….. Ganeshrao came out of his thoughts. He looked around. The hall was nearly empty. Means several people had already met the Minister and returned home. Ganeshrao’s son Vinya was not to be seen around.
Ganeshrao came out and looked around. Vinya was not even outside.
Must have got bored and gone home…
Today’s children have no understanding…
So much tolerance is needed to get a job.
They have to cross several thresholds….
Just then a name was called out… Ganeshrao Gavande…
Ganeshrao’s face brightened with joy. With great joy he started hurriedly going to his chair to pick up the bag of provisions.
“Who is Ganeshrao Gavande?” once again the name was called out.
“Its me.. Ganeshrao Gavande…”Ganeshrao said picking his bag and hurriedly going towards the door.
“Then why don’t you answer… my throat is parched calling out your name…” the man barked at Ganeshrao. Looking apologetically at the person Ganesh tried to give an embarrassing smile.
“People who come here are wonderful specimens… Now look at him.. he doesn’t even have time to answer… He thinks.. thinks.. that everyone recognises him… Don’t know if he considers himself as popular as film stars…” the man said to another person who had come to meet the Minister.
Actually what he had said was equally applicable to the other person also, but pretending that it did not apply to him he nodded his head and said, “Yes..it is true.”
Ganeshrao pretending as if he hadn’t heard them, pushed the door open and went in to meet the Minister.
Ganeshrao walked on the plush carpet. There was another big door. Seeing that majestic door Ganeshrao unnecessarily hesitated…
Was he worthy enough to push that door open and walk in….
Hesitantly he pushed the door lightly and peeped in. He saw Madhurani reclining on a sofa. Madhurani was the Minister. In the village, at first, a shop keeper. Next contesting Panchayat election she became the Sarpanch which was followed by election to the Panchayat Samiti. Passing through these stages she had reached this level. Beside her was Patil. In her rise to this height she must certainly have got good help from Patil. She was not looking at the door. She was talking something with Patil. Ganeshrao slightly pushed the door inside. A narrow opening, just enough to let him scrape in, formed through which he went in. He went in and still no one took notice of him. They both were still engaged in discussing something. Ganeshrao went to a chair that was placed before them and stood awkwardly.
How could he sit without being asked to?...
Someone could unnecessarily insult him…
Wasn’t the insult that had already taken place sufficient?...
Even after sending a chit inside Madhurani had taken such a long time to call him in.
From their talks Ganesh realised that Madhurni had brought amazing changes in her circumstances. An example of this was her language. It had become pure and sophisticated enough to put even a city-person to shame. On the contrary Ganeshrao occasionally felt that as he had worked in villages his language had become tainted, , though only slightly. His dress has changed from trouser-shirt to villagers’ pyjama and shirt.
People should always move on the path of progress.
Not like him… on the path of regression….
There was not much change in Madhurani’s behaviour and her way of talking. For that matter her behaviour had always been royal like a queen.
Slowly the discussion between Patil and Madhurani began to get converted into an argument. Madhurani was trying to forcefully make her point and Patil was trying with all his might to contradict it. The arguments kept growing.
Had he come at a wrong time?....
He should have waited till their talk had ended…
It is now better to go out and wait…
Ganeshrao was about to turn back when Maduhrani noticed him.
“Come, Ganeshrao.. take your seat,” Madhurani said.
Many days had passed since he had met her but the long gap not reflect in any manner in her talk and behaviour. Ganeshrao felt the youthful days spent in the company of Madhurani as just the days of yesterday.
The same inhibited laughter. The same impish look. Only, because of age there was now an added seriousness and maturity. The expression of displeasure that had spread on her face during her argument with Patil had now suddenly dissolved. Ganeshrao, from his experience, knew her skill of changing facial expressions in merely a moment.
Ganeshrao sat awkwardly in the sofa placed before Madhurani.
“You are meeting after a long time…” Madhurani’s voice had taken on a sharp edge.
Ganeshrao merely gave her an apologetic smile.
“Tell me.. what work has brought you here?…” Madhurani enquired.
Patil did not bother to even reveal his earlier acquaintance. He got up in anger and stamping his feet went away from there. Possibly Madhurani must have seen him through the corners of her eyes.
“Madhurani..Madam” sensing that it was not proper for him to address her merely as Madhurani Ganeshrao had added the word ‘Madam”.
Ganeshrao paused. Madhurani also did not take any objection.
“Madam… it was regarding my transfer…”
“Means transfer to be affected or stopped…”
“Alright.. write out details of your post, officer, location and other details… I’ll see what can be done..”
Ganeshrao quickly took out a piece of paper from his pocket and holding it before Madhurani said, “I have brought everything written down…”
“No.. not to me.. Outside my Secretary is there, give it to him..”
“Thank You, Madam…”
“ What are you doing Ganeshrao..You are embarrassing me..” Madhurani said.
“But Madam, the work will be done, won’t it?”
“Yes.. don’t worry about it..” Madhurani said.
Sensing Madhurani’s farewell note Ganeshrao started to return.
(to be contd…)
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Anil Ekbote