then, he addressed Ganesh and asked, “Ganeshrao.. do we have any scheme?”
“Yes, we have one… I am thinking of holding a meeting for it… There I can give details to all,..” Ganesh informed him.
“Then hold it as soon as possible… when do you want to hold it?.. tell me” Sarpanch asked Ganesh forthrightly.
“When ever it suits you,” Ganesh said.
“What about this Friday .. What Shamrao, is Friday alright?”
“Yes..it would be alright,” Shamrao said.
“Yes, Friday would be alright.. I’ll prepare a notice and circulate it through the messenger,” Ganesh said.
“Now, why do you want to send it through the messenger … All of us are present right here.. You just tell us the time…” Sarpanch said.
“Will morning ten, do?” Ganesh asked Sarpanch.
“Yes, it will do… what do you say … Sarpanch asked others who were present in the hall.
“yes .. ten would be fine..” a couple of voices gave their assent in the hall .
“So Ganeshrao.. it is fixed.. Friday morning at ten in the morning,” Sarpanch confirmed it.
Ganesh nodded his head. Ganesh used to like Sarpanch’s style of solving issues then and there. But Ganesh did not know that this very style of Sarpanch hurt several villagers. They felt that Sarpanch never bothered to consult them. He treated them with scant respect. And, adamantly took all decisions by himself.
(to be contd.)
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote